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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, 08:14 AM
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I understand people have different opinions about authors, TV shows, and tour guides, but I'm surprised to see so many negative comments about the Americans who take his advice. I guess the only goal of the uncultured, uneducated American who travels to Europe is to ruin these out of the way places.
Jan 10th, 2002, 08:15 AM
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As I said above I have greatly enjoyed reading Rick's books - they read more like a travelogue than a guide book. They make a great place to start and he is fairly honest on his descriptions of most sites.

Liz, I still don't understand why his tours are 3 times the cost of other tours! Yes, they may not be a bus packed with 60 people, but I have yet to see the value in spending what he charges.

BUT, All in All, I am a big Rick fan. Between his books, the Eyewitness Guides, and the stuff I find out from all you wonderful folk, what more do I need?

Jan 10th, 2002, 08:30 AM
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I'm not a tour-type person, but this link explains his tours
On our trip last year, we felt the hotel and food recommendations from his guidebooks were more to OUR liking than those we got from other sources. We are NOT fast food people, just rather frugal.
Jan 10th, 2002, 09:23 AM
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To clarify, I have commented only on my opinions on the man, and his show.

I have made no aspersions whatsoever about the people who use his books/ view his shows/ take his tours.

I don't feel anything about them one way or another.

The world would be very boring if we all liked the same books, shows, countries, hobbies, people...
Jan 10th, 2002, 09:34 AM
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Hi Kavey, glad to see you back. David, I'm not surprised you haven't heard of him, he's really a PBS (American public TV) and North American bookstore phenomenon.

One thing he does really well is give tips on designing 'overview' style itineraries, plus very good advice on how to use public transportation for any trip. Bear in mind that the passenger train is almost dead in North America, so using trains in Europe can be a rather unusual experience for many North Americans. Mistakes that wouldn't even occur to you we manage to make quite easily. : - )
Jan 10th, 2002, 09:53 AM
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Rex - David is showing no ignorance at all. This geezer Rick isn't known in the UK at all. Remember this is a WORLDWIDE web, not an Americans only forum. Stop being so opinionated, and up your own passage.
Jan 10th, 2002, 09:56 AM
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Lately, I have been finding an awful lot of snobbery on this board. Maybe it was alwys there, and I was too naive to "get" it.
I think Rick Steves has done wonders for European travel from this country. Dave, his PBS show is one of the highest rated shows on PBS. I am not going to be an apologist for his style, but as I always say to each his own.
BTW, Leone: he has been wearing the requisite "black jeans" lately.
But really let us not be sooooooo pretentious, shall we? Your pomposity is showing. Whatisthematter: you seem to hit the proverbial nail on the head......IMVHO. Judy
Jan 10th, 2002, 09:57 AM
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Sue, How true! Many American cities have no trains, or subway systems either. I can read a map, but lacking experience, plus poor sense of direction and language difficulties, I would've jumped onto the wrong subway car, train, or bus, many times, (and proceeded in the wrong direction once off!) if not for my husband. Maybe he was smart to watch Rick Steves.
Jan 10th, 2002, 10:08 AM
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My biggest frustration with Steves is that he claims to do things 'off the beaten path', yet, he's incredibly ON the path. Pretty much only the major sites in the major cities, with only a few minor exceptions. How can you write a guide to Italy without even including Sicily?

And his approach to do one day here, two days here, is completely unbelievable! How can you appreciate the beauty of the place, it's people, it's culture by taking a few snapshots in 2 days in Florence, then 2 days in Italy? Crazy! That pretty much wraps up the Rick Steves groupie.

If he's motivating people to get out & see the world, fantastic! Yet, does he need to be so condescending & superficial while he's supposedly enlightening them? And as for him being a sweet man, sorry, that's just his tv persona. Met him at a Seattle travel show. Cold & arrogant.

Jan 10th, 2002, 10:23 AM
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I always laugh at the "educated" factor of society that seem to have an inbred tendancy to dismiss anybody without a high college education ('tis called snobbery I believe). Funny how, (with my mere 2 year Civil Engineering Tech background) I have become a self-taught semi-professional guitar player who is respected for his abilities in my town, a self-taught photographer who now sells his work privately, travelled Europe solo because I wanted to, not because my parents paid me to do it to get some "real" culture in my blood, travelled the Southern US to trace the roots of blues and rock 'n' roll (oops, not exactly music in the higher sense, sorry), read many books on art history and have an extensive library collection in my blue collar basement. I hate Opera, love jazz, have had fun at Disneyland and has a love affair with Paris and it's style. And, yes, I do watch Rick Steves on occasion and like what he's doint most of the time. All without the insane expense of putting myself through a dreadful six year Masters of whatever education. I spend time with draft beer guzzlers who have never read a "real" book in their lives (they aren't interested) and wear ballcaps and Budweiser Tshirts, highly educated people who are amongst my best friends, I even have an uncle who basically lives on the streets of Vancouver with whom I occasionally visit with. All of them are essentially the same, just different backgrounds and interests. My parents can be considered hicks as they are not educated folks by any means, just good, common people who did not influence me to pursue higher things but make a good enough living to not rely on anybody.

