Smart Travels: Europe’s Getaways
A key attraction of travel in Europe is that 30 minutes outside of any city there lurks a getaway, a quiet spot to catch one's breath. In this program, we explore a few such magic places. We begin in peaceful Holland with visits to the windmills and canals of Zaanse Schans and Delft. Then, in the Bavarian Alps, we breathe in pristine Mittenwald and check out the handiwork of a local violinmaker. In Austria, a cruise on the Danube takes us to a spectacular Baroque abbey. Finally, in Tuscany, we go underground to ancient Etruscan tombs beneath the town of Orvieto and sample great wine at Castello Banfi. Tips on how to find one's own hideaway, how to meet locals and how to avoid much tourist hassle.
Smart Travels: Renaissance Europe
Travelers adore Italy, and Italy adores the Renaissance. In this half-hour, we follow Western Europe's transition from medieval to modern times by exploring the arts and ambiance of that vibrant period. In Florence, Milan and Venice, we find works by Brunelleschi, Michelangelo, Raphael, Leonardo and Titian. Side-tripping to France's lush Loire Valley, we visit Renaissance castles and abbeys, including the timeless haunts of Amboise, Chenonçeau, and a few less-traveled chateaux along the way. And we drop into the Northern Renaissance with a visit to Hampton Court and Henry VIII.
Smart Travels: Classical Europe: Ancient Greece and Rome
Here's where we pull together some of Europe's most rewarding sites from the classical world. Ancient Greek and Roman remnants are more than cold stone. They hold centuries of stories. So we revisit some favorite classical sites around the Mediterranean, pick up some new stories and see what kinds of connections we can make. It's the Greeks in Athens, Delphi, Delos, Paestum and Syracuse—and the Romans in Pompeii, Rome and Provence, with a little history of wine and olives thrown in for good measure.
Smart Travels: Sicily
We wend our way across this largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Once the hub of the ancient world, Sicily offers up a vibrant, sun-soaked brew of history, tradition and intense cultural pride. At Palermo, a city bursting with its atmospheric past, we visit the lively market, and marvel at Monreale Cathedral, which shows off remnants of its Arab, Norman and Byzantine past. The finest classical Greek temples outside of Greece stand near Segesta and Agrigento, while the Villa Romana del Casale houses the most extensive and unspoiled Roman mosaics surviving from the ancient world. Then it’s on to ancient Syracuse, once the rival of Athens for wealth and power. Finally, we climb to the top of Mount Etna, for steaming craters and unearthly views. Tips include getting around the island and when to visit.
Smart Travels: Milan and Lake Como
Milan symbolizes the powerhouse Italy of the 21st century—a European center for finance and fashion. We explore Italy's most extravagantly decorated Gothic cathedral, look at Leonardo da Vinci’s famous Last Supper and shop, shop, shop. A visit to the Milan Design Museum shows how, for the Milanese, everyday life is art. We take a train north to serene Lake Como, where we ferry-hop among lakeside villages, explore elegant villas and stop over at the historic Villa D'Este Hotel. A side trip to the ancient city of Bergamo and an alpine festival in the Valtellina complete our journey. Tips include train travel and boat itineraries.
Smart Travels: Vienna and the Danube
Habsburg palaces, coffee houses, Strauss waltzes…all are symbolic of Vienna. Visiting elegant Schoenbrunn Palace, riding in carriages, sampling luscious apple strudel and listening to Mozart concerts, we see that Austria's capital still lives its elegant, proud past. We get a behind-the-scenes peek at how exquisite china is made at Augarten, Europe’s second oldest porcelain manufacturer. For a change from urban to countryside, we cruise down the Danube past vineyards and castles, stop at the dazzling Melk Abbey, and sample "new" wines—unique young varieties special to this part of the world. Tip: Where to experience Vienna’s hot new art scene.
