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Rick Steve's Podcasts - use for self guided tour??

Rick Steve's Podcasts - use for self guided tour??

Feb 22nd, 2014, 07:28 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2003
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Rick Steve's Podcasts - use for self guided tour??

Has anyone downloaded these and used them for a self guided tour? I see he has quite a few for Italy and was wondering if they are worth the effort to d/l them and if they are really helpful.


DebitNM is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2014, 07:49 PM
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I thought they were good... and humorous. Supplement them with some guide book material and you should be good to go. Tour guide outside the Collesium asked if I wanted a tour. I said, 'No, I already have one.' She replied with a smile,' Rick Steves?'

Others here will poo poo him.

I used all of his Italy podcasts.
joannyc is online now  
Feb 22nd, 2014, 08:07 PM
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We downloaded the Rick Steves tours for Rome, Pompeii and Athens for our visit to those places last summer. We thought they were great--lots of great information and we really enjoyed going at our own pace.
longhorn55 is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2014, 09:08 PM
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We've used some, they are fine. Lighthearted and some preliminary reading is a good idea.
cathies is online now  
Feb 22nd, 2014, 10:45 PM
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We have used them for the forum and Jewish Ghetto in Rome. Both were good but we particularly enjoyed the Ghetto tour.
Caenis is offline  
Feb 22nd, 2014, 11:02 PM
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DD used the Paris guide last summer and thought it was great.
MichelleY is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2014, 02:54 AM
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It's not going to take any effort to download the podcasts and will only take a few minutes of time so why not do it. My experience with RS is that he omits quite a bit of information so supplement the podcasts with a guide book(s).
adrienne is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2014, 03:13 AM
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Rick Steve's isn't so hot on art (I watch his shows on PBS) but he is good on walks and itineraries. That's why you see so many tourist following each other around holding his books. If you follow his directions, you will see The Sites. And have plenty of company. That said, we saw some very interesting areas in Venice while walking with some friends who are big RS fans.

I suppose my addition to this question is how you [and other posters] use or would use a podcast on the street. Do you use an earphone? Do you stop on the sidewalk to consult your smartphone? Do you have concerns about a phone grab? Or do you review it in your room at night along with other guidebooks?
Ackislander is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2014, 04:02 AM
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We used ours in the Cistine Chapel( no talking there anyway so guided tours are out)and it worked well as you are seated along the wall.
snowgirls is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2014, 04:08 AM
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A better link for Rick Steves audio tours - and everything else - is his own website. It has all the tours for download, plus maps. In fact he recently redesigned his web site and it looks like he's put up all his TV shows ( and podcasts and audio guides). I hated his old site but this new one looks really good. http://www.ricksteves.com/watch-read-listen

Personally I hate having an earphone or even listening to a handheld audio guide thing. I also don't like lugging books. So, while it is more work, I download, copy, etc. various tours and essentially make my own which I can then bring with me to refer to while I'm touring someplace. Plus, since I've already spent quite a bit of time putting the thing together I know a lot of the history and what I'm seeing. I'll re-read the stuff the night before or while I'm eating breakfast before I go to a site. More work but I think I get a lot more out of it. Rick Steves site has the scripts of his tv shows on line too so you can copy them.
isabel is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2014, 05:05 AM
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Thank you all so much! What caught my eye in particular was the Jewish Ghetto tour in Rome - so good to know you liked it, Caenis.

I was mostly thinking about using them for walking tours. I too wondered about the phone grab issue. Will have to think on how this can be done safely.

As always, Fodorites come through!

DebitNM is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2014, 05:51 AM
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His website used to lead you to Itunes for the downloads. I don't know if that is still the case. On ITunes, he also had maps to go with the walking tours so print that out if you are going to use them. They are free so you've got nothing to lose if you are just doing some walks.

I d/l the Pompeii one a few years ago (I had already been there several times). It was a bit out of date as areas had closed or streets were blocked.

