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2018 marathon: Here I am

Arrived in Trier last night. What a charming and picturesque city. I should know by now not to be surprised by RS lodging but once more I am. The Hotel Residenz am Zuckerberg has all of the charm of a typical RS hotel with the added extra: it’s a senior living hotel. For a card carrying people watcher it is thrilling to observe native life in their natural surroundings. Add to that the opportunity to interact and converse with those who do speak English; my horizons continue to expand. Once more I see how similar we are.

The GAS tour starts tomorrow and I got here just in time to meet some of the previous tour before thy left this morning. I’m here for next seven weeks so until tomorrow: Auf Wiedersehen

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Hello Brad,
Glad to see you are in Trier and already enjoying your new adventures. We took the GAS tour a few years ago and know that you will love it. We look forward to reliving the tour thru your interesting reports. Thank you, Teri

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I thought you were running a marathon! I was intrigued combining that with a RS tour!

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Spent the morning sipping espresso and savoring croissants. One if the many things I love about the Europe I see are all of the town squares. I observe such a sense of community in the people, something I, for one, don’t see in the West. The cafés are such a social center for all. I realize it’s probably only the window I choose to look through but I do wish we had town squares in Arizona; maybe we wouldn’t spend so much time in front of the television.

The thing that struck me the most as I got off the plane in Frankfurt and found my way to Trier was all of the many subtle observations from last year that I had forgotten about: how unique it is walking through a public place and hearing such a myriad of languages; German, Italian, French, many languages that are completely alien to me. Seeing diversity. It did bother me that at the Frankfurt train station I had my choice of three eateries: McDonalds, KFC, and Thong Thai; what I wanted was a bratwurst stand. 🤣

Teri, I found it interesting: the first family I met from the GAS tour before mine were from Tucson as well. They were on their sixth RS tour.

The sun is trying to break through so I’d better stretch my legs and find a café.

Auf Wiedersehen

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Have an awesome time in Europe with all your trips. Keep us posted on your activities.

Have fun

Kim

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I love reading your reports, Brad! You have such a delightful view of traveling and a wonderfully positive view of the world. Will be watching for your future posts!

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Day two and the tour starts this afternoon. Had breakfast with Hans, the tour director, I had him last year for MSV and it was so good to see him again.

One thing that intrigues me about being in Europe is the change I see in me. For example; I HATE shopping with a passion. Best thing of th past fifteen years is Amazon. And yet I get here and I become intrigued with the city centers. Observing locals in their daily lives and watching commerce is fascinating. I eve went into an indoor mall today just to walk through it. Note, I’m still not shopping and hopefully the family has learned not to expect trip gifts, but I am enjoying watching others shop.

I had an informative conversation the other day with a new friend, a technology teacher from Saarbrücken, re the crisis created in Europe by the millions who have been displaced in the world, particularly Syria; and the impact this s having on the countries educational system.

Okay now I’m getting to deep and this is all about my self-discovery as a international traveler. Time to go find an espresso and mellow out🤣.

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Continental,

Sorry to disappoint but I struggle running to the bathroom. I can walk anywhere but running isn’t in the cards any more. 🤣

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Hi Brad. I went on the GAS tour last year at this same time and it was incredible! One tip if you're up for an adventure...when in Murren, I can't recommend enough the experience of paragliding! I've never done anything like it in my life (I think I would consider myself a big chicken when it comes to stuff like this) and it was hands down the best experience I've ever done. I was with two girlfriends and I'm not sure what got into us but we just went for it -- maybe it was all the fresh mountain air! Our tour guide helped us book it (Airtime Paraglide) and off we went. You're attached to a guide/pilot and it all felt very safe. The cost was around $200 and seriously worth every penny. Truly a once it a lifetime experience! The perspective you get of the Lauterbrunnen Valley is unparalled. There's an opportunity at the end to buy a memory card from the Go Pro the pilots use while in flight. If it peeks your interest at all, go for it! Have a great trip!

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Hi Brad, I went back and read your reports from last year. Really enjoyed them and hoping you write up the two tours you are doing this year!