Sorry about this rant, I just tire of the same old snobbery crap that those of supposed higer status and education carry on thier shoulders.
If you like Rick Steves, great, he probably has a lot to offer in your line of interests. And, institutional education or not, travel and having an open mind is the best and cheapest education there is.

Happy travels!
Jan 10th, 2002, 10:32 AM
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Lulu, I don't believe you. Anyone can say anything here, that doesn't make it true. My friends went on one of his tours with him and they said he was open,respectful of people, friendly to everyone, and down to earth, just like you see on television.
Jan 10th, 2002, 10:32 AM
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I also have seen his shows on public tv in NYC. To me the annoying thing is he prides himself on not trying to learn a language other than English. This certainly seems contrary to what people say on this forum!
Jan 10th, 2002, 10:36 AM
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All the others (some kindly - some rude) have explained who/what Rick Steeves is/does.

My biggest complaint is his fame and popularity has ruined his usefulness. Many Americans think he writes the "Bible" on touring (others swear by Fodors or Fromers in the same way). The problem is that since literally millions of Americans carry his guide books many places he recommends are totally overrun by Americans. Now I like "us" - but when I am in a B&B in cornwall or a hotel in Paris I don't want every accent I hear at breakfast to be from Iowa or NY.

I personally know of one wonderful Inn/B&B put out of business by a mention in a Steeves book. (I'll omit some details so the actual location can't be identified) There was a great small place in a truly unique location - one not duplicatable due to a very special worls famous site literally out the back door. 5 rooms when the owner's kids were away at school and 3 when they were home. It was also a working farm - their primary business. Well - one mention in a Rick Steeves book (without their permission) and all hell broke loose. Some days they got over 250 phone calls! It was unceasing. They had to close because they couldn't cope.

He recommends all kinds of small places and they are never the same again.

He also makes suggestions which then become "THE thing to do" by every American. Like - take the train to Bath and pick up a rental car there?! First Bath is a VERY difficult place to drive, 2nd getting to Bath from either LHR or LGW is not easy when you are toting luggage, and 3rd a rental car from Bath will be more expensive than one rented at the airport and the will have to return the car to Bath and make their way back to the airport.

Another crazy Idea he had was for US drivers in the UK place an "inexperienced driver" placard (just like the red learner ones but green instead). Now that will really avoid road rage from other drivers - NOT.
Jan 10th, 2002, 10:37 AM
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Judy, Judy, Judy (if only Cary could hear me!!) ... whatever is showing, oh please let it not be my pomposity. Gosh, I didn't know Rick changed to black jeans ... but don't expect to wow me until he exchanges that Route 66 era shirt and boots for something italian. Maybe gets a slim leather backpack. And has at least a two-course meal sitting down where there's no acordian playing and no one dancing around in shorts. And sausage links not festooned from the ceiling. Of course, if Steve traveled the way most of us do, he wouldn't be the same ole Steve adored by the public TV crowd. Tell him to have a coupe de champagne before each meal, and I'll give his act a second look. Until then, he may take the low road, I'll take the high one. gt; Ciao, Leone
Jan 10th, 2002, 10:48 AM
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First, there may be some BritSpeak/AmeriTalk confusion here: "geezer" doesn’t always mean a (grouchy) old man in BritSpeak.

I think it would be wrong to underestimate Steves’ influence on US-based travel to Europe. He wasn’t the first to suggest budget-based, independent, off-the-beaten-path touring, but he certainly has been influential with whole generations of travelers. The Cinque Terre towns ought to give him the keys to the cities; I’ll wager 80% of the inquiries on this board about those villages are ultimately based on Steves’ influence.

He may be bland, even geeky, but he’s never cynical (unlike Bill Bryson IMO, or, frankly, some of us on this board). He’s not highbrow, but he pumps enough culture and history into his books and TV shows to allow travelers to sort through their options and decide when to go deep; again, more a door-opener than a Michelin Guide.

One of the unintended consequences of TV shows is that they last forever. Our local (Seattle) TV outlet for Stevesmania runs his old shows every %&#@ night. Some are now 10 years old or so, so the quaint undiscovered hotel is now full of Steves viewers jostling for a piece of the quaint.

His advice may frequently be obvious, but that doesn’t make it wrong. Learning how to say thank you in Bulgaria, or how to order a beer in Brussels or ride the bus in Bologna may not be rocket science, but it’s better than staying on the tour bus or never going in the first place. I’d like to see him get edgy or even political once in awhile, but if I were in his shoes/boots/wellies (no, scratch that, too bulky) I probably would keep using the shtick that works.

