I listen to your show by podcast and just want to say that I really enjoy it! The informative, knowledgeable and well-researched travel information is absolutely wonderful!
Being German myself, of course I listened especially closely to your Germany show.
I loved your advice on visiting some of the lesser-known places. Northern Germany for instance does not even seem to exist on most American travel maps. And you may be surprised to hear that while all Americans I know who have traveled Germany have visited Neuschwanstein castle, I am not aware of a single German among my friends and acquaintances who has ever gone there!
(On a related side note, contrary to popular belief in America, Oktoberfest is a Bavarian thing, not an all-German thing, and Bavaria is not = Germany, it's only one out of sixteen states!)
I really liked the reply you gave the school principal who asked about parents' concerns with letting their children travel to Europe, and I'd like to add my two cents' worth:
I think we are all most afraid of what we know least about.
We had friends send their daughter over for an extended stay with us in the mid-80s, and it was the daughter who really wanted to go. The parents were scared to death about the Iron Curtain just being 50 miles away from us - something we never even wasted a thought on. Vice versa, we traveled California with friends, and they - going to the States for the first time - were scared to death beforehand about gangs and crime.
On a similar note, trying to put things into perspective: Yes, there have been terrorist attacks in Europe. So have there in the United States, actually one of the most horrible ones ever. So, if parents are worried about letting their children travel to Europe, by the same logic one might ask: How can they feel safe having their children live in the United States? The reason of course is obvious: It's where they feel they know their way around and know where it's safe to go and where it's not. Well, European families love their lives just as much as any American family may, and will think and act along the same lines.
I think it's important for young people to learn to apply the rules of common sense to wherever they may go: Big cities anywhere on the planet generally pose a bigger risk than rural areas, not so much in terms of terrorist attacks, more likely in terms of pickpockets. And then there are some areas in each big city that you may want to avoid, especially at night, and the best way of knowing which areas to avoid is to be with locals, and to listen to what they say!
If you really are concerned about terrorist attacks, you may - wherever you are on the planet - want to avoid events or places with masses of people because terrorists seem to prefer a platform with a maximum of effect and publicity.
In Germany, we generally live by the attitude "We don't want terrorists to achieve their goal by letting them dominate our lives". Which is not to say that we are being naive: Security levels have really gone up since the Christmas market incident in Berlin. But letting fear guide us would mean letting the terrorists get what they want.
Thanks again for your show, and happy travels!