Smart Travels: Salzburg and the Lakes District
In musical Salzburg, we focus on Austria's easy approach to life. We visit the city's grand cathedral, take a funicular up to Europe's greatest medieval fortress, and shop along fine Baroque streets reminiscent of Mozart's time. We visit the house where the young Amadeus was born and where he composed his first masterpiece. Investigating the sumptuous palaces of Salzburg’s prince-archbishops, we discover some “secret” passions. Then we relax in Austria's woodsy "Sound of Music" land, the Salzkammergut Lakes District. We soar high into the mountains to tour magical ice caves and then stroll little spa towns where Europe’s crowned heads once “took to the baths”. Tip: Best bargain for seeing lots of sights in a short amount of time.
Smart Travels: Munich and Bavaria
Munich's lively Marienplatz pulses with outdoor cafes, shoppers, street musicians and happy tourists. At the famous Hofbrauhaus, we sample Bavarian beer and kick up our heels with Schuhplattler dancers clad in lederhosen. Next stop is the Residenz, the family palace built by the Wittlesbachs, who ruled Bavaria for more than 700 years. Just outside of town, a sobering visit to Dachau concentration camp reminds us of the dark side of Germany's past. Then, we move on to lighter vistas—a trip into the mountains takes us to "Mad" King Ludwig's fairytale castle Neuschwanstein and on an exhilarating luge ride. Tip: Finding Bavaria’s best beer gardens.
Smart Travels: Berlin
With world-class cultural sites, dynamic new architecture and unstoppable energy, Berlin is a city on the move. We visit the museums – the ancient treasures of the Pergamon and the Egyptian museum, German Expressionism at the Neue Nationalgalerie and the newly designed Jewish Museum. From dynamic Potzdamer Platz to the stark reminders at Checkpoint Charlie, we feel the past and see the future in Berlin. Our base is the luxurious and historical Hotel Adlon. Even shopping in Berlin brings history with it—we shop and snack at the fabulous KaDeWe department store. An outing to Potsdam takes in the Prussian past. Tips on touring this historic city, and best beers.
Smart Travels: France’s Burgundy and Loire Regions
The Burgundy region boasts top French wines, romantic canals, Romanesque churches and some of France's most renowned cuisine. We base in the small town of Beaune and learn about its history of winemaking. From the vineyards of the Côte d’Or to the culinary delights – we discover the exquisite taste of Burgundy. The city of Dijon and the cathedral at Vezelay add artistic treasures to the Burgundy experience. For the second half of our trip, we head for the Loire Valley and chateaux country. From our home base in Amboise, we visit the famous chateaux, including magnificent Chenonçeau, and François I's overwhelming Chambord. Tips include touring wine country, discovering smaller chateaux and ballooning over the Loire.
Smart Travels: French Riviera
From Nice to St. Tropez, we drop in on the hot spots along the Mediterranean's famous Cote d'Azur. Based in lively Nice, we visit the local beaches and superb modern art museums featuring works by Matisse, Picasso and Signac. A short hop up along the winding Grande Corniche leads to wealthy Monaco. Then it’s on to glamorous Cannes and the lively beaches at Juan le Pins. In stylish St. Tropez, we visit the prettiest beaches and tour the colorful town. Inland, we make our own perfume in Grasse and explore a medieval hill town. Tips include renting a car, and accommodations.
Smart Travels: Greek Islands
On the Greek Islands we get familiar with the ferries as we island-hop the Aegean. Sun-drenched, upscale and exotic, Santorini sits on the rim of an ancient, but still active, volcano. At one end of the island, the archeological site at Akrotiri uncovers a city frozen in time by the volcano's eruption 3,600 years ago. The island of Naxos offers serenity, a low-keyed pace and bargain accommodations. Its massive marble quarries and kouros sculptures were the toast of ancient Greece. We catch some R&R on trendy Mykonos, and then head to sacred Delos—an uninhabited island covered entirely with ancient ruins, and the place where the great god Apollo was born. Tips: Discovering little off-the-beaten-path surprises.
