Here’s the deal. I love to travel (obviously). I love to write (and need to make more time for it). I have another blog that started out as what I thought would be an online portfolio of things I’ve written for clients, but now it’s mostly silly stuff about my dogs.
If you’re interested, visit www.katemahar.com to read about the pups: Mick Jagger the Rock Star, Long-haired Dachshund, and our latest addition to the family, Little Richard. Richie is a terrier mix with an under-bite who resembles Chewbacca from “Star Wars.”
About the name of this blog? I do, most sincerely, love Rick Steves. I became hooked on his television shows on PBS years ago, and then went on my first trip to Italy on a Rick Steves tour in 2005. It was an absolutely wonderful introduction to that fascinating country and I can’t recommend the tours highly enough. I would only caution that you need to be in decent physical condition to keep up (and I wasn’t at the time). They do warn you of this up front. Believe them.
I’m also a huge fan of river boats and have experienced fabulous trips on both the Viking and Avalon lines. Both were excellent. But no matter what method of travel I choose, I always buy the latest Rick Steves guide for the countries I’m visiting. The information is so well organized, easy to follow, complete and helpful. I look at the guides for hotel and restaurant recommendations, tips on safety in the cities, how to buy tickets for a metro, or the best day and time to visit a museum, and so very much more.
Rick Steves’ books are worth their weight in gold. Buy the latest one for wherever you’re heading, no matter what tour group you may be going with. And if you’re traveling without a guide? Don’t even think about stepping on the plane without bringing that blue and gold bible with you.
I have an old ad from a travel magazine pinned to the bulletin board above my desk in my office. It says, “Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.”
There’s so much truth to that statement. When you buy “things,” they eventually get old. They break, or go out of style. They don’t fit anymore. Not many objects last forever. But your memories do.
For instance: on that first trip to Italy, after dropping our bags at the hotel in Rome, the entire group crammed onto a bus with our guide Donato. Without knowing where we were going, we soon jumped off the bus to follow Don in a quick march down the sunny sidewalk. We rounded the corner, and there, right in the middle of the city, gleaming against a sky as blue as the Madonna’s robe, was the Coliseum.
It took my breath away. I just never dreamed that this historic monument I’d studied as a child back in Ohio would be sitting there in the midst of traffic and people on bicycles, reed-thin African men selling souvenirs spread on blankets and a beaming wedding party taking photos on the opposite corner. I was seeing the real thing. A few minutes later, I was able to reach out and touch that ancient stone.
I can see this in my mind as clearly today as if it happened yesterday. I am so unbelievably grateful to have had that particular experience, as well as many, many others all around this amazing world we live in.
Thank you, Rick Steves. Merci, Arthur Frommer. Mille grazie to literally dozens of brilliant, articulate local guides who have shared fascinating stories about the history of places like Antwerp and Nuremberg and Aix-en-Provence. Danke to the knowledgeable and entertaining program directors on my river cruises.
And happy travels to you. May you be as fortunate as I have been to stand in awe of so much beauty on our precious earth.