Rick Steve ??

Jun 12th, 2007, 09:11 PM
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Rick Steve ??

Who is this guy?.I have seen him refered to on here, is he an expert on Europe and if so how did he become one?
blightyboy is offline  
Jun 12th, 2007, 09:30 PM
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By reading Arthur Frommer's books and traveling repeatedly to Europe, and then writing about it.
WillTravel is offline  
Jun 12th, 2007, 09:46 PM
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His name is Rick Steves, and he is a well-known travel writer. He produces books and videos, and he runs a fantastic travel store in Edmonds, Washington, just north of Seattle. It has a roomful of comfy chairs and is lined with every travel guide imaginable, not just Europe and definitely not just Rick Steves's books, there for free browsing.

He also sells some travel gear, including very well-made, reasonably priced bags in his preferred style -- 21" carryon with back straps but no wheels, as well as more usual wheeled bags and every kind of day pack. We have two, and they are highly recommended. (He doesn't like wheels because they take up as much as a third of the interior of a bag, add weight, and are useless on cobbles or setts).

People like to make fun of him for his dweebish demeanor, but he's enormously successful, to the point where some of the places he has been consistently recommending for decades are now overrun with Americans clutching his most famous book, "Europe Through the Back Door", or its many successors.

His website, www.ricksteves.com, is a wealth of information in addition to shopping for bags and stuff. You can buy rail passes there, and there's a message board.

Rick is also a vocal supporter of marijuana legalization.

Like I said, he's kind of a dweeb, with his pleated khakis and mangled Italian, but he's probably enticed more people to actually GO to Europe than anyone else alive, including Arthur Frommer. I think he's pretty OK.
fnarf999 is offline  
Jun 13th, 2007, 02:36 AM
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what's a dweeb?
twoflower is offline  
Jun 13th, 2007, 02:38 AM
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Dork, nerd.
Jake1 is offline  
Jun 13th, 2007, 02:58 AM
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Steves' shows are broadcast frequently on PBS stations and the videos are often available at libraries if you want to check out the pleated khakis.

He has definitely helped to show many, many people how they can travel on their own in Europe without spending a fortune. His guide books have a lot of good practical information. I often try to read them before a trip and pick up copies at library sales when I see them, but I prefer other more comprehensive guides (Michelin, DK Eyewitness) for actual sightseeing.
Vttraveler is online now  
Jun 13th, 2007, 03:00 AM
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We've watched his travel shows on public television for more than a decade. He's been traveling around Europe since the 1970's. Although some people don't care for him or his books, I think he has a passion for travel and has been very successful as a result.

We ran into him several times on our recent trip to the Dordogne and he was very personable.

I've been in the travel industry for 20 years and envy Rick for the great job he's created for himself. I have often wished I could trade places with him. After seeing his show on behind the scenes, it's a much tougher job than one would think. He puts in a lot of hours and late nights.
CRAZY4TRAVEL is offline  
Jun 13th, 2007, 03:11 AM
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"Expert on Europe" is a pretty all-encompassing term. Someone can be an expert on art history, or the history of the Reformation, etc. etc.; Mr. Steves is not an historian. His is not a Michelin Green guide, for example.

He is less a Europe expert than a time planner. He prioritizes a little differently from other guides, since his advice on what to see is governed by how much one could conceivably pack into the typical two to three week vacation. Although this means his suggested itineraries are sometimes overly ambitious, the typical reader does not find it difficult to cut and paste to suit, or to adjust the pace to their liking. Although his guides lack historical detail, and even on occasion historical accuracy, they are both detailed and quite accurate in terms of the practical logistics of the suggested itinerary. Public transportation connections, the location of washrooms in a museum, where and how to buy tickets, etc. etc. He also provides DIY walking tours of cities and museums. Whether these provide an 'expert' guide to the charms of the place in question is a matter of opinion, but the directions are unquestionably easy to follow. If you are looking for a 'crib sheet' on a visit to a country, he is a good place to start.
Sue_xx_yy is offline  
Jun 13th, 2007, 04:13 PM
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Sue_xx_yy explained him better than I have ever seen and w/o the slams/kudos that invariably pop up.

A travel time manager is a good way to think of it.

An aside, he doesn't do/enjoy the UK as much as many other places. I really think he only publishes UK guides because he wants to tap that market. There have been several inaccuracies in previous editions of his books w/ UK info. Don't know if they have been corrected - I do enjoy his TV programs but haven't read any of the books in maybe 6-7+ years . . . . . .
janisj is online now  
Jun 13th, 2007, 04:34 PM
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Perhaps now that he is in his third decade of advising folks on how they _can_ plan a trip to Europe, without taking a guided tour (ironic, since he now makes a sizable income from his company's offerings of guided tours)...