Smart Travels: Athens and the Peloponnese
While Athens sprawls, its historic core survives. After climbing the majestic Acropolis, rowing the Plaka, and cheering Greece’s best folk dancers, we take some easy trips outside the city. We make a pilgrimage to the famed oracle of Delphi and tour a beautiful medieval monastery. Then it’s off to the Peloponnesian Peninsula, where we scope out Nafplion’s charming port and visit the epic ruins of King Agamemnon in the ancient capital of Mycenae. Along the way, we investigate local superstitions and sample tangy specialty treats. Tip: Finding great Greek food, traditional and contemporary.
Smart Travels: A Music Lover’s Europe
For a totally different view of Europe, Rudy shows smart travelers how to organize a trip around a theme. Rudy discovers surprising and fresh takes on Europe as he sets out on a music lover’s tour. Winning, live performances by the Sicilian folk band Diascouri, and by Groupo Emiliano, a zany, classically-trained quartet from Emilia Romagna, are the backbone of this offbeat trip. But performance is just the start. Rudy visits folkdance groups in Greece, Sweden and Norway and delights in the classics in Italy and Austria. And everywhere, the music provides a backdrop for enthralling local scenery and engaging local stories. Tips on organizing a trip around a theme.
Smart Travels: Europe Just For Fun
As more travelers return to Europe for multiple visits, many are on the lookout for another dimension in travel. Occasionally they want to skip historical sights and museums in favor of a trip—or a day—just for fun. They're ready for absolute R&R; looking to break up serious sightseeing with hot-air-balloon trips, mountain luge rides, country hikes or days at an amusement park. They’re seeking new adventures in Europe—flights of fancy—spiced with great meals and local libations of course. This time, Rudy shares his personal picks of Europe Just for Fun.
Smart Travels: Four Great Cities II
We can jet to Europe in a day and visit four cities in less than a week. It’s great to take your time but sometimes you only have a day to visit. How can you be part of the international jet set and still get a taste of “old” Europe? This time Smart Travels takes viewers on a whirlwind tour of four cities that represent a bit of the old and bit of the new in Europe. Rudy shows viewer how to get the most out of one-day visits to Copenhagen, Berlin, Munich, and Rome. Tips on maximizing travel memories from a 24-hour stay in a European big city.
Smart Travels: Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast
Europe’s best kept secret, the Croatian coast of Dalmatia dazzles with stunning white stone cities and azure waters. We begin in Dubrovnik, then island hop up the coast, snorkeling, swimming, sunning and reveling in the scenery. In Split we visit a Roman emperor’s palace and make excursions to ruins, timeless towns and fortresses. Tips on boating, food and driving.
Smart Travels: Rome Day Trips
We leave the eternal city behind by way of the famous Appian Way to explore the environs of Rome. First it’s the majesty of Emperor Hadrian’s villa and the wine and lakes of the Alban Hills. Next, it’s south to the ancient seaport of Ostia, Rome’s Pompeii. Along the way we watch olive oil pressing, stop at the ancient’s favorite beach and visit a medieval hilltop town. Tips on tasting olive oil and navigating Rome’s ring road.
Smart Travels: Alpine Christmas
Hot-spiced cider and strains of “O Tannenbaum” warm our hearts as we head to Europe for Christmas. Switzerland has a special glow this time of year and we find plenty of good cheer in the bright Christmas markets and toasty ski lodges. We begin in the magical atmosphere of Zurich, with its glittering trees and festive music. Then we veer off the beaten path to the medieval town of Bremgarten for a visit with St. Nicholas. Finally, we discover a winter paradise in glamorous St. Moritz, the famous ski resort with the "dry, sparkling champagne climate". Tips on Christmas ornaments and winter sports.
