A Letter to Rick Steves

It is my sincere hope in writing this that through the wonders of the internet, Rick Steves himself will read this letter, and know what a profound impact he and his show have had on our family’s life. But I also hope other parents will read it and realize what a great resource “Rick Steves’ Europe” is, and share it with their children, too.

Dear Mr. Steves:

I have never been to Europe. Actually, I’ve never left the U.S., not even to visit one of our neighboring countries. But I dream of it constantly. Visiting London is at the top of my list. But in addition to traveling to that great city, there are other places I would also like to visit on that list. Germany…specifically at Christmastime. The charming little town of Switzerland. I’d love to tour Italy, one historical location and great restaurant at a time. Not to mention beautiful Sweden, the ancient ruins of Greece, and of course the Loire Valley in France. And that’s just the beginning! If I could, I would travel from North to South, from East to West, across that great continent, and see and taste as many things as possible.

If that sounds like a pipe dream, then the idea of my husband and I traveling with our five children, of showing them the great sights of Europe, is a dream beyond my wildest imagination. Taking that many children “across the pond,” staying for any length of time in Europe’s great cities, visiting the museums, historical locations, and restaurants is basically impossible. It is not something I think many families, certainly not families of our size, could ever afford to do.

But I want my children to know there’s more out there, even if we can’t travel together to see it all. I want them to be the kind of people who would never be mistaken for “Ugly Americans.” I want them to realize that the millions of people living across Europe are fantastic people, with unique cultures, great cuisine, and amazing histories of their own.

Your show has given me the perfect opportunity to “travel” with them. We have explored interesting and diverse cultures, and learned a bit of their histories. We have seen great architecture, landmarks, and works of art. We have heard music and the stories of fascinating people. We have felt that in some small way, we have stepped out of our own home and visited the world. We have watched our favorite episodes so many times that occasionally, we feel like we’ve actually been to some of those places!

I hope that someday, my children will have the chance to travel abroad, and see for themselves the places we’ve learned about on your show. I hope they will experience those cultures firsthand, try the cuisine, visit the museums, talk to the people. But even if they don’t, they have had a glimpse of the greater world, and they have an appreciation for it thanks to the journeys you have shared with us!

Keep on Travelin’! (We’re counting on it!!!)

Amanda Markel

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