Rick Steves Europe 101 & Mona Winks

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Aug 27th, 2003, 05:57 AM
  #1
RLA
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Rick Steves Europe 101 & Mona Winks

Do you recommend for pre-trip reading for a first-timer to Europe or is there a better resource? I have read the Amazon reviews of the Europe 101 6th Edtn. I get the impression it is a great other than the historical discussion which is alledgedly laden with errors and omissions. I don't want anything too deep, but do want accuracy. Who has time to learn it wrong? Like so many others, I can put aside his views on socialism and his "Social Enlightenment" addendum, and soak up the other stuff which I understand is highly credible. Any feedback?
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Aug 27th, 2003, 06:03 AM
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RLA, I've heard nothing but great reviews from anyone I know who has used both of these references. I can personally recommmend the Rick Steve's guides for Florence & Venice, as well. We recently used both on our trip and were very pleased.

If there are inaccuracies in the two books you are asking about, go to ricksteves.com and check the guidebook updates he provides there. He might have additional info.
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Aug 27th, 2003, 06:05 AM
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Mona Winks is a sometimes irreverent, but useful, guide to many of the leading museums and historic areas. It definitely makes your visits to these sites much easier to navigate.
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Aug 27th, 2003, 06:06 AM
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I think I have read both years ago (obviously, earlier editions). I found them readable and helpful, but I'm not a serious historian or art enthusiast. When reading anything ABOUT Steves, keep in mind that there is a large number of people who are obsessed with denigrating him. So take the criticisms with a grain of salt (though odds are his info has its errors from time to time). He is what he is, which is mostly helpful for first time, independent travelers (though I still consult his books on repeat journeys).
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Aug 27th, 2003, 06:09 AM
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Hi RLA

I must admit that I have never read a Rick Steves guidebook. I don't really like his television programs.
But there are SO many great guide books out there!
Before we go anywhere I get a certain group of books and just read them from front to back, then take a couple with me.
My list would be
Eyewitness, Insiders Guides, Frommers Irreverant guides and Access..which I take with me.
When there, I try to get Time Out also.
I feel the need to read various books to try to get my own impressions rather than just take one persons away from it.
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Aug 27th, 2003, 06:17 AM
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Re: Mona Winks
Check your local public library. It is the type of travel reference many have and basic info remains the same; you can update times, items not available since they are on loan, special exhibits etc on Museum web site. We have used it to ensure that we are not missing a "special masterpiece" because we did not know the Museum had that item, and to pinpoint items we want to see (based on our private interests/ likes, etc.) using current web site info to add to or subtract from the list. Ideally one would be able to spend days or weeks seeing everything in a great museum, but in reality that's just not possible for most of us. Using Mona Winks, which I have found on a par with similiar "list"s also helps to avoid art overload/ burnout.
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Aug 27th, 2003, 06:36 AM
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Revis, you can't read or rely on only one book if you are seriously thinking about making a maiden voyage to Europe! Every guide book has a different slant. I planned my Italy trip with no less than five books, and each gave me a different perspective. Start asking some well-travelled friends for the loan of their guides, use the library, and the internet.

When you have decided if and when and where you are going, purchase some books of your own so you can start marking them up & scribbling notes in them.
 
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Aug 27th, 2003, 06:47 AM
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rla-
I swear by RS's books for his walking tours and love Mona Winks for his no-nonsense tours of the major European museums. I've never uses the Europe 101 book but have found that many people, including those on this site, don't like his books so take criticism with a grain of salt. Once you get past his political agenda, his books are very informative with the pretentiousness that many other have.
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Aug 27th, 2003, 08:21 AM
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"Mona Winks" is good if you're only generally interested in art.

My problems with the Steves other guides are what is not included and his approach that "Rick knows best." For example, if you want to travel from City A to City B, he'll tell you the way he does it and not any alternatives. (I don't think his books yet mention the train from Milan to Malpensa, only the bus.) You're left to look in other guides for additional information. His guides also focus on certain areas to the exclusion of so many other interesting destinations. For example, his obsession with Cinque Terre might make you think there are no other charming towns on hills overlooking the sea. And the maps are just awful.

Having said the above, however, I do admit that I check the guides (at the library, I don't buy them) for any obscure tips regarding the bigger towns/cities.
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Aug 27th, 2003, 08:30 AM
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I fnd that the advice he gives in Europe Through the Back Door is great--it gets you in the mindest for Europe, how not to be an ugly American, the cheapest ways to do things, etc. His maps are truly awful, and he can get out of hand--he talks about how to sleep outside! But as an intro to where you are going and how they do things, ilke him a lot.

Frommer's and Lonely planet guides tend to have the most practical info on logistics, for me. I tend to use them the most.
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Aug 27th, 2003, 08:43 AM
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DLN is right about not relying on one book. I think I used about 6 for our upcoming trip. You'll find some are great for hotel options, as I mentioned I like Steve's walking tours and museum tours but his maps are terrible and he's not the best for hotels or restaurants where Fodors is great for that. Go to the library and check out a punch, pick and choose the best from each, copy it and toss them as you finish with a destination.
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Aug 27th, 2003, 09:26 AM
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The Eyewitness Guides have historical summaries in the front of their books, along with timelines, photos/images, etc...perhaps you'd like that better.
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Aug 27th, 2003, 01:06 PM
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RLA
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I was focused on these particular ones for art, history, and architecture education and timelines to put it all in perspective. As for other Rick Steve's guides, I deduced long ago the avoid his maps and hotel recommendations (too sparse for me), otherwise he has some good info to offer. I actually try to go in the bookstore and choose one or two guide books for the other aspects of travel, but always came out with four. I had rather cut to the chase on all types if only there were one best one. I don't want to know everything there is to know, but a reasonable amount to be armed and educated enough to validate and enjoy my visit. I get tired of too many choices in everything we comsume, but it's better than not having enough choices. I do get inspired by what I see, and instantly want to know SO much about too much! I have to watch myself as to not ask too many questions of the tour guide in a group. (My teens always cringe and ask why am I the only one in a group that asks questions. You know teens. Oh, well, I only hope my curiosity of what the world offers - is contagious.) Thanks to all for the replies. The Eyewitness and City Secrets sound like other choice guide to look into. Of course, I have Fodor's and Frommer's.
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Aug 27th, 2003, 01:11 PM
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RLA
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Oh, and DLN: On an earlier thread we conversed about coffee table books. My Italy one has a beautiful full page photo of The Pieta. I remember it being one of you and many others' favorites. Sadly, I didn't notice it before, and didn't know a thing about it until I read everyone's comments and explanations about it, then went back. I am learning and teaching my family as I learn so whenever we go, they will either be totally annoyed or interested. Hopefully the latter!
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Aug 27th, 2003, 05:08 PM
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I really like Rick Steves' guidebooks. He has a sense of humor (whereas most guidebooks are dry) and makes Europe a fun experience. I used Mona Winks for the Louvre (tore out the pages) as I mostly wanted to see the highlights (can always go back for more in-depth viewing). Have used his walks in London & Paris which were excellent. Steves' Europe thru the Backdoor is half "how to" and half various countries. Good overview. Besides books, I find the Internet to be invaluable for learning about various countries/cities. My favorite other books are Fodor's and Access.
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