Smart Travels: Switzerland and the Alps
The Swiss Alps reverberate with cowbells, accordions, and laughter. We make our home base in the year-round playground of Interlaken, the “town between two lakes”. We sail across glacial Lake Brienz, famous for its beautiful woodcarving. We head to the spectacular Lauterbrunnen Valley for a heart-stopping gondola ride to alpine heights, and hike past flower-filled meadows and mountain chalets. Then it’s off to vibrant Zurich for shopping, chocolate and tasty Swiss cuisine. Tips on transit passes and buying cheese
Smart Travels: France’s Bordeaux and the Dordogne
The world’s finest wines, sweeping vineyards and fine food couple with a river valley dotted with castles. We sample the best Bordeaux then cruise the lovely Dordogne and Lot rivers with stops at chateaux, ancient watermills, and perched villages. Cooking classes and an underground adventure to see pre-historic cave paintings round out the trip. Tips on wine tasting and walking paths.
Smart Travels: France’s Carcassonne and the Pyrenees
From a fairy tale fortress to the gentle Pyrenees, Rudy takes in the castles and peaks of this magical region. We tour the largest fortress in Europe, Carcassonne, and sample the local stew, Cassoulet. A gallop through the countryside takes in several romantic castle ruins and the artwork of Toulouse Lautrec. Then we head for high country and one of the world’s natural wonders – a mountain amphitheatre with cascading waterfalls. Tips on driving in France, and mountain trails.
Smart Travels: Madrid
The Spanish capital Madrid welcomes us with grand plazas and sparkling fountains. First stop is the Prado, one of Europe’s great museums and home to Goya, El Greco and Velázquez. We tour El Palacio Real, the seat the Spanish empire, and the Monasterio de las Descalzas Reales, a fascinating hoard of art treasures hidden away in the center of the city. After dark we sway to the rhythms of Flamenco dancers and lose ourselves in Madrid’s pulsating nightlife. Then we day-trip to the imperial city of Toledo to roam the twisting streets and narrow alleyways of this historic center. Tips on traditional food and jewelry.
Smart Travels: Barcelona and Costa Brava
A Mediterranean marvel, Barcelona simmers with beautiful beaches, medieval mazes, eye popping art and hypnotic architecture. From tapas bars, to surrealist art, to Modernist structures, we’ll feast on Barcelona’s delights. Rambles along La Rambla, Gaudi’s treasures, a neighborhood festival, designer shopping and waterfront fun are some of the highlights. For the best in beaches we head north to the coves of the Costa Brava. Tips on tapas and nightlife.
Smart Travels: Edinburgh and Scotland
Friendly and feisty, Scotland makes us feel right at home. In Edinburgh, we climb the ramparts of this city’s famous castle, shop for kilts, visit mysterious Rosslyn chapel and thrill to a spooky ghost tour. Then we head to historic St. Andrew’s to practice our swing on the world’s most famous golf course. In the Scottish highlands, we try our hand at skeet shooting and falconry, and tour the Dewar’s whisky distillery. Then it’s off to historic Stirling to stroll the battlefields of Braveheart before setting sail on legendary Loch Lomand. Tips on golf and Scotch whisky.
Smart Travels: Bath and South Wales
We conjure a bit of magic when we visit the Georgian city of Bath and follow tales of Camelot into South Wales. In Bath, we marvel at ancient Roman spas and peek into the high society of Jane Austen’s day. We stop by Wells to admire that city’s spectacular cathedral, and we quest for the Holy Grail in the mystical town of Glastonbury. The poignant landscape of Wales’ Wye River Valley offers a wealth of scenic riches. We investigate Caerleon’s claim to King Arthur and explore a ruined abbey that inspired poet William Wordsworth. Tips on bookstores and country fairs.
