Santorini: Between the Sea and the Cosmos

Traditionally known in Greek as Thira (or Thera in Classic Greek), this island, which is part of a caldera born from a massive volcanic eruption 3600 years ago, didn’t get its more commonly known of Santorini until about eight centuries ago. Conquered and dominated over the millennia by Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Venetians, the Latin Empire,…

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The Allure of the Ligurian Sea

The Ligurian Sea—the liquid azure arm of the Mediterranean caressing the northwestern rocky coastline of bella Italia. Its reach extends from the French/Italian border southeastward towards La Spezia, Pisa, and Livorno and forms a triangle to the northern tip of Corsica. Just north of La Spezia are a string of little towns collectively known as…

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Becoming a Stark: Archery at Winterfell

Tourism based on TV and pop culture is an odd bird, but I have to admit that Game of Thrones is making me a believer. While its story and settings are brilliantly fictitious, many of the filming locations have their own historic, cultural, and eye-catching charms that can be worth a visit for even non-GOT…

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Derry: Faith, Violence, and a Hope for Peace

Derry (Londonderry), Northern Ireland I just left Derry yesterday afternoon, well before the violence occurred late last night. My time here was spent learning about The Troubles during the last half of the 20th century. For 30 years, the tragedies of fighting, suppression, revolt, and loss multiplied. Efforts to establish peace were highlighted with the…

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A Travel Angel at the Vatican: Exploring the Papal City-State with the Wife of a Swiss Guard

So often when I travel, I feel like the universe conspires in my favor. Perhaps I’m inclined to be more open to adventure and opportunities that come my way, or maybe, because I seek those moments, I recognize them more readily. Or perhaps there truly is a divine hand at work that guides me towards people and circumstances that stretch and shape me for the better. Whatever the reason, in that chapel and in that moment, I knew precisely how fortunate I was, and I was grateful.

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Italian Experiences with Rick Steves

It’s been more than Rick Steves has led one of our Rick Steves’ Europe Tours, but you’d never know it. His enthusiasm, energy, stamina, knowledge, and love of Europe seems only to have increased with those passing years.  Along with 28 happy tour members, my guide colleague Ben Cameron and I (we’re Rick’s assistants on…

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A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Germany

Confession time: I’m a last-minute packer, sometimes finishing up just hours before a flight. Fortunately, I pack so often that I’ve got my incomprehensible-to-most system down pat. On most trips, procrastination serves as stimulus to “get ‘er done.” Rare is it that something needed is forgotten at home. I get to the airport with sufficient…

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The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men

“Please don’t rain yet. Please don’t rain yet. Please don’t rain yet.” My mind looped this mantra, and I plastered an everything’s-alright smile, hoping my face wouldn’t betray my anxiety. Twenty-eight people were following me through the cobblestone streets of Paris, and I didn’t want their only two days with me in my favorite European…

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New York, NY Part 3: NYC for the Culture Vulture

My partner Rick and I recently took trip to New York with a large part of the Steves Family: his son Andy, daughter Jackie, sister Linda, youngest niece Caleigh, and eldest niece (and amazing artist) Nicolina. Part family vacation, part art tour of Nicolina’s works, we got to know the city better than we ever…

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