Rick Steves - Ugly American Again!

Old Sep 29th, 2014, 04:16 AM
  #181  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 10,425
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
"Rick Steves lost me when I got off the train in Vernazza in Cinque Terre and I counted 26 folks with his book in their hands quoting him."

Dutyfree, you do realize that this sort of attitude is what caused Yogi Berra to quip, "nobody goes there anymore. It's too crowded."

What distresses you - that people consult guidebooks in public? What if they consult the electronic version on their phones and spoke an Italian phrase when in your earshot? Would you be happier if appearances, howsoever deceiving, were managed for you?

*********

"It's like, his one random encounter leading to his brekkie that day, will soon be an icon to thousands of people. They will all want to go that stand-up street cafe. From then on, half the people in that cafe' will be holding the book..."

dfourh, some idiot named Gustaf something or other designed a tower. By some measures, it's not really that great a tower: difficult to maintain; almost no interior space; poorly thought out elevator system that is easily overwhelmed. But no doubt, says Sue with a wink, it's become an icon for so many because Rick features it in his Paris book (you'll find lots of people there, I promise you, who are holding a guidebook. Many of those guidebook-toting hordes were there before Rick was even born, which just goes to show how truly a nuisance he is.. his evil influence extended from before the womb, let alone from beyond the grave... )

I gotta ask though, what distresses you about this? Either one likes the tower or one doesn't, and the mere fact that one might have heard about it through someone else surely doesn't mean one can't pass an independent opinion on it once one actually arrives and experiences it for oneself. Ditto for a cafe. BTW, if the cafe is in the guidebook, it's probably been chosen as being convenient to a walking tour featured in the book or one of the recommended hotels. I have nothing against convenience in and of itself, especially when I've walked many km that day already.

But even by avoiding Rick Steves' recommended places, I doubt people are as successful as they think they are in finding places 'frequented by locals.' France has about 80 million people and a lot of them are non-Parisians who occasionally or frequently visit the capital. You'll hear them speaking their language in a cafe, but that doesn't mean that they are local - they are tourists or people passing through on business. But even if they are local, there's no way to establish whether they are in that cafe for the first time or frequent it as a regular, short of actually taking a poll. Point being, avoiding a guidebook recommended spot doesn't mean the food will necessarily be better.

*********

This is not to say I don't dislike many aspects of the guidebooks. Mercifully Mr. Steves has in recent years toned down his 'money simply puts a gulf between one and the average local' - thank you, Mr. Steves, I have no plans to visit the northern banlieue public housing estates of Paris, no matter how authentic those are. I get that one can travel on many kinds of budgets, but as for money creating a gulf, in that case stop telling us to wear moneybelts, because there are plenty of people in Europe more than happy to help bring us, er, closer to the common people ... )
Sue_xx_yy is offline  
Old Sep 29th, 2014, 04:23 AM
  #182  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 10,425
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
By the way, I misspelt Gustave and worse, forgot to light up the irony button when making my comments about his signature creation.

I wonder how soon it will be before someone devoid of a sense of irony and humour skims my post and squawks with glee....
Sue_xx_yy is offline  
Old Sep 29th, 2014, 04:28 AM
  #183  
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 8,046
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
It's true that many of the people taken for locals in Paris are French tourists in from the provinces, who may not know the Parisian café scene any better than you do. I can assure you that the same is true in Italy, where I recognize the accents and can tell you that there are not many Romans in the cafés and restaurants in the tourist area.
bvlenci is offline  
Old Sep 29th, 2014, 07:04 AM
  #184  
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 1,322
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
For all this talk about RS being an "ugly American," I'm surprised that no one has pointed out that in the original book that coined the term, the main character was in fact ugly in appearance but was the hero in trying to protect the people of an unnamed Southeast Asia country from blundering bureaucrats.
happytourist is offline  
Old Sep 29th, 2014, 08:06 AM
  #185  
kja
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 23,193
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
@ Sue_xx_yy - Of course. That's why I said "might," not "would." Just one possibility.
kja is offline  
Old Sep 29th, 2014, 09:45 AM
  #186  
 
Join Date: May 2014
Posts: 151
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I just came back from a trip that included Italy and I'm sorry to say, I've made the conclusion that what people say about American travelers is accurate. I'm Canadian and I have been to America and there are lovely people there, but on this trip there was such a big contrast between the Italians (more specifically in Milan) and the rude, loud, and ugly American tourists that I encountered in Venice and Cinque Terre and for some reason many of these seemed to mention Rick Steves.

I can tolerate certain behaviours from tourists as I think not many of them live in big cities and don't know how to navigate them properly and then get defensive on trains, in crowds, etc. But to be shoved when carrying a heavy backpack by this 40+ huge American man when I'm a 24 year old girl just so he could see a train schedule and being pushed out of line by an American woman who lacked patience, plus the way some of these people spoke was appalling. I'm just letting off some steam here but I am not used to these types of encounters at all despite living in a huge city (but part of me really is starting to think it's because I live in Canada).
LR220 is offline  
Old Sep 29th, 2014, 10:43 AM
  #187  
 
Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 6,164
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I keep reading on these threads how little RS knows about art. Could you please provide some examples of how he's wrong? I don't 'have a PhD in Art History, but I have more than a passing knowledge, and I've yet to see something glaring inaccurate in RS's books, art-wise.

Paying more $$ on a tour/book doesn't guarantee you accuracy. My husband forwarded me a co-workers Amsterdam itinerary for my comments. After recuperating from my shock at what was being charged for a 4 hour private tour of Amsterdam, I read the itinerary. The 4 hours included a walking tour, a lunch at a brown bar and a visit to the Rijks.

The description said something like....visit the Rijksmuseum, which has the largest collections of Van Gogh paintings in the world.