Smart Travels: Four Great Cities of Europe
London, Paris, Amsterdam and Brussels. A European city bustles—it’s a hub of commerce and the arts, energy, surprise, and international flavor. Where do you start if you have just 24-hours? Here, we highlight some best choices of the urban culture in four great cities. London calls for high tea at the Athenaeum and modern art at the New Tate. Paris treats us to impressive dining, the Musee D’Orsay and the Pompidou. Rembrandt’s The Night Watch and traditional rijsttafel dinner are mandatory in Amsterdam, and in 1000 year-old-Brussels, we land in what some call “the most beautiful town square in Europe.” Europe’s great cities stay with you.
Smart Travels: Medieval Europe
The medieval world is one of the big draws of European Travel. Moody ruins, “tippy” towers, cobbled streets, sparkling mosaics, monasteries, castles, and cathedrals form the core of many a tourist’s dreams. In this episode we revisit some favorite spots and toss in a few new sights as we make a little sense out of a fascinating 1000 years—from the fall of Rome to the dawn of the Renaissance. We sort it all out with several short itineraries in Ireland, Austria, Germany, and France.
Smart Travels: France’s Normandy
From a dramatic, historic coast to rural pastures, this sweet section of France abounds with apple orchards, enchanting villages, stunning abbeys and sparkling seaports. We base in the lovely seaside town Honfleur. At Giverny, and in the museums in Rouen and Honfleur, we discover the birth of Impressionism. Near the famous beaches of Normandy, the Norman Conquest unfolds in the Bayeux tapestry and we remember the poignant victory of World War II’s D-day. Cider and cheese draw us to the lovely farmland just inland from Honfleur. Our journey ends at the awe inspiring Abbey of Mont-St-Michel. Tips on car rental, shopping for antiques and touring cider country.
Smart Travels: France’s Champagne Region
The Champagne region of France bubbles over with fine wine, gourmet cuisine, picturesque towns and gothic spires. We base in Reims, home of the historic cathedral where French kings were crowned. From Reims, we tour wine country, visiting champagne producers both large and small. In the medieval town of Troyes, we shop for fine chocolate and discover a collection of modern art. North of Reims, the city of Charleville delights with its golden architecture and tradition of puppetry. Our final destination is the imposing fortress of Sedan, the largest castle in Europe. Tips on how to buy quality champagne and touring wine country.
Smart Travels: Oslo & Norway
The grand panoramas of Norway prove irresistible to adventurers. In Oslo, we see testaments to maritime prowess in Viking Ships and the celebrated Kon Tiki raft. We “Scream” with painter Edvard Munch before heading south to the glorious vistas of Telemark country. After dropping by the home of playwright Henrik Ibsen, we’re off to a boisterous celebration of Norwegian village life, complete with traditional costumes, dancing and potato pancakes. Next it’s a ride on Europe’s most spectacular railway and a boat cruise through the impossibly beautiful scenery of the fjords. We end up in Bergen, Norway’s best-preserved medieval city, taking in a traditional stave church and views that inspired composer Edvard Grieg. Tips on railroad travel.
Smart Travels: Stockholm & Sweden
Sweden is a natural-born beauty, winning us over with luxuriant landscapes and sleek Scandinavian style. We cruise through Stockholm’s sun-dappled archipelago, visit a designer hotel and sip cocktails in the trendy Ice Bar (a lounge built completely of ice!). We stroll through the Karl Milles sculpture garden, and admire the world’s best-preserved 17th century warship, the Vasa. Then it’s off to the woodsy “Kingdom of Crystal” where we peek in on Sweden’s best glass artists and get rowdy at a traditional herring dinner. We pay tribute to a grand medieval castle once called the “key to Sweden”. Then we escape to the vacation island of Öland, an out-of-the-way charmer with timeless windmills, ancient ruins and glorious sand beaches. Tips on shopping for glass.