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Katy, Thanks for the tip re: paragliding. Sounds wonderful and something I can cross off my bucket list (although paragliding has never been in the top twenty😳). I’m hoping the forecasters are wrong, so far they’re batting 0%-they’ve called for rain every day and I haven’t felt a drop. I’m just terrified they might be right about Mürren. I so badly want to see the three beauties.

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Today was one of those days where all I wanted to do was take photos. The scenery can make even my amateurish attempts at art look very good. The day started with a very informative guided tour of the Roman Baths, Constantine’s Basillica and the Porta Nigra and then a spectacular drive through the Mosel Valley to Beilstein for lunch. What a picturesque village this is. And I do apologize for my very limited vocabulary but I can’t think of another adjective as descriptive as picturesque. Today left me awe struck as we drove through village after village of that distinctive German alpine village with forests as the backdrop and quaint villages stretching along the Mosel as is wends it’s way. So serene and so striking at the same time. Throw in the tour of Berg Eltz castle and it was a near perfect day. Rick Steve’s continues to impress with the attention to detail and his back door approach that leaves you feeling like you’re discovering a new world that has existed for millennia.

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To firsts today. Had spargel for the first time, actually cream if spargel soup, and loved it. So tender and flavorful. I’ll probably never have asparagus again ( largely because of dietary restrictions 😆)

Two- went to the Fredriechbad Spa and spent four hours being pampered as never before in nature’s own. For someone like myself who was born without a modesty gene it was a delightful way to spend an afternoon. Love Baden-Baden. It’s a great town to get lost in and now I have a legitimate reason to return. So much to do and so little time.

I am do looking forward to Mürren tomorrow. With luck the weatherman will be wrong once more and we will get great photo ops of Jungfrau, Monch, and Eiger plus I will also be able to heed Katy’s suggestion and paraglide. Life just keeps getting better.

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Fingers crossed for good weather for you for the next 2 days!! Reliving the gorgeous scenery and fun time on this tour.

Thanks for posting! You know we love it!

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My fingers are crossed for good weather for you all, too, but if you don't get it, you still are in Switzerland! We'll hope for the very best. I love the 'idea' of paragliding but not so sure I am brave enough to take that first step........I can only imagine the rush one might get from actually doing it. Now, when in Murren, I did WATCH several gliding off the mountain from the safety of the valley floor.....I did enjoy that very much!! My daughter experienced the bath experience in Baden-Baden that you apparently patronized. Good for you! She told me it was an out-of-the-world experience and loved every second! Spargel soup-delicious!! This tour was one we took as a family. It was thoroughly enjoyed by all ages-grandparents, parents, an uncle and two grandchildren.

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So glad to hear about another marathon trip! Can't wait to read the rest. I will say that we just got off our first RS tour-the Best of Europe in 14 days. The weather report was poor for us in Lauterbrunnen as well but we were definitely able to do all we wanted to do, plus see the three peaks!
Enjoy!

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First of all Katykrip, THANK YOU SO MUCH for the recommendation. Turns out a couple of gals on the tour had followed your blog and seen your video! There ended up being five of us who did the paragliding adventurean to a person they agree with you ( myself included). What an amazing thrill.

Today was action packed starting with a trip up to Schilthorn (from James Bond fame) followed by a fantastic hike through the hills and villages surrounding Mürren, and culminating with the paragliding experience, and what a treat that was! I am so looking forward to see what other surprises Mürren has to offer. I’ve also duscovered a camaraderie with others who risked life and limb to experience the Lauterbrunnen Valley from high ( very, very high) above.

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Yes, Brad.....it's that "risking life and limb" part that gave me pause while we were there. Of course, the minute we left Switzerland, I was very, very sorry I didn't "take the plunge", so to speak :) You have my undying admiration for a job well done!

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Well Andi my dear,

All that means a hat you’ll need to come back Mürren just so you can go paragliding. 😝

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Well Andi my dear,

All that means a hat you’ll need to come back Mürren just so you can go paragliding. 😝

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Can't wait to hear about your trip! We had Hans for our GAS tour in 2015 and we had a blast!

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Left Mürren this morning and it was so hard to say goodbye to Switzerland. Fortunately we have a week in Bavaria to make up for it. Strolling around Munich, listening to all of the World class musicians reminds me of why I first fell in love with this town.