If someone wanted the largest Van Gogh collection, that would be in the nearby Van Gogh Museum. And yes, I know the VG Museum is affiliated with the Rijks, but the itinerary only mentioned the Rijks. I highly doubt it included both museums, b/c fitting in the VG with the Rijks, and a walking tour, and lunch, in 4 hours is pretty brisk.

With the high cost of that tour, which emphasized having a private, local guide, that seemed a pretty glaring error.
PhillyFan is offline  
Old Sep 29th, 2014, 11:03 AM
  #188  
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
Posts: 1,710
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Die thread, die.

Poor thing, you've been flogged to death.

It would be a mercy killing.
Dickie_Gr is offline  
Old Sep 29th, 2014, 12:49 PM
  #189  
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 6,476
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I have heard that Karl Baedeker also wore blue shirts and burned some German Ganja.
IMDonehere is offline  
Old Sep 29th, 2014, 01:01 PM
  #190  
 
Join Date: Nov 2013
Posts: 252
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I like both fodors and Rick Steves guide books. I really like Rick Steves guides for big cities like Paris or Florence. He's too opinionated on what is good or not in the countryside for me.
sanderskn is offline  
Old Sep 29th, 2014, 01:02 PM
  #191  
 
Join Date: Nov 2013
Posts: 252
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I also must say that I have found people to be very kind on the Rick Steves travel forum and to be pretty snobby on this one. Lot of nice responses on this one, but more often than not people are ruder here
sanderskn is offline  
Old Sep 29th, 2014, 01:16 PM
  #192  
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 8,046
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I suppose you didn't notice any nice, quiet, polite Americans, or maybe you assumed they were Canadians.

I once spent three hours on a train several seats in front of a loud Canadian (from Toronto, as he announced). An Italian woman seated next to him was trying to correct some of his mistaken impressions, and he just kept spouting more ignorance. When she told him that the Italian Republic was founded after World War II, he said, "Really? I thought Italy was a country for longer than that." His funniest comment regarded the French language, which he told her was widely spoken in Canada and which he had studied in high school. He said, "I just didn't get it. What's with this gender thing? I mean, why are some words masculine and others feminine? It doesn't make any sense." Everybody in the carriage could hear every word he said, and he never shut up for the whole trip. I hope they didn't think he was typical of the entire country of Canada.

I've also met some Canadians who assure me they get treated better because they have a little maple leaf patch sewed onto their jackets or their back packs. Believe me, most Italians don't know what they are, or else think they're marijuana leaves.

There's a Canadian woman in our town, and everybody calls her "the American".
bvlenci is offline  
Old Sep 29th, 2014, 01:57 PM
  #193  
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 1,294
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I'm visiting Dijon right now. Delightful city. Everywhere breezy, easy, casual, enjoyable. Very distinctive old town area with fine architecture and loads of charm. Have only heard French on the streets and in restaurants. Truly relaxing, genuine, nurturing. It must be what people think Paris will be like, but Paris is choked with bustle and congestion, and the well-trodden areas are chock-a-block, and the tourists are as thick as flies. I hope a certain individual who will not be named in this post because-we're-all-flogging-a-dead-horse-aren't-we doesn't find it!
dfourh is offline  
Old Sep 29th, 2014, 05:00 PM
  #194  
 
Join Date: May 2014
Posts: 151
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I apologize that you were offended, bvlenci, but I still stand by my original comments. If anything, your comment about Italians not being able to recognize the maple leaf or the Canadian flag is an insult to them, and one that's untrue IME as many Italians I spoke to knew significantly more about Canada than the average American. I don't think that one person's behaviour would damage the reputations of Canadians, especially since the rest of the world knows us to be polite people. However, American tourists have quite a negative reputation (I've even seen Ugly American threads here) and my experience, especially with Americans in Venice and Cinque Terre who held Rick Steves guidebooks, revealed to me why that reputation exists. And while they dressed badly, complained about portions, compared everything to the States, made embarrassingly uneducated comments in museums, and were loud, all that would be excusable if they weren't also very disrespectful towards other people around them. There was a huge sense of entitlement coming from those people, that they're here for their vacation and they deserve five star treatment even in crowds, lines, on the street, on the metro, etc.
LR220 is offline  
Old Sep 29th, 2014, 07:46 PM
  #195  
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 4,412
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
From sanctimonious Yankee-bashing Canadians, libera nos Domine.
laverendrye is offline  
Old Sep 30th, 2014, 07:42 AM
  #196  
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 17,801
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Well, shoot, I've seen Americans like that IN America. It can't be news at this point in time that entitled jerks roam the earth. As an American, I'm not going to develop a complex about it, though. And even I don't think Rick Steves is to blame.
NewbE is offline  
Old Sep 30th, 2014, 07:50 AM
  #197  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 27,617
Likes: 0
Received 1 Like on 1 Post
Err, in the interests of accuracy, dutyfree. The last time I looked at RS's England guide, he recommended STARTING a tour of England in Bath, not substituting it for London. He figured you could recover from jet-lag there, and then rent a car if you were driving, instead of driving right after a flight. Then you dropped the car in York or Cambridge and took the train into London for the last part of the trip.
thursdaysd is offline  
Old Sep 30th, 2014, 07:58 AM
  #198  
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 2,093
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Bvlenci - When I worked at City Hall in Ottawa we had many requests from Americans for "that little maple leaf patch" to take with them on their travels abroad.
Micheline is offline  
Old Sep 30th, 2014, 09:40 AM
  #199  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 78,320
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I despise any Yank who wears a Canuck flag on their backpack or luggage and thus deny their own nationality - are Canucks better than us - well in terms of military interventions yes but to deny your own American nationality - shame on you!

People abroad have always seem to separate the actions of governments from that of the common person.

