Rick Steves Best Of Europe

September 28th - October 11th, 2009

The Wheels on the Bus Go Round...

September 28th – October 11th, 2009

After spending nearly a month abroad we had used almost every mode of transportation, but when it came down to it, our favorite way of getting around was on our bus. It was large, spacious, familiar and fun. We were worried that we would be losing a lot of precious vacation time getting from country to country just sitting on the bus, but Colleen made sure our bus time was anything but. She would teach us about our destination giving us crash courses on the location, their culture, language and food. And when we weren’t learning we were chatting, napping, playing games or enjoying the view. Cheers to Ben for a job well done!

Below: Colleen giving Ben his parting gifts, Kevin telling the group about the Space Invader in Paris, Mike and Rita enjoying the view, taking dinner counts, Daryl and his Crown, Kevin snoozing, Our awesome bus

And the Award Goes to...FOOD!

Honestly, it was difficult for us to not dedicate an entire page to food. Heck, it was difficult for us to not dedicate an entire page to The Macaroon. As far as life changing moments go, it was right up there with David and Mona. So, instead, we’ve created a few food sections on this page for you to enjoy. Bon appetite!

Food on the Road

Spending a lot of time on the road meant eating on the road quite often. We would usually catch lunch somewhere between two destinations, but thanks to AutoGrill, we never felt like we were missing out. What is AutoGrill you ask? It is a roadside diner that puts Denny’s to shame. There is a market where you can buy fast snacks, but more importantly there is a café filled with fresh salad bars, bread baskets, carving stations and amazing pasta. This is what all fast food should aspire to be!

Below: The glorious AutoGrill and all it has to offer

Food on Our Own

We (obviously) love food and couldn’t wait to see what Europe had in store for us! Once we learned a few important phrases “I’m sorry, I don’t speak ____, do you speak English?” and realized that Europeans don’t really understand what a vegetarian is we were ready to eat our way across the continent. We spent afternoons enjoying fresh bread, cheese and fruit under the Eiffel Tower. We had hot paninis from street vendors, pizza by the slice, fried mozzarella and rice balls, fresh pasta, rich beef burgundy, spatzle, sausage, fondue, lamb, gnocchi and much, much more. The best tip we can give you is to keep an eye out, the more locals you see in a restaurant the better.

Below: Italian fried rice and cheese ball, Kevin and his Swiss dinner, dinners in Rome, street market in Paris, paninis in Versailles, tomatoes in front of the Tower

Food with the Group

Feeding 29 people simultaneously is quite a task. Whether we were taking over an entire restaurant or enjoying sandwiches lakeside, eating as a group was always entertaining. Dinners together were a great way to end many of our days. It gave us a chance to get to catch up, talk about life and get to know each other a little bit better. It also gave Colleen the stage she needed to keep us all in the loop regarding the tour.

Below: Group meals in Austria, Switzerland, Tuscany and Italy

Hotel, Motel, No Holiday-Inn

All of our hotels on tour were unique; no Holiday-Inns on this trip. They were clean and comfy, many of them were family run, and they were all well off the beaten path. It wasn’t uncommon for them to be sans elevators either, so when Rick says pack light, he means it! We lugged our luggage up, down and around numerous flights of stairs on many, many occasions!

Above: Our hotels in Beaune, Venice, Tuscany and Austria, our daily itinerary posted at our hotels

Above: Room interiors in Austria, Venice and Paris

Above: View from our room in Austria, our hotels in Paris and Tuscany, the stairs in our Paris hotel, hotel in Switzerland

Not Your Average Guide!

It was (painfully) easy to spot some of the other guides. They would lead their pack with flashy flags, microphones or both. Colleen, on the other hand, managed to fit right in. Whether we were at the Louvre or on the luge she was one of us.

Above: Colleen on the luge, Colleen enjoying some grappa, various other guides

Ho Ho? No No!

There were no Twinkies on this tour! Snacks in Europe (like everything else) are simply amazing! There were treats around every corner. Fresh fruit, veggies, nuts, cheese, bread, pizza paninis, gelato, macaroons and éclairs lined the streets, all ours for the taking. And for those that needed a more familiar taste from home, McDonald’s was never hard to find.

Above: Popcorn machines, fresh fruit in Venice, Kevin and ice cream lady, MccyD’s, snacks in Switzerland

Above: Sweet treats throughout Europe, Kevin and The Macaroon, us enjoying gelato, our favorite gelato spot, Kevin and his last gelato of the trip.

Waterfront Dinner

We shot this video from our café table in Venice. Waterfront dining, warm weather and delicious food, does it get any better than this?

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