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Brad!!! I'm so proud of you and happy for you (and your tour friends)!!!! Ahh...what a thrill to imagine it all again. It truly was amazing to paraglide in one of the premier places in the world. And I'm so glad to read you gave the Friedrichsburg Spa a try. We did that too and while it was another "putting yourself out there" moment, it was such a magical experience. That dome was awesome! Enjoy the rest of your adventures. Halstatt was another favorite for sure. And if you haven't already been through Salzburg, you're in for a treat! Enjoy.

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Yes, indeed, Brad! I'm one to "always leave something to come back for....". It's certainly true for me and provides the excuses I (don't really) need for my return trips to Europe. I'm not the first to have said that, poor grammar and all😄. I suppose I will actually have to paraglide/parasail (difference? Maybe parachute vs glider?), should I return to a place to do that! And your adventure continues.....so much fun for you!

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Tonight Hans and I went to Herkulessaal at the Residenz Munich to watch Alexander Gadjiev, an Italian pianist, play. He is by far and away the best pianist I’ve personally heard and it was enchanting watching him from the primary concert hall of the Bavarian Monarchy. One of the things I treasure are my musical experiences having seen performances of ballet, opera, classical masters from string quintets, chamber orchestras, opera companies and ballet companies in cathedrals, basilicas, merchants homes, convents, and palaces. It all adds so much to the experiences. Highly suggest these as a great way to immerse oneself into a culture for a much more thorough experience.

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So wish I had a like/love button. Thank you all for your thoughts and shares. What a collaborative effort this is.

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Oh what fun to go to the piano concert with Hans. We just love him!! I think he enjoys "hanging with his group". After our tour of the Rijksmuseum, few of us hung out in the court yard with Hans.

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Tonight Hans and I are taking in dinner and a Mozart concert up in the Hohensalzburg (the castle/fortress) overlooking Salzburg. Last year Hans arranged a dinner/concert for our tour group. He did the same thing on this tour, sadly I didn’t find out he was my tour director until after I purchased the tickets for this concert. But then I can’t bentoo upset after all, a dinner and concert in a 900+ year old castle. It doesn’t get much better!!! Once more, I love these evenings where I get to really take in the European experience.

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First of all I need to give Hans credit where it is due. Forecast has been for rain every day. I don’t know how he’s managed it but the only rain we’ve seen has been at night or when we’ve been on the bus driving between towns!

If you’re planning on being in Salzburg, I can’t say enough about the dinner and konzert at Hohensalzburg. Views are dynamic, food is delicious and the music is superb, especially if you like classical; but even if it’s not your thing the experience cannot be beat.

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It sounds like this was quite an amazing experience for you, Brad. I must ask if Mozart was on the program? 😉. I have always wondered if the food at these concerts is good so thanks for answering that question. I know the views are amazing and I think Salzburg is one of the loveliest of European cities. So happy tour #1 is proving to be all you had hoped it would be! And now Vienna?

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Today is Hallstatt and I can’t wait to be hiking the falls again. Once more it’s a new hotel and I’m hoping I get a view of the lake. Saturday and Sunday we’re on to Vienna and I struggle to believe tour one is drawing to a close.

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Well, I did hike from the village to the salt mines and back. I took my time a thoroughly enjoyed the view. This was even more remarkable since I bruised some ribs on the luge ride earlier in the day so they were barking all the way up and back. The view from the restaurant at the top of the funicular was phenomenal. I do love these alpine villages in Austria and Switzerland. Now we’re off to Vienna for the last two nights of tour one.

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Getting the most out of your tour days! Good for you and happy to hear you didn't let a few bruised ribs slow you down.

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Tour number one is winding down. Tonight we’re in Vienna and of course while everyone else headed off to dinner, I headed for another concert. It was another magical evening listening to a chamber orchestra play Mozart and Strauss ( what else is there in Vienna?) The performance also featured a very good tenor and soprano and two talented dancers so I’m glad I found this one at the last minute. I’ll be here through Monday night and plan on taking in an opera or ballet that night and then return to Vienna after four nights in Bratislava. I’m sure I’ll be searching out new experiences for the next week or so.

I’ll be missing this group of travel buddies. They seems more cohesive than other groups. Don’t get me wrong, each of my previous five groups have been wonderful. This group just seems to function better as a group. It has been a diverse group and that’s kept life interesting.

