Europe comes to Edmonds for Rick Steves’ annual ‘Test Drive a Tour Guide’ event

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Rick Steves takes a coffee break with five-year lead guide veteran Istavan Koteczki of Hungary.
Rick Steves takes a coffee break with five-year lead guide veteran Istavan Koteczki of Hungary. (Photos by Larry Vogel)
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The Prague Castle Orchestra comprised of bassist Jaroslav Kovar, Joseph Kozurek on flute and vocals, and accordionist Jan Kocurek gave a special performance during the reunion. They’ve been working with Rick for 14 years in Prague, and this year Steves flew them in for their first-ever performance in the U.S.

It happens once every year.

Edmonds’ own Rick Steves brings a host of past tour customers and tour guides from across Europe to Edmonds for the annual Test Drive a Tour Guide Event.

It’s really two events in one. The first is a reunion of tour customers from past years, some of whom have signed on for more than a dozen of Steves’ tours over the years.

“It began as a small potluck back when I had just one bus and led the tours myself,” Steves said.

The annual Tour Alums reunion began at 8:30 am with a potluck breakfast at the Edmonds Convention Center.  The event conincides with Rick Steves' annual Test Drive a Tourguide event, a series of lectures and classes where participants hear about the various tours from the guides who actually lead them.  Events run through Saturday evening.
The annual Tour Alums reunion began at 8:30 am with a potluck breakfast at the Edmonds Convention Center.

But in the intervening years, as word of his unique “Europe Through The Back Door” approach spread and his tours gained in popularity, the annual reunion has grown to attract hundreds of past customers who get the chance to reconnect with their fellow tourists and the guides who led them.

The other event, Test Drive a Tour Guide, comprises a series of presentations and lectures where anyone who is interested can learn about Steves’ tours and meet the guides who lead them. Those went on all day Saturday, free to the public.

Dave Willet from Greece and Susie Millar from Ireland greet Rick Steves tour alums at the information desk in the Edmonds Convention Center lobby.
Dave Willet from Greece and Susie Millar from Ireland greet Rick Steves tour alums at the information desk in the Edmonds Convention Center lobby.
Concepction Delgado, in traditional Spanish dress, works for Rick as a local guide in Spain. "I meet groups each morning at their hotel, and take them through a special itinerary of hand-picked places," she said.
Concepction Delgado, in traditional Spanish dress, works for Rick as a local guide in Spain. “I meet groups each morning at their hotel, and take them through a special itinerary of hand-picked places,” she said.

1 COMMENT

  1. Thank you, once again, Rick for keeping Edmonds on the map! It’s a lot of fun having your guides visit my store and learn of their colorful lives (and enjoy their business!) You are a great support to my business and I appreciate it.

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