101 places Rick Steves doesn't know


Nov 27th, 2010, 01:14 AM
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Thanks for mentioning Weimar, lavandula. Weimar is immensely significant for Germans, maybe even the spiritual heart of Germany. Luther, the Cranachs, Goethe, Schiller, Liszt, Nietzsche, Bach, Herder, Kandinsky, Gropius and many others lived and worked there. The Bauhaus and the first German parliamentary republic were founded in Weimar. The town moreover was the capital of a small Saxon duchy. Today it is a small, quite town with a preserved old town, several castles and summer residences, parks and sadly, we shouldn't forget it, also Buchenwald concentration camp. The best and worst of Germany in a small town.

Old + new casle:
Market square:
Street in the old towns:
Epitaph of some Saxon dukes in the so called Herder church. Herder and Luther preached, Bach played here, and Cranach painted the altar:
In the old town:
Belvedere, the summer residence of the dukes:
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Nov 27th, 2010, 01:44 AM
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cynthia, I completely agree with your post. My husband and I took our first train ride in Italy a couple weeks ago. His guide book made it so easy, he took us from point A to point B,C and D. We couldn't afford to make a mistake, our schedule was very tight.
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Nov 27th, 2010, 01:58 AM
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I wonder what a "mistake" means. Not ticking off all the places on the top star list? Seeing the 'wrong' places? As long as you enjoy them, what could be wrong?
There are at least 10,000 other places in Italy (Germany, France, insert any other country of your choice) that are just as interesting and worth visiting as the top-rated ones. There is no such thing as "must sees" - no one will question you at the airport and not let you depart because you have not seen A, B, or C. Some places are still famous although their past glamour is long lost, some because of heavy promotion by some famous author, while the place next-door which is just as nice goes unnoticed.
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Nov 27th, 2010, 02:22 AM
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I agree with Cynthia - I would have liked this thread a lot better without the condescending "we're so much better than you" attitude. Why didn't the OP simply call it Undiscovered Gems in Germany?

No one on Fodors has said Rick Steves is the be-all and end-all travel guide for Americans (even if certain posters have decided to twist it that way). And he does serve a purpose - if he makes novice travelers more confident about traveling independently, then they will be more likely to do it again and venture farther afield on subsequent journeys.

My brother is using FF miles to make a short (five day) trip to Amsterdam from the U.S. next month, his first visit there. He called me for advice and told me he had bought the Rick Steves guide. I may have inwardly rolled my eyes but told him to have a great time and offered a few day-trip suggestions. If the RS guide helps him enjoy his trip, then it's done its job.

The suggestions here are greatly appreciated; the attitude isn't.
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Nov 27th, 2010, 08:46 AM
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" If the RS guide helps him enjoy his trip, then it's done its job."
Good point.

Very few people have the time (or means ) spend weeks bopping around from one "hidden gem " to another without "interference " of some planing or a tourist guide.
In addition, everyone has their own interests which may not be "exploring" 1001 small towns.
Europeans might be able to enjoy such luxury, but most overseas travelers have to spend several thousand dollars before they even touch down in Europe.
If RS or another guide enables them to take that step , so be it.
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Nov 27th, 2010, 09:28 AM
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I agree that RS guides serve a purpose. His guides give specific information for finding sights so you don't go wandering around lost. When you are limited to say 5 days, you will not enjoy yourself if you spend half your time lost and are too tired to actually enjoy the monument when you finally find it. While I may not be interested in seeing the things he recommends, many are. Several years ago a friend and I went to Paris. I lent her several travel guides, including RS and Fodors. When she was planning a trip to London, she chose RS guide because it suited her.

