Final Thoughts


Photo by Elena Zampiron. Heart of Italy Tour in Volterra, 5 September, 2018

“To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries.” – Aldous Huxley

This trip was successful because Rick Steves has been very clear in creating expectations for his tours.  His tours are not for everyone.  We all signed up to experience destinations like a local, to travel light and be active, to forgo luxury for authenticity.  We even signed a document which outlined expectations and stipulated, “no grumps allowed”.  We were a variety of butchers, bakers, and candlestick makers from different parts of North America.  Yet, we all shared the same goals.  That’s what made for a fantastic tour.


If you paid any attention to my eating habits on this trip, you know I had no concern about eating healthy or moderation.  I ate what I wanted and how much I wanted.  I fully expected that I would gain an extra layer of fat around my midsection once I got back home from my vacation.  Not so!  I actually lost weight.  My theory is that I was so active the entire time that I lost weight instead of gaining it.

As I stated we all had things that made us different than the others.  For me, one of the differences was that I was gay.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what my deal is.  No one ever made me feel unwelcome, treated me any differently, or was hostile.  On the contrary, I felt like a valued part of our group.  I bring this up because there could be other lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, non-binary folk out there considering a tour and wondering about if this would be a good choice.  I say yes.  I say that a Rick Steves tour only cares about taking on someone who wants to broaden their perspective, enjoys life, and wants to travel.


On our last day, I was at the back of our group as we were traveling and I hear Elena shout out, “Where’s Douglas!?”


“I’m back here!”

“Douglas, I have one day off in Venice when we are done and then I start a seventeen day Best of Italy tour.  Come with me!”  Oh! How I wanted to!  But I knew my life back in Philadelphia was waiting.  Maybe I need to change careers and become a Rick Steves tour guide.  Does someone on the 21-day Best of Europe tour need an assistant?

My stories are more entertaining and funnier when things go wrong.  This trip mostly went right.  Not sorry ‘bout it.


Photo by Elena Zampiron; Heart of Italy tour group in front of the Spanish steps in Rome, 2 September, 2018 

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