Smart Travels: Prague & Budapest
We leave Western Europe behind as we venture to the exotic cities of Prague and Budapest. In Prague, we marvel at the startlingly beautiful old town and tour the labyrinthine castle that haunted writer Franz Kafka. Bohemian glass dazzles us as we browse the flourishing shops in this former Communist country, and we witness the scene of the “Velvet Revolution”. Then it’s off to Budapest where we surrender ourselves to steamy mineral spas, get serenaded by Gypsy music in one of the city’s most traditional restaurants, and sway to the rhythms of Hungarian dancers. We round out our trip with Budapest’s regal Opera House, and monuments of a bygone era in the Communist Statue Park. Tips on luxury hotels.
Smart Travels: Italy’s Veneto & Dolomites
Graced with charming cities, countryside villas and precious art, this corner of Northern Italy also features a playground of Alpine peaks and meadows. After a spectacular night at the opera in fair Verona’s Roman arena, we set out in search of Giotto’s colorful frescoes in Padua and architect Palladio’s palatial villas in Vicenza and the surrounding countryside. Then we head for the hills and the dramatic peaks and meadows of the Dolomite Mountains. Tips on touring the Veneto countryside, shopping for gold and staying in a mountain inn.
Smart Travels: Bologna & Emilia Romagna
Known the world over for its wheels of golden cheese, its sweet prosciutto and divine vinegar, this slice of Northern Italy is a feast. From our base in Bologna we eat our way across the region, taking in the glorious art and culture along the way: cheese and mosaics in Parma, Balsamic vinegar and racecars in Modena, ham, pasta and university life in Bologna. An excursion to the mountainous Apennines, a trip to Ravenna’s brilliant 6th century mosaics and a beach resort at Rimini round out the adventure. Tips on sampling the region’s delicacies and agri-tourism hotels.
Smart Travels: Germany’s Rhine and Mosel Rivers
For centuries the Rhine has been a natural border and the main route for trade, people and ideas. We start in the ancient Roman city of Trier and travel up the Mosel River visiting vineyards and ancient castles. We’ll take a scenic cruise down the Rhine for a sailor’s eye view of famous Rhine castles and the lovely but dangerous Lorelei. In Koblenz we’ll see where Julius Cesar destroyed two Germanic tribes but was never able to conquer Germany, and just down stream we’ll see where American troops first crossed the Rhine during World War II at the bridge at Remagen. Our trip concludes in the city of Cologne where we’ll visit the modern art museum and sample Kölsch, the local beer. Tip: Taking a cruise down the Rhine.
Smart Travels: Germany’s Romantic Road
The Romantic Road winds through some of Germany’s most picturesque countryside complete with medieval villages and Baroque Palaces. We start our journey in Würzburg where we visit the spectacular Baroque Bishop’s Palace or Residenz and taste wine at one of Würzburg’s many wine festivals. Next we visit the castle of the Teutonic Knights in Bad Mergentheim and a short distance away the Deutsches Auto Museum in the Renaissance Castle of Prince Hohenlohe-Langenburg. Every July the medieval town of Dinkelsbühl celebrates the day the children saved the town during the Thirty Years War. We get a front row seat complete with dancing, music and an historic reenactment. We finish our trip in Rothenburg, the best preserved medieval walled city in Germany. Tip: Travel options along the Romantic Road.
Smart Travels: Dublin and Beyond
Irish eyes are smiling when we explore Dublin, Ireland’s urban core. There’s history around every corner, and Dublin delights with Trinity College, the Book of Kells, the famous Guinness Brewery, and the infamous Kilmainham jail where Irish rebels spent their last days. We liberally sample pub life while tapping our toes to traditional music, and follow in the footsteps of famous Irish writers on a literary pub-crawl. Beyond Dublin, we find inspiration in the hillsides of Glendalough, site of Ireland’s revered monastery, and the Hill of Tara, home of the ancient Irish kings. A side trip to Northern Ireland’s best folk park brings the Eire of yesteryear to life. Tips on visiting Dublin’s literary sites.
