A picture-perfect celebration
For 23 days in June and July 2004, we took a dizzying, dazzling trip through six countries of Western Europe. It was a new journey to celebrate the 30th anniversary of our wedding on April 6, 1974. We hope you'll feel our enthusiasm for Europe as you navigate through our online words and pictures of our on-the-road memories.
Organized by Rick Steves' Europe Through the Back Door of Edmonds, Washington, our Best of Europe tour included historic sites in major cities and quaint, picturesque villages. We traveled on a half-full full-sized tour bus and stayed in small family run hotels in the heart of the villages and cities we visited.
Apologies for missing photos and photo links on some pages. They went missing during a Comcast "upgrade," and we haven't replaced 'em yet.
Companion trip ...
Our tour group of 25 included friendly, fun, thoughtful and interesting people from Washington, California, Texas, Oregon, Idaho, Colorado and Ohio. Our fellow tour members ranged from a new teenager to young 60somethings, including every decade between them with a newlywed couple, several other anniversary celebrators, a trio of close friends, and daughters on the road with their parents.
By creating this website, we're honoring our comrades in this Europe-through-the-backdoor adventure. We're expressing appreciation for our tour companions as we share our fond photographic memories with them and with our families, friends and colleagues. On Feb. 5, 2005, we enjoyed reliving memories with more than half of our tour group at the annual Rick Steves reunion in Edmonds.
Welcome to all other visitors to our website. All our photos--on these Web pages and in our online album--are yours to enjoy as you wish. (Click on the photos for larger images.)
The group photos above are from the dungeon of Rheinfels Castle in St. Goar, Germany, and the Vernazza breakwater in Cinque Terre, Italy. Behind us in the photo below is the Grand Canal at the Chateau of Versailles near Paris.
Guiding lightly ...
Leading our Rick Steves tour group was fantastic guide Ragan Sewell of Seattle with his terrific assistant, Marijan Kriskovic of Slovenia, and our conscientious bus driver, Matt. They and their local guides led stimulating, informative tours but also gave us ample time to find our own way, get lost temporarily, visit shops old and new, connect independently with our traveling companions, and make our own discoveries.
A hearty thank you to all our guides for helping to make our journey such a fun, well-organized, meaningful experience with limited stress. Our website includes insights and tips that their travel guidance inspired. And thank you to Rick Steves for your mind-broadening global perspectives and opportunities: Rick Steves' Europe Through the Back Door.
At home abroad ...
Finally, our website honors the people who served us in European hotels, restaurants, shops, museums and other locations. Though we were English-speaking Americans visiting foreign countries, nearly all the people we met helped us with respect and good cheer.
Our European journey--Gary's first and Donna's first in 34 years--strengthened our appreciation for the centuries of art and history, diverse humanity, and varied environments on this planet.
With hope for worldwide peace, justice, freedom, and
Copyright Gary and Donna Larson. Updated June 22, 2008.
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18 Nights and Dazed in Eastern Europe (fall 2007)