... Rick has indeed become an advisor on time management.

But his career was founded on instilling confidence into would-be first-time (and "first-time-to-this-new-place") Europe travelers, that...

... you CAN do this; you can read a map, you can go places you never heard of, you can visit countries whose language you do not speak...

...and you don't have to confine yourself to the bigger cities, with the most expensive hotels that are most prepared to receive one-language-only visitors. In fact, I think he helped to establish the doctrine that the more familiar the places, and the more expensive your choices (of lodging, restaurants, etc) - - the more you insulate yourself from encounters with people outside the travel/tourism/hospitality industry.

He urges you to get bread at the same little bakeries where the local residents get their bread, and then strike up a conversation with the baker... to go for lunch where _he_ would go to lunch... to seek out entertainment where he would take _his_ family.

He's not a saint, nor a magician; he does have some expertise, energy and self-confidence. And his heart lies in the same general direction as many people who love participating on this forum.

Best wishes,

rex is offline  
Jun 13th, 2007, 04:39 PM
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Several good explantions here---fnan999, sue_xx_yy and Rex.

And janisj, I agree that he doesn't cover the UK all that well, certainly not with the love and energy he bestows on Italy, and Switzerland.
enzian is offline  
Jun 13th, 2007, 04:48 PM
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Rex said it all, and I agree completely.
Sue4 is offline  
Jun 13th, 2007, 05:14 PM
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Thank you all for the compliments. Money is also gratefully received - please send cash.

Rex, by no means do I think that a time planner is somehow the lesser part of being a travel guide. Giving clear, unintimidating directions only looks simple - in fact to do so well is an art form. Ironically the UK book was the first of his that I bought, and it was the attention to detail on the transportation, the top-down approach to maps, and the succinct, uncluttered layout of each chapter, that gave the confidence of which you speak. (If Scott had had him on board for that expedition lo so many years ago, the man and his team might have made it back from the Antarctic.)

Ironically, Steves was mentioned in another guide's book that I had bought almost 10 years prior to the UK guide, but at the time I passed over the passage almost without notice. The book was Roger Rapoport's " 2 to 22 Days in California" (Santa Fe: John Muir Publications, copyright by the author Roger Rapoport 1988.)

"Planning a trip can be a challenge. Blending the various interests of your party, scheduling around museums that operate on varying schedules, finding the most scenic route, and finding a centrally located hotel are some of the issues crucial to any traveler. That's why I'm so enthusiastic about the 2 to 22 days approach, created by Rick Steves, a Seattle travel writer and tour leader. The first guide was based on the itinerary he taught in classes for prospective European visitors. Rick frequently had plane tickets, Eurail passes, even cash lying around the office. No one ever touched those valuables. But one thing did frequently disappear from the office: his 2 to 22 days itinerary....The success of his European itinerary planners has led to similar guides covering other destinations around the world, including California...."

Point being, even almost 20 years ago, he was recognized by other travel writers for his approach to time planning. Notably nothing was said about his finding unique places or being uniquely gifted in helping people discover the culture per se, and that's just as well, since those are far more subjective things to evaluate.
Sue_xx_yy is offline  
Jun 13th, 2007, 06:21 PM
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I like Rick's approach to individual museums, like the Louvre, which give a step by step, turn by turn plan to see the highlights in a reasonable amount of time. He includes hand drawn maps with enough details that I can follow the trail with ease. I found that my first Louvre exposure via Rick left me feeling like I had managed a pretty big order, had succeeded where many others I watched that day had been overwhelmed by the scope without a plan and ultimately, helped me to feel confident to try it out on my own on my subsequent visits to Paris. It gave me "a guide" but didn't require that I keep up with the group to get the benefits. I didn't take Rick along to the Pompidou (Modern Art) on my first visit and I left frustrated, having not found some of the works I most wanted to see and literally travelling in circles looking for the ladies room. His guides work well for travellers like me who want to accomplish particular visits and still have time to sit back, smell the coffee and soak up the local flavor.

I agree that for historical accuracy and background with depth, it pays to read some other guides. Bring Rick's maps/directions copied onto individual papers tucked into your preferred "guide with footnotes."
graceland is offline  
Jun 13th, 2007, 06:26 PM
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He inspired me and my husband to take our two kids (8 and 13 at the time) to Europe in 1992 for a month. Based on the info he provided in his books and PBS show, we planned everything on our own, rented a car and drove through France and Italy. We had the time of our lives. We've since taken several more trips and still rely on his books to provide basic info.
caroltis is offline  
Jun 13th, 2007, 07:31 PM
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<< Rex, by no means do I think that a time planner is somehow the lesser part of being a travel guide. >>

I didn't mean to imply that your assessment was wrong.

