April 26, 2014 12:00 AM

Enjoying Europe on a big-bus tour

In my early days, I earned my plane ticket to Europe by working as an escort for a bus tour company. On one tour, I was paired with German guide Monica, a hardened, chain-smoking woman in her 50s who plotted potty breaks as if on a military campaign. She could sense the pain in your bladder even before you got the nerve to raise your hand. Clenching the mic, she’d splice in a terse “cross your legs” midway through a lecture on Mad King Ludwig. Thanks to Monica, I developed an appreciation of tour guide charm — and what a good tour should be.

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