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Anyone who has followed me knows I like to walk with my head looking at the building tops, and walk I do. Last year when I booked five tours I got a call from Edmonds making sure I understood how demanding RS tours are. Now I tend to take walking to the extreme; for example tomorrow I’ll walk to the Vienna Train station from the hotel and then in Bratislava the same in reverse. I’ll take trains to the airport but that’s the only time I’ll voluntarily take a train. Now if you are thinking of a RS tour don’t let these numbers dissuade you- I’m the freak not the rule. This trip -the GAS one that ended today: 168.2 miles walked, 899 floors climbed (9,000 to 15,000 feet), and 401,753 steps taken.

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I’m sitting in the Vienna train station waiting for my train to Bratislava. I walked here from the hotel, a rather enjoyable two mile stroll watching the “rush” hour traffic of Vienna. So many things to reflect upon. One young lady had a tee shirt proclaiming “We are all different” and as I observed the diversity of people, of ethnicity, of culture, of language, things that are not as readily apparent in Pinetop, Az, I was reflecting on how this diversity is so much a part of the thrill I find in walking the streets of Europe. But then as I watch children, and mothers with children, and grandfathers with children; as I watch teenagers in a music museum, as I watch old friends greeting each other at a sidewalk café, I see how alike we all are. A Muslim mom beams as her toddler plays peekaboo, an Eastern European refugee struggles to provide for his children the best way he knows how; playing a concertina on a corner hoping for a few euros, the young couple from Montenegro buying Mozart Chocolates as a trip gift for grandma who is watching their two children.

This is getting too deep for a Tuesday morning but wouldn’t it be nice if as a human race we could learn to treasure and embrace our differences while at the same time understand that we all want the same things: love, security, and acceptance?

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Thank you, Brad, for your tour descriptions. I will be in Vienna, Hallstatt, Salzburg, and Nürnberg in November and December. I plan to book the dinner concert At Hohensalzburg fortress, as it sounds like you had a good experience there. I also already have tickets for the Vienna opera (La Boheme) and several other musical events while I am in Vienna as well. And then there are also all the Christmas markets which, I am sure, will be interesting to see.

I also second your wish that somehow we could all focus on what unites us as people, rather than what divides us.

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Patricia,

I’m already envious of your La Boheme experience. The Hohensalzburg concert, in my opinion, was a worthwhile experience. The restaurant for dinner looks out, away from the city, towards the mountains and nearby villages. The concert was very enjoyable and once more the venue was a unique (for this Az mountain boy) experience. But I do love antiquity.

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You posted this: "wouldn’t it be nice if as a human race we could learn to treasure and embrace our differences while at the same time understand that we all want the same things: love, security, and acceptance?".

You summed up, so beautifully, the main reason I love to travel: to learn more about other places and people and to remind myself that while we do have differences (that's not a bad thing), we all have much more in common than we may initially realize. I have learned so much about this big, wonderful world we all live in through my travels and yes, I very much believe we all want those same things. Thank you for this post.

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I am ready to resume my RS tours today. I just hope my airline feels the same: two delays since arriving at the airport. One more and I’ll miss the first meeting and walk in Barcelona today.

I had an interesting (at least I thought so) experience yesterday. I went to the airport yesterday to orient myself on getting there and where to go once I arrived. On my way back to the city center there were eight of us on the platform: four gals, obviously friends, three guys, again friends, and myself. We all got on the train when it arrived. As soon as it started up I realized it was heading in the wrong direction. No problem, just get off at the next stop and head back the other way. When the train stopped all eight of us got off. Turns out the ladies were from Ljubljana Slovenia and the guys were from Central Mexico. We all studied the board comparing notes on where we were each headed and best options for getting there. Shortly after we finalized plans a young man came into the platform. I went over to talk to him to see if he had different thoughts. Turns out he is from Serbia. Long story short the now nine of us spent over an hour bonding, comparing preceptiond on each others’ cultures, in short learning and becoming friends. This is one of the many reasons I love touring Europe; the chance to meet and share with some many different people.