It's true he did give very useful time-management info, from the time I first learned that he existed (at least 15 years ago, maybe more). And I certainly don't put down the value of realistic and practical time management info; in fact, it's one of the things that I think I do well also - - to plan to leave point A and travel to point B and accomplish C or D or E on a given day, you have to think realistically about...

"is this a get-up early morning?" (these can and should be used occasionally on a trip, but hopefully not too often, and not too much on consecutive days)...

"does point A have anything attractive to experience for those who choose to get up early anyhow?" (example: in any town that has a weekly farm market - - as opposed to the more permanent daily kind - - it can be a real pleasure to get out for a sunrise walk, watch it get assembled and come to life, if you're a "crack of dawn" kind of person)

assuming it's not a "need to leave early" morning, when _is_ that train you need to catch? or when do you need to start driving, and where will that put you for lunch time?

the logistics of hauling and/or storing luggage, if you are coming into a city (by public transportation, for example), want to see it for a half day, and then plan to move on to another destination for that evening... it is VERY easy to over-estimate the "time overhead" of dealing with luggage, when "passing through" some place, if you don't have a car for storage (and even that raises the safety issue). Curiously, on his TV shows, Rick glosses right over this - - he makes it look like you can travel all over Europe with a backpack barely big enough to hold a half gallon of milk!

I think that his time management expertise applies chiefly to seeing things once you are settled into a city (the night before) and not leaving there... until at least tomorrow.
rex is offline  
Jun 13th, 2007, 07:50 PM
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I have a love-hate relationship with Rick Steves! I love his travel books and have used them many times. I have a Rick Steves 21" roller suitcase and love it. It is very well made and has served me well. I have been to Edmonds to his store many times and even have used his travel advisor service to help us figure our route in Ireland. But here's what I hate. I have been to Rick Steves travel forums a few times. On one occasion as he was speaking he went off topic and onto the war and the President. Let me say, I have NEVER been a fan of the President and if anything I lean to the left. But his rantings were horrible. It was very uncomfortable in that auditorium. That was about 3-4 years ago, I can't even imagine what he would say now. We just shook that off and decided to try again. The next forum we went to we happen to see him in the hall before the lecture. He was very rude. Somebody thought they could enter the hall threw this door and he didn't want them to. It was an honest mistake by the person. Rick Steves just lit into them. We just stood there with gaping mouths. Maybe it was because nobody made a big deal over him? I have been to about five of his travel forums and at two I witnessed his rude and erratic behavior. I guess, I like his advise and his travel books and products but just maybe not him himself.
hester is offline  
Jun 13th, 2007, 08:16 PM
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I had a similar experience to Hester's at a talk and book signing of Steves'. It was not long after his European Christmas book came out and I went with an old friend because we had made a Christmas trip to Europe nearly 20 years ago. We thought it would be interesting to hear what had changed or remained the same. I didn't care to hear his political comments and he complained about noise from other events at this travel show. My friend bought me his Christmas book and we waited to get it autographed. I greeted him in German and he responded with absolute silence. Not a smile, nothing. I let my friend do the talking from that point and couldn't wait to get away.

I thought he might have been having a bad day or not feeling well at the time. But perhaps he's getting a little crotchety as he gets older and lives out of a suitcase much of the time.

What really ticks me off about him is his telling the world about my favorite hotels in Paris' 7th. Last time we stayed at the Londres Eiffel it was full of one of his tour groups.

I was given a copy of one of his city books for a trip I'm taking this years and it's really helpful. It's just too bad he can't project the same affable personality at a personal appearance as he does on screen.
Scootoir is offline  
Jun 13th, 2007, 10:03 PM
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Great thank you all.I thought that he might be an expert who was /is good but has become so full of himself that he is now almost up his own !!!
It appears that some of you think I am right
blightyboy is offline  
Jun 14th, 2007, 12:16 AM
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"But his career was founded on instilling confidence into would-be first-time (and "first-time-to-this-new-place") Europe travelers, that..."

Don't agree. In his early guides, there wasn't anything I hadn't also seen in the Let's Go guides of that time. In fact, I think the Let's Go guides were much more complete (and still do, even if I'm no longer their target demographic). What he did do was repackage that material for an older, nonstudent audience.
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