You can get a signal splitter if two people want to share, but one person tends to forget their hooked and walks off half the time. I used an IPod touch to walk around with, but you could also d/l to an IPad (there are pictures on the d/l).

Most sites have their own audio guides you can rent (usually 5-7€). The Colosseum does, but their tour (about 5€) is cheaper than their audio guide. I think these days, they are trending towards video guides instead of audio guides at many of the sites.

The Rome Tourist Board used to have some walking itineraries.
kybourbon is online now  
Feb 23rd, 2014, 06:09 AM
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<< I too wondered about the phone grab issue. Will have to think on how this can be done safely. >>

You could buy an inexpensive MP3 player for the podcasts. You'd need one that you can rewind to hear a section again so something like an ipod nano or shuffle would not work as you can only rewind an entire song or track. I just took a look on Amazon; the prices range from $35 on up. Better to loose an inexpensive player than your smart phone.
adrienne is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2014, 06:29 AM
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They are excellent. And we always use his walking tours for those locations without a podcast. If you are going to any of the Tuscan hill towns look at his guide book for them. You'll see things other books don't cover and they're fun too.
HappyTrvlr is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2014, 08:36 AM
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There's not much risk of phone grab unless you have an iPhone. You probably have an old phone hanging around the house that's capable of playing mp3 files.

I once downloaded Rick Steves' mp3 tour of the Colosseum for my young nieces (ages 11, 13 and 23). I listened to it before giving it to them, and thought it was pretty well done, although a bit superficial.
bvlenci is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2014, 11:16 AM
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I was iphone-less when my youngest and I went to Venice in August 2009, but my daughter had just gotten one for her start of college the next week.

We had already decided to test out relying only on WiFI hotspots with the iphone in airplane mode that trip. We figured, "Hey, let's test out this freebie from Rick Steves*."

We printed out all his maps, downloaded the podcasts to my daughter's iphone, used a splitter (a freebie from some airline's cheap earbud packet), and we happily walked tethered.

She held the phone, I held the map.

OK--it WAS awkward at first, but it got easier and easier.

This same youngest is the family finance expert. She said, "You know, I bet we'll save 30 Euros on audioguides this trip if we do the same thing."

Ergo, we "split" our museum audioguides the same way.

The non-financial payback was that we were perfectly synced in our touring, and we could agree on the spot to skip ahead or go back with any museum audiotour tour without any problem.
AlessandraZoe is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2014, 01:12 PM
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I dug up and old HTC Incredible 2 phone and am going to use that for the downloads! Will print maps at home and off we go!
DebitNM is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2014, 07:37 PM
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Hmm... in my experience, Rick Steves's guide books cover few of the things to be seen in any particular destination and cover them with little detail. In that sense, I find them much less helpful than almost any other guidebook I've ever used -- and I typically use about 6 per destination. So my inclination would be to spend your time and money on sources that provide more comprehensive coverage. YMMV.
kja is offline  
Feb 24th, 2014, 08:12 AM
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We also used these on an iPod Touch, via Rick Steves' app, on our trip two years ago. We each used one earbud. We used them more for the highlights of important sites, as opposed to walking tours. Particularly memorable was sitting side-by-side along the side wall of the Sistine Chapel with our necks craned, and another time sheltering from the brutal Roman summer heat and sun, by a shady tree in the Forum. In neither case were we inclined to wander off from the tether, so it worked fine for us. We own a splitter that would have allowed us each to use our own pair of earbuds, but we didn't bother with it. Sharing is nice.

As for the content, I found it to be intelligent and sufficiently in-depth for our tastes. A bonus of using it on the app (as opposed to just playing back the podcasts on any mp3 player) was that the app offered the capacity to double the playback speed. At that speed it was still very easy to take in the information, and it was beneficial to have the option to offset Rick's rather deliberate pace of delivery.

For free -- why not download and give it a whirl?
HellieF is offline  

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