The City of Edmonds, Washington probably should also give him an award as a leading producer of municipal revenue.
Jan 10th, 2002, 10:56 AM
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Leone, You've got Rick nailed. Ever since he started the TV shows, I've been DYING to get my hands on him - for a makeover! Can't you see him in Armani? Nice merino wool turtleneck, get rid of those god-awful shoes and get him a pair of loafers and no socks. And that hair? Does he share a barber with Bill Gates? Perhaps we can take up a collection for a makeover, but then he'd have to retitle his books "Rick Steves goes to the opening of the spring collections in Milan on $ 3500 a day".
Jan 10th, 2002, 10:59 AM
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Rick Steves is no geezer, he's adored by the folks in my 92-year old mother's retirement home. I don't much like his books nor his show too much, although I don't have anything against him except that he presents himself as the guru of budget, independent travel and then sells expensive tour groups and has a lot of followers who won't do anything independently, they will only go and stay where he does. I also think he is for those who don't want to see a lot or decide for themselves what to do as he makes remarks like Avignon can "be done" in 1/2 day. He makes claims about tour groups that I think are self-serving as to explain why his are so expensive, and not true as his tour groups aren't that small in comparison to many others that are a lot cheaper. I just think he's making a lot of money. As for the independence, you should see his itineraries, they require you to be with the group a lot. I think maybe he had some good ideas of places to see but now they've become overrun by his disciples, and his info is not very comprehensive (like on Paris, I think his guidebook only mentions a couple neighborhoods to stay in). He's not very good with languages, either, even though he's traveled for many years. But, I think he's gotten his money honestly, I just don't think he's really for the independent traveler except in comparison to booking an entire tour group (well, again, his own tour groups aren't independent).
Jan 10th, 2002, 11:05 AM
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Shelia, I saw humor in the heading too ("geezer" isn't pejorative, right?)

Good comments, Rex.

Leone, very hilarious! I find that snobs often have a wicked sense of humor.

I'm not crazy about his PBS TV shows, but I enjoy his writing in his books and, as others have pointed out so well, I think he's done a great service in encouraging people to travel independently and to seek out places that may be a little less-known (although an irony, of course, is that some of these lesser-known places then become crowded with Steves' aficionados.)

As Dina pointed out, his store in Edmonds has a huge library of travel books that people can read at no charge, and every time I've gone there I've been impressed with the helpfulness and friendliness of the people who work for him. I have never been given any kind of hard-sell -- much less even a pitch -- for the tours.

I don't always agree with his recommendations. He loves the Rue Cler area in Paris, for example, and, while I think it's nice, it certainly isn't in my top choices for locations in which to stay. But I'm indebted to him for turning me on to Cinqueterre (and, especially, Vernazza) which I visited in 1987, and also for turning me on to one of my favorite hotels in Europe, a small funky family-run place in Nice.
Jan 10th, 2002, 11:06 AM
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Nina, Nina - ease up, puleeze - you've got me on the floor laughing, literally, and they're sending for my meds. Ah, I can see you know your Steve - yes, yes, the Bill Gates cut!!! Fantastic. I generally watch him when I've nothing to do or I trying to find ways to reduce my travel budget, possibly by stopping altogether. So, do keep on, but don't expect a call to be on his next book jacket. Take care, and CIAO. L
Jan 10th, 2002, 11:11 AM
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I can understand the range of opinons on Rick After all, that is what makes the "World go round" and he isn't everyone's idea of a travel expert. We used him extensively in our early years. He did convince us to travel independetly. Our first trip to Europe was with Rick's "Great Britain in 22 Days". We had 24 days, so we were able to add a couple of places or dally a bit here and there. We took our teenage daughters and we were looking for budget travel. It worked out very well. We did research other travel guides to be somewhat thorough in our information (Fodor's and Frommer's as I recall). We stayed in the places Rick reccomended and were generally satisfied. Oh, there was the frumpy B&B in the Cotswalds that we initially chalked up to "character" until the next morning when our breakfast was cooked and served by a frowzy, brightly dyed redhead with a cigarette dangling from the corner of her mouth. The English aren't all prim and proper as some posters on this thread would lead you to believe. We moved out even though we had payed for another night and moved into a very nice, small Hotel at Stow-in-the-Wold. We often remember that experience and laugh a good deal when we think about it.
We did learn two very valuable lessons from Rick in those early years. First: in order to learn about the people in the country traveled, stay close to the people. That usually means three star hotels and even some especially nice two star hotels. Secondly: Independent travel with the freedom to roam, hang out and explore without restraint is the only way (for us) to travel. We are pretty well traveled now and can pretty much stay wherever we want. We still subscribe to Rick's "close to the people, independent travel". Oh, we do stay at the occaisional luxurious spot when it is special (a chateaux in Normandy, a castle in Wales, a fantastic hotel on a fjord in Norway), but those are exceptions.
For the record (without chest thumping), we are both Collage Graduates with Graduate work in our respective fields; Humanities for my Wife and Political Science/Public Administration for me. We have had fine, rewarding careers. Our three Daughters are Collage Graduates and succesful in their chosen fields. We still think Rick's Guides are worthwhile and enjoy his very direct opinions about what to see and what to ignore. We will usually read about three other guides before a trip, but we wind up bringing Rick's. We think he provides a very valuable service to the unitiated traveler and is probably more responsible for encouraging people to travel (especially to Europe) than any other American Travel Writer.

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