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First hiccup for any of my travels. 14:20 departure for a 11:00 flight. Won’t get to the hotel in time for the intro meeting. Maybe I’ll get there in time for the orientation walk.

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I think you had a nice trade off-learning experiences are both eye opening and valuable. While your tour group may not wait for you, you might be able to catch up with them at the restaurant where you will have your first dinner together. I'm sure your tour hotel hosts will know where that is and help you find it. It's possible they could even call your guide and let him/her know what's happening with you? I personally like the way it all played out! And for sure, your tour mates will know who you are! Enjoy Barcelona. So much to see and do there!

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Andi's right; your hotel will help you link up with your group at the restaurant. This happened to us in Palermo. I was sick, and we got tied up at the emergency room (long story.) We missed the first meeting and the orientation walk. When we got back to the hotel, I went to bed, and DH got instructions from the hotel on how to find the group. The hotel desk also called our guide, to let him know Stan was coming. It worked out fine.

And not only did DH have plenty to talk about at that first dinner, at breakfast the next morning everyone knew who I was, without having met me!

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Things worked out well. I got to the hotel and walked into the meeting forty minutes late, but since this was my 7th RS tour I really didn’t miss that much.

I definitely agree with Andi; the trade off was more than worth it. The experiences I had in Bratislava and Vienna while on my own were very memorable and in Bratislava, life altering. The biggest anxiety I had in the airport was that they were going to cancel my flight because every time I looked the flight was delayed a bit later.

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Tonight was one of those nights I live for. I went to dinner and a Flamenco show. I’m guessing it was a typical tourista trap kind of thing but in the long run that is completely immaterial. What I got out of tonight, I will cherish long past my time at Sagrada Família fade. Then dinner was wonderful but then I don’t eat much anymore so meals are no longer a focus. This was my first Flamenco show and I did not know what to expect. What I got I don’t see how I can forget. I was so moved by the energy and passion of each and every performer. I honestly do not remember ever being so captivated and moved by a performance... ever. I’ve been to concerts and ballets that have literally moved me to tears; but tonight I was enthralled from the first clap of a hand and snap of a finger. The passion enthralled and enervated me. I could not keep still; I had to become as they.

And then once more coincidence popped up. While waiting for the show to start I heard a family talking behind me. I asked where they were from and it turns out they live a couple of miles from my daughter, Mikko. Always amazed at how small the world can be. Last week, while I’m Vienna, I went to a theater to watch “The Third Man”. It’s a movie filmed in Vienna shortly after World War II. There were only a handfull of people in the audience and once more I started chatting, I do that a lot when I’m traveling alone, turns out the dad grew up less than a mile from my childhood home and the mom grew up very close to where I now live. One travels around the world to meet ones neighbors.

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Ahhh, Brad! I LOVE reading your posts. :) Glad everything is going so well. When I did the RS France/Loire tour, I walked right past a high school classmate of mine in Arles, France! Hadn't seen her since about 1990! Small world, small world!!

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Small world, indeed. I'd like to take this tour one day so I am following your reports with great interest. Flamenco sounds intriguing, engaging and a wonderful new experience.

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Enjoying the reports. In 2014 I was in Italy traveling my way up, Rome, Florence & Venice. While on Facebook realized one of my Docs I worked with from my time in the Air Force was one city ahead of me the whole time. We ended talking to each other on our cell phones since we were unable to connect in person. During that same trip I was on a Chateau tour outside of Paris. During our lunch break at a vineyard a group of 5 adults were talking about home, the city of Vacaville, where I live. Ended up that 3 of them live in Vacaville & 2 others live in Dixon, a town down the road were I once lived for awhile. Also, one of them worked at a facility where I knew the Safety Officer. Didn't meet anyone on my 2016 trip, maybe in 2019 when I return to Paris & head to Switzerland.

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Today, in Toledo, another RS moment. We had completed the tours and were on our free time. Today is going to be a hot afternoon, 34 degrees, so I decided to grab a bite. Of course you know what I was looking for: an outdoor café with a street musician nearby. I found exactly what I wanted: a small (five tables) café with a musician playing a concertina, mostly Big Band Jazz. While I was enjoying the repast, a group of maybe a dozen students from Lyon France stopped by for some gelato. I chatted with them for a bit and when they went to pay their tab the owner proposed accepting a song in lieu of cash. He went and brought the concertina player over and I was serenaded by a group of jeunes femmes singing La Vie en Rose en Français at a café in a back alley in Toledo, Spain. Life does not get much more magical.