I guess if it makes you feel more sophisticated to put RS and his followers down, go for it. But I agree that the Fodors forum is my go-to planning guide for European travel. Far better than even the Fodors books.
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Nov 27th, 2010, 09:31 AM
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I don't have a problem with Rick Steves in general - in fact I enjoyed reading his "Postcards from Europe" book a while back - but to leave a major city like Hamburg out of a Germany guidebook is perplexing. As far as I can tell, he ignores northern Germany entirely except for Berlin. You can offer good basic advice to first-time travelers while still doing justice to all the major regions of a country.
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Nov 27th, 2010, 02:54 PM
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To me Rick Steves serves the same purpose as guided tours - it's a nice introduction and overview to new vistas. It's like a Chinese buffet - you sample a little of everything than return for what you really like best.
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Nov 27th, 2010, 03:21 PM
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His books are awful. His omissions and revlations are not helpful even to a new traveler. His writing is often lazy. In fact, he may create a greater disservice to a new traveler since they are inexperienced and could benefit from a broader and deeper perspective, as could we all.
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Nov 27th, 2010, 03:29 PM
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I have a lot of good feelings about Rick Steves show and guide books. They are what got my wife and I into independent travel, a huge passion for us now. Thank you Rick.

As a comparison I think about writigs a travel guidebook on the US. Wouldn't we all start with NY, LA, Boston and Las Vegas and then start filling in with the other cities like New Orleans, Chicago, San Francisco, Dallas, Seattle and Denver (sorry if I didn't inclued your city).
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Nov 27th, 2010, 04:54 PM
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I don't like travel guides with a strong personal bias, regardless who the author is.
Browsing through the index of the Rick Steves "Germany" guide, I'd say that the proper title should be "Southern Germany's Most Visited Destination And A Bit Of The Rest Of The Country".
I'd also not waste my money on a California travel guide that had 90 percent information on SF, LA, Yosemite NP, Hwy 1 - and a few pages on 80 pct of the "rest" of the state. Even if I come to the conclusion that Lassen Volcanic NP, Death Valley, or Bakersfield are not my cup of tea, I'd prefer to reach that conclusion myself.
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Nov 27th, 2010, 07:01 PM
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Another "merci" to Rick Steeves - I watched his shows long before I went to Europe for the first time some 14 years ago. He serves a purpose, encourages independent travel, and shows respect for the culture, history, and people in the countries he visits.
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Nov 27th, 2010, 08:18 PM
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Hey, is this a Rick Steves thread -or- a 101 places thread? Is it preferred to restrict the posts to Germany? What about France or Italy, very popular destinations but I'm sure many great places are overlooked or not known to foreign travelers. This thread had a great start but got derailed - can we get it back on track please?
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Nov 27th, 2010, 09:57 PM
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I do hope someone starts a thread on 101 places not usually in guide books for France, England etc. Sorry, have only been to an airport in Germany so nothing to contribute.
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Nov 28th, 2010, 05:01 AM
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I’m a fan of guide books, and I think they serve a good purpose. Most books tell more than what is worth seeing – stuff like how to use a European phone, protocols for tipping, how trains operate, generally some language. Most people would have a more enjoyable trip to anywhere if they were informed, if for no other reason than that it saves time, and often money.

After that, it comes down to the “tone’ of the book, and some are better than others, or more informed than others. Rick Steves writes for a market, an American market (I’ve never seen his books for sale in Aus), and the most common American visit to Europe is for two or three weeks, and moving around a fair bit. I guess that his rather brisk style suits some people, people who are often taking a brisk tour.

It takes a lot of time to get off the beaten track, a few visits, and being a peripatetic tourist is not for everyone.
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Nov 28th, 2010, 04:07 PM
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Great brew indeed.
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Nov 28th, 2010, 07:20 PM
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Nov 28th, 2010, 10:41 PM
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OK enough Rick Steves, how about more suggestions?
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Nov 29th, 2010, 01:04 AM
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This BBC Radio 4 programme inspired me to visit Germany's lesser known areas.

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Nov 29th, 2010, 01:27 AM
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Yes, I'm rather sad about the turn this thread has taken. Earlier posts inspired me to start planning a trip in and out of Berlin with a secondary stop in Eastern Germany to see some of the lovely 101 places being touted there. I'm up for less emphasis pro or con on Rick and more on these wonderful options to inspire travelers.
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