"POSTCARDS FROM EUROPE" Page 1,
On budget accommodations in Switzerland:
The sign at the barn is trilingual: "Schlaf im Stroh,
Aventure sur la Paille, Sleep in Straw." A clever solution to the need for
budget lodgings, this barn, one of 200 such barns in Switzerland, artfully
shuffles cows and people. In summer cows go to the high Alps, leaving the barn
empty as tourists stampede into town looking for cheap beds. The place is hosed
down, the straw is changed, and the barn is opened to humans. Tourists lay their
rucksacks on the feeding troughs and bed down in cow stalls filled with fresh,
On mass-market escorted tours:
I learned about expensive sightseeing "options" on
those Cosmos tours. My [personal] mission as a group escort was to spare my
group the extra expense but not the experience. After reviewing with my group
which sightseeing options were worth taking, Monica's sales pitch went over like
a bathless double.
As I left the hotel with my hearty splinter group, Monica
said, "Really, you will see nothing in town without taking my 'Munich by
With a battle cry of "Double the oompah for half the
deutsche marks!" I led my group of renegades into the tram and on to the
Mathauser's wasn't overrun with tour groups back then. With a
little organizing of chairs we went sat directly under the band--three tables
closer than where I sit now.
To meet the neighbors, we'd fly a coaster like a Frisbee into
a happy gang at the next table. With glasses raised in our direction, they'd
roar a lusty welcome. The happy sound of my tourists clicking mugs with new
German friends fired my determination to save tourists from the greedy grip of
Interview: Rick Steves on Guided
Rick Steves talks about group travel,
kickbacks, and the philosophy behind his tour business.
RickSteves.com: Postcards from Europe
You can order Postcards from Europe from Rick Steves's Web site if it isn't
available at your local bookseller.
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Need a car in Europe?
If you live outside the EU,
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From Durant and Cheryl Imboden:
About Europe for Visitors