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277 posts

Hello again Brad. I remember you from last year. You are delighting me once again with your fresh eyes seeing the glory of European travel. I know what I'll be doing every evening for a while. I'll be looking for your posts from Spain and beyond. It is crazy about meeting interesting people while traveling. My husband and I were at the Georgia O'Keefe museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico and ran into an acquaintance from our home town in Central Texas. The world gets smaller all the time.

Keep up your posts. Love them.

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Once more my mindless amblings brought about a unique and unexpected experience. This afternoon I was doing what I like best, just wandering through the back alleys of a city I’ve never seen before; this time Granada. I came to an intersection and ad is my nature I took the narrowest option. After strolling maybe thirty feet up the alley I saw two men, both in maybe their twenties. What caugh my attention was one of them was performing CPR on a bird. Mesmerized I watched for a couple of minutes when surprise the bird came to and flew away. No idea how this all came about but it was something I’ve never seen before and doubt I’ll ever see again.

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Brad, Granada is magical.

A few years ago one of our neighbors had a house fire. I remember watching the firemen giving CPR to some kittens. All the fire fighters were gathered around, watching. (The fire had been put out.) When the kitties responded, a cheer went up.

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Hi Brad, I am looking forward to reading about your experiences in Scandinavia. Wondering if you have found some music to enjoy there as well.

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Ah, just another serendipitous moment . What's not to love about travel? And Brad, kudos to you for always taking the "road less traveled". I think they offer so many more opportunities for those special moments.

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Two down; one to go. I loved the Best of Spain tour; again lots and lots of memorable events and as per usual the most memorable were things that I did/stumbled onto/into while exploring on my own. Don’t get me wrong; the churches and museums were beyond fantastic but the wandering and friends I made along the way were what I’ll remember first and most. I will never listen to *La Vie en Rose” again without remembering a café in Granada. I’ll always remember sitting under an umbrella at a sidewalk café in Sevilla watching a summer shower chase the pedestrians from the streets. Or going for a stroll in Arcos and studying the cliffs from the river banks. Adios España and Hej Sverige.

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Hi Jane,

I start the Best of Scandinavia tour on Tuesday: Sweden, Denmark and Norway. Then, sadly, I need to head back to Arizona so I can start earning enough money for next year’s travels. It seems like the more I journey, the greater the wish to travel becomes. I’d love to find a way to just become a full time RS traveler: just move from tour to tour.

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Well then, skål and don't forget to look meaningfully into your companion's eyes when you say it! Have a wonderful last-for-this-summer adventure. It's been fun coming along with you and I am enjoying the particularly personal experiences you are posting.

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Hi Brad! Alice, from your first RS tour here again, just catching up on (and thoroughly enjoying) your latest hijinks in Europe. I love the little unexpected anecdotes sprinkled here and there (CPR on a bird!); I agree those are the best and most memorable moments of travelling. I have been taking copious notes from your GAS tour, which I will be on in late August. Given your and Katykrip’s recommendation, I am seriously considering paragliding in Murren! I have been a fan of flamenco, and well recall the intimate performance in a small cafe in Seville – a spur-of-the-moment find also – and am delighted to hear that you were blown away by your experience. I can’t wait to see what Scandinavian surprises you have in store for us, your eager readers. What trips are you planning for next year??? Take care! Your Italy music buddy, Alice

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7822 posts

This has to be one of the very best trip reports I have read. You have an excellent way of describing your adventures, both the large ones and the tiny ones. Thanks for sharing your trip with us.

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360 posts

Did I miss Brad's reviews/experiences of his Scandinavian trip?

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Brad...what happened to you? I’m waiting for the trip report on your Scandinavia adventure. Don’t leave us hanging!

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Hi Brad.... awaiting your trip report on the Scandinavia tour. I am going on that with two other couples in 2020.

Hope you are having a fantastic time. What is next on your agenda for 2019?

I got my two back to back booked for 2019!

I gotta work more hours too to pay for my trips.

Kim