Smart Travels: Ireland’s West Coast
We’re blessed with a bit of Irish luck as we take on Ireland’s ruggedly beautiful west coast. We start in Galway, Europe’s fastest growing city, shopping for Irish crystal and Celtic jewelry. Then it’s a salt-sprayed boat trip to the fabled Aran Islands where we reach breathless heights at a Stone Age fort and ferret out traditional hand-knit sweaters. Heading south, we pass through the eerie landscape of the Burren, sample the best of Irish folk music, and binge on a medieval banquet at Bunratty Castle. In the lush forests of Killarney, we visit the country manor of Muckross, before touring the stunning Dingle Peninsula. Tips on renting bicycles.
Smart Travels: Copenhagen and Denmark
Join Rudy in the wondrous kingdom of legend and fairytale - Denmark. Here Vikings plundered and Hans Christian Anderson spun children’s stories. In cozy Copenhagen, we splurge on pastries, visit the Little Mermaid and dance till dawn at Tivoli Gardens. On a day trip to Roskilde, we check out three incredibly well preserved Viking ships. We ride horseback through the Danish countryside, stroll through writer Karen Blixen’s gardens, and storm the moat at “Prince Hamlet’s” Castle. Tips on canal rides and museum passes.
Smart Travels: Amsterdam and the Netherlands
The country of the Netherlands inspired the Dutch masters and became a powerhouse that conquered the sea. We bicycle to Amsterdam’s great art museums to see the works of Van Gogh and Rembrandt. Then we climb to the attic where Anne Frank and her family hid from the Nazis. Later, we prowl windmills and check out Amsterdam’s infamous red-light district. Next stop is the Hague, home to the International Court of Justice. Finally, we peek at the delightful city of Delft where we learn techniques for making world-renowned china. Tips on riding trolleys and buying Delftware.
Smart Travels: Brussels and Belgium
For centuries, Belgium has been a sophisticated hub for gourmets and connoisseurs. In true Belgian style, we treat ourselves to superb chocolate and sample first-rate beer. We indulge our senses with folk music and Bruegel paintings, and investigate the people’s passion for comic strips. Then we drive to breathtaking Bruges, a medieval city suspended in time. There, we cruise the canals, admire intricate handmade lace and pay homage to a Michelangelo masterpiece. Tips on hearty Belgian cuisine and lace making.
Smart Travels: Out Of London
The countryside outside of London echoes with storybook images. Around every hedgerow are mythic castles, ruined abbeys and prehistoric monuments. This time, we leave London and stop at Hampton Court, where Henry VIII wooed Anne Boleyn. We gaze on Oxford’s dreamy spires and browse in the real Alice in Wonderland’s candy store. Next, we pay a visit to Jane Austen’s house, puzzle over the mysterious megaliths of Stonehenge, and pursue tales of Camelot in the royal city of Winchester. Tips on living in England and visiting country pubs.
Smart Travels: London
London is a city that has come close to ruling the world. With a legacy that includes Shakespeare and the Beatles, London seems to have an endless capacity to reinvent itself. Here, we sip tea and savor traditional sights such as Buckingham Palace and the Changing of the Guard. We pop in to see where Charles Dickens penned Oliver Twist, and get a bird’s-eye view of contemporary London from the new London Eye observation wheel. Finally, we check out cutting edge artwork at the newly opened Tate Modern Art Museum. Tips on using cell phones and cash machines.
Smart Travels: Paris
Rudy escorts us through Paris, the city of style, art and pastries. We experience extraordinary art - the Impressionist collection at the Musee D'Orsay and the garden sculpture at the Rodin Museum. Then we hit the sites from Notre Dame to the Pompidou Center to the Eiffel Tower. We stroll through the parks, markets and cafes in this city where everyday life is art. Rudy leads us to intimate neighborhoods such as the Marais and its lovely Place des Vosges, the bohemian Latin Quarter and artistic Montmartre. Tips on riding the Metro and shopping for the essentials - bread, cheese, ham and pastries.
