"I don't know about going on a tour, those guides have likely led the same tour so many times they could do it with their eyes closed," was the comment my wife made after our friends left.
While enjoying margaritas with our friends, John & Judy, the conversation turned to their upcoming 35th wedding anniversary and the possibility the four of us could travel to Europe in the summer of 2009. John & Judy's experience was based on a Rick Steves 21 day Best of Europe tour they had taken in the late 90's, and while no plans were made that day, a seed was planted that resulted in us taking our first trip to Europe just two and a half months later.
It was the 20th of June and we were in Paris. The night was warm, and along with our 20 fellow tour members, we were expectantly looking forward to our last meal together, a fact made even more apparent by everyone actually being at the appointed place at the appointed time, which may have been a tour first .
It was a short walk from our Rue Cler neighborhood to the restaurant, and as our group slowly ascended the steps to the upper room where we would soon be treated to another example of fine french cuisine, the bits and pieces of conversation became more hushed and the quips about this being our last supper subsided. After enjoying our four course meal and the inevitable cup of café, we learned our tour guide, whom we had renamed "Benben" some weeks ago, had one last memorable moment planned for us.
Once the tables were cleared, the room grew quieter as the conversation waned. People kept glancing towards Ben, but he seemed oblivious to what was taking place, busily engaged in conversation with those sitting nearby. At last he tapped his glass....
Sitting under the stars on that warm Parisian evening, we wondered how we could ever hold near those dear friends and wonderful memories.
We discovered there was a way and it was by using the another wonderful backdoor that Rick Steves opened for us, the scrapbook section of his website, so we invite you to come along on our 21 Days through the backdoor of Europe. It's easy, all you have to do is click on the photo of the Eiffel Tower and our Europe as at your fingertips.