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Alright so just who is this Rick Steves geezer and how come I've never heard of him?

Alright so just who is this Rick Steves geezer and how come I've never heard of him?

Jan 10th, 2002, 05:42 AM
  #1  
david west
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Alright so just who is this Rick Steves geezer and how come I've never heard of him?

I see a lot of posters (presumably American) referring to Rick Steves. Could you plaese tell me:

1) who is he? I'm assuming a travel writer, but he is completely unknown in Briatin (or I may be exposing my considerable ignorance)

2) Is he any good? Is he a Bill Bryson type commentating on where he goes or is it along the lines of "lets go" (an American travel guide I have heard of, and quite possibly the most useless books on the planet, unless you have a wonky table leg to prop up)?

3) why so popular?

4) Where could I see some of his stuff?

thanks
 
Jan 10th, 2002, 05:48 AM
  #2  
dan woodlief
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www.ricksteves.com
 
Jan 10th, 2002, 05:51 AM
  #3  
Pat
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Rick is a travel writer in the US. He stays in budget accomodations. I think he has some guide pratical guide books. He provides more tips on how to get around and see lots on a budget.
You could probably find them on Amazon. com
He has a Mona Winks book that covers museums in Europe, plus coutry specific books.
 
Jan 10th, 2002, 05:54 AM
  #4  
Rex
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I think you are exposing SOME ignorance. Your header sounds a little hostile towards him. Is that warranted for some one you could easily research? But I won't lecture you further.

Rick Steves has been one of the best known travel writers for 25 years. A survey of best-selling travel books for Europe on Amazon.com will show you the high regard his books have achieved, if sales are any indication of popularity.

He's achieved popularity for some of these reasons:

1. He promotes independent travel, and exploring lesser-known hotels, restaurants, cities and attractions. Unfortunately, this has given rise to the "Rick Steves phenomenon" which he has even written about in his books. Once he describes a favorite "lesser-known" place, it becomes better known.

2. He is opinionated. He doesn't hesitate to tell you what he doesn't like, something often missing in travel writing.

3. He actually does offer tours, which supposedly embody his style of independent travel, yet in a tour (a bit of a paradox).

4. For someone who writes for a living, he gives away a lot of free information especially on his www.ricksteves.com website.

5. He is expanding awareness of Europe travel (among US television viewers) through his "on-all-the-time" series on PBS, "Travels with Rick Steves".

Best wishes,

Rex
 
Jan 10th, 2002, 05:54 AM
  #5  
Howard
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Rick Steves is a travel writer, hosts a travel related television series in the US, and has a travel company that does tours to Europe. He is fairly popular hre in the U.S. I would say his books are aimed at low to moderate spenders.

Personally speaking, I enjoy his TV shows, find his books ok (they are handy for what they cover, but omit info. on smaller places that are covered in some other guidebook series, and pretty much like his overall travel point of view. You can find out more at his web site: Ricksteves.com
 
Jan 10th, 2002, 05:57 AM
  #6  
dan woodlief
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For a longer response: Rick is probably best known for his tv shows that have shown for years on public tv stations here in the U.S. The Travel Channel used to carry them as well, until it became a hokey Vegas, fun-in-the-sun, ghost hunters dominated, piece of crap... Sorry, I digress. Rick owns a company around Seattle, Washington that sells rail passes, tours, and guidebooks. His guide books are excellent but do tend to concentrate only on his favorite destinations (e.g., Cinque Terre, Gimmelwald), along with the big draws like Rome and Paris. They are good in showing how to get around, use money, and the other travel basics. Although he does sell popular tours, Rick's biggest claim to fame is showing thousands that they can travel on their own successfully. He emphasizes the "backdoor" spots that are less known, such as Gimmelwald. He emphasizes staying in budget hotels and mingling with the locals, although places mentioned in his book have been overrun with Americans due to his writing about them. His persona is hokey but fairly down to earth.
 
Jan 10th, 2002, 05:59 AM
  #7  
elaine
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david
Like almost every other topic on this board, Rick Steves is a matter of personal taste. He is a one-man travel industry, producing books, videos,
a television program seen on public tv in the US, and a travel tour company.
His motto is "Through the Back Door" and
his approach is low-budget and practical. His recommendations for accommodations and restaurants, to my mind, stress low-cost over atmosphere or niceties, but by doing exactly that
he fills a useful niche in travel.
His travel books do have many practical suggestions, but some people find the books a little short on cultural and historical information, and on
aesthetic values. Others think his information is exactly what they are looking for.
 
Jan 10th, 2002, 06:10 AM
  #8  
kavey
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Hi david

You can (if you want) see his show in the UK on Sky Travel if you have it!

Personally I can't stand his shows. Or him. He's probably very genuine but he's just not my idea of a good presenter, and I can't help but find his information very superficial and patronising.

That said, apparently he is very popular in the US as he has encouraged many who would not have otherwise travelled independently to do so.

Each to their own I guess...

Kavey
 
Jan 10th, 2002, 06:50 AM
  #9  
Dina
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Kavey,
I agree, the Rick Steves Europe TV shows seem superficial and patronizing, that's a good way of putting it. No thought-provoking insights, very bland---he presents nothing you wouldn't expect to hear.
My husband insisted on watching all the shows before our (first) trip, and I could hardly stand them. The books occasionally offer somewhat more insightful subjects that I suppose he thought wouldn't go over well on TV.
I wouldn't travel anywhere recommended as an out-of-the-way treat by him, because I've heard those places are now overrun by "Rick Steves Americans."
Still, he does have a lot of practical how-to's for the inexperienced traveller, which gives some people enough confidence to do it. And the Rick Steves store in Edmonds, Washington (near Seattle) has a huge library of travel reference books visitors can read at no charge.
 
Jan 10th, 2002, 06:51 AM
  #10  
John
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While I love his books on budget travel, I have never understood why his tours are some of the more expensive out there!
 
Jan 10th, 2002, 06:57 AM
  #11  
Liz
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John, Rick says in his books that other tours are cheaper because they rely on kick-backs, and packed busses.
 
Jan 10th, 2002, 07:02 AM
  #12  
Philip
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His shows are geared toward people who have never been to Europe before and may be a bit timid about going. His motto is "Europe through the back door" or more simply, it's just like going out your back door.

His shows have been successful in America because they take the fear out of travel and he relates to the common man. The problem with travel shows in America is that they are geared toward rich Yuppies (let's go to Machu Pichu), Rick's show gears itself to a person who wants to travel simply and inexpensively.

I think he has had some great ideas. I always do his audio postcard idea when I go to London.
 
Jan 10th, 2002, 07:26 AM
  #13  
david west
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Well thank you for the info. It may suprise you to know that the man is a complete unknown in the UK, and I would imagine in the rest of Europe.

Whilst I can understand that there is no point in showing British viewers travelogues about our own country I am suprised that his other shows are unseen here apart from a small satellite channel referred to by Kavey (which is basically a moving brochure for holiday companies).

The "Rick Steves phenomenon" sounds similar to the rough guide rush. ie whenever the rough guide points out somehwre quiet, out of the way etc it is instantly innundated by people.

I can see the appeal of getting off the beaten tracks, especially for Americans who seem to be wedded to their tour buses (present company excepted of course)

So now I know.

David
 
Jan 10th, 2002, 07:29 AM
  #14  
Leone
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You shall know him by that inveterate blue-green shirt and rumpled khakis he trots around in, plus that faded day pack. Often he has a tendancy to stick his head out of train windows just prior to tunnels. He's strictly a fast food, house wine type, always trudging up and down some stairs looking at an old place. He makes do on three words of foreign language and a lot of pointing - quite jovial, but gosh, most run when they see his type about. Recently he seems to have rediscovered his family (in the past they seemed to have been isolated in a cheap hotel or dorm style barricks). Rick seems unfamiliar with the private room and bath concept - and evidently spends 22 hours a day on the streets. But he does retire long enough to press his shirt under the pillow. I believe his nightwear includes firmly tied on dessert boots - he's always ready to hit the streets for one other historical oddity. I say get Steve off the streets and into some dusty museum. Some poor bloke trots around after Steve memorializing every move for commercial forays. Like all toys, there ought to be an age warning on his products - like, not suitable for anyone over 14 or earning above minimum wage. Or for anyone who hated camp and cannot eat standing up three times a day. Other than that, what an ambassador (could he be the reason we're having some problems in certain small countries?)!! Ciao, L
 
Jan 10th, 2002, 07:37 AM
  #15  
sera
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Leone: LOL at your post. You've hit the nail square on the head about Mr. Steves. He, like many other american travelers, does not appear to have a self-consious bone in his body, and he should acquire a few.
 
Jan 10th, 2002, 07:39 AM
  #16  
Sheila
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That was fascinating. I was, however, amazed at Rex's response

I saw only humour in the heading. Must be a cultural thing

And Rick Steves may well be one of "the best known travel writers for 25 years." in the US; but I had never heard of him before I started to come here. Not having heard of him in the UK is hardly a criticism. I suspect that if one ran a simlar survey to that suggested by Rex, on Amazon.co.uk he wouldn't even feature as a blip.

However, I won't lecture any more

Best Wishes!
 
Jan 10th, 2002, 07:41 AM
  #17  
Whatsithematter
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I don't believe what I have been reading here. Especially from you who live in other countries. Rick Steves is a sweet man who promotes tourism in your countries. Because of him, you have a lot more money coming in from visitors than you would if he ignored your countries or didn't show them in such a positive light. So what if he is bland and shows people how to travel on a budget? I thought true travelers supported each other and encouraged others to travel. I don't understand this cutthroating of man who never, ever did you any harm.
 
Jan 10th, 2002, 07:51 AM
  #18  
Celia
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Leone, you said it!

The couple of times I've seen his TV show (or as much of it as I could stand before shutting it off), he's said things like "The [fill in world famous site here] doesn't require more than 30 or 40 minutes to see." It makes me wonder why he thinks you went there in the first place.

I think he is aiming toward an audience of people who've had no liberal arts education. That's a big market, certainly, and he seems to have found a lucrative niche. I have well-educated well-traveled friends who won't leave home without his books, but personally, no thanks.
 
Jan 10th, 2002, 08:12 AM
  #19  
Leone
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Seriously, I'm sure Steve is a decent human being, within limits - but lets agree he's a bit mired in the old model of "Europe on $5 a day" - so, no disrespect intended, but you bet your sweet travelogue my critique's not that far off if you view him at an angle. I bet Steve's mom would agree that he needs a haircut, a change of clothes and must keep his head and fingers inside whatever conveyance he's taken over for his next move along the travel track. Of course, Steve is laughing all the way to the bank, and cares not a twit what you or I may say. We've aired a bit and had a few giggles, and his ego and income are in tact! And now the heretofore blissfully uninformed in UK have him imposed all over them too. Try that tea tax again, and we'll send you some Natalie Dupree tapes. Ciao, Leone
 
Jan 10th, 2002, 08:14 AM
  #20  
Laura
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While I prefer the Eyewitness guides, I have also used Rick Steves' books on many occasions. For example, we stayed in a place in Brugge suggested by him, and were very happy with the price and the accommodations, and the innkeeper was extremely friendly and helpful (he even gave us a discount because he saw that we had Rick's book with us).
 

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