Smart Travels: Provence
Sun, olive trees and cicadas - we're in the heart of France. With our base in the sleepy town of St. Remy, we make forays into the villages, countryside and cities of Provence. Driving tours of the Alpilles and Luberon regions take us to the red rock village of Rousillion, the lavender ensconced Abbey of Senanque, and the picture perfect village of Eygalieres. We also take in the delights of Provence's cities, Arles, Avignon and Aix-en-Provence. We end our adventures with a dip in the Mediterranean at the seaside village of Cassis. Tips on how to rent a vacation home in France and enjoying the many summer festivals.
Smart Travels: Hill Towns of Tuscany and Umbria
Castles, vineyards, walled cities and a fierce medieval rivalry that lingers today - we're out for an adventure in the Italian hill towns. Our base is dramatic Siena, home of the intensely competitive Palio horse race. From Siena we explore the multi-towered town of San Gimignano, watch grapes being harvested at a winery and drop in on the cheese festival in Pienza. Then south to Rudy's secret pick - the haunting hill towns of Pitigliano and Sovana. In Umbria we discover Etruscan tombs, visit the home of St. Francis of Assisi and pick up some pottery in quaint Gubbio. Tips on driving through the maze-like streets of a hill town and finding a place to stay.
Smart Travels: Florence
In this glorious city, rich in art, Rudy brings the Renaissance to life. We visit the great museums - the Uffizi, Bargello, and Accademia, as well as the landmarks of the Renaissance - the Duomo, Bapistery and Giotto's Tower. Rudy's tip for beating the crowds is peaceful Oltr'arno on the other side of the river. An excursion outside of town leads to a Medici villa, a sleepy Tuscan town and a museum with inventions by Leonardo da Vinci. Tips on shopping and how to buy quality leather products.
Smart Travels: Genoa and the Italian Riviera
We’re off to the Italian Riviera seeking la dolce vita in one of the world’s most romantic places. With death-defying cliffs and beaches that shimmer like jewels, the Riviera is as stunning a coastline as anywhere in Europe. In the port town of Genoa, we tour palaces for a taste of old-world elegance and dine on world-class pesto. Then we head south to the famous resort of Portofino and the sea cliff towns of the Cinqueterre. Finally, we battle vertigo at Pisa’s leaning tower. Tips on using train passes and finding addresses.
Smart Travels: Venice
Join Rudy as he surrenders himself to the charms of magical Venice. We tour the famous sites - Piazza San Marco, the fairy tale Basilica of San Marco and the Rialto Bridge. Rudy also shows us how to escape the crowds by visiting the neighborhoods of Dorsoduro, Cannaregio and San Polo. Along the way, he takes us for a rousing drink at the city's oldest wine bar, on a dreamy gondola ride and to a traditional Venetian mask shop. In search of hand blown glass, lace and the birthplace of Venice, we journey to the lagoon islands of Murano, Burano and Torcello. Tips on how to navigate your way round this watery city.
Smart Travels: Rome
Rudy is in the city where all roads lead - Roma. We begin in ancient Rome - the Forum, Palatine Hill, Colosseum, and Baths of Caracalla. Then we explore modern Roman life on the streets and in cafes, pizzerias and gelaterias. We detour to another country, Vatican City, then shop along the Corso and relax at the Piazza di Spagna. Rudy's pick for best city walks are a tour of the historic center and a stroll in shady Trastevere. Tips on getting around and places for tasty snacks.
Smart Travels: Naples & the Amalfi Coast
Deep in the heart of Italy, Naples is the ideal launching point for exploring some of the country’s great historic treasures. We marvel at the ancient city of Pompeii and the devastation of Mount Vesuvius and we trek across a still-active volcano. Then we move on to stylish Sorrento, where we sample luscious gelato and hop a ferry to the isle of Capri. We drive the thrilling Amalfi coast to take in spectacular views, and further south we visit Paestum, home to the best Greek ruins outside of Greece. Tips on Capri’s funicular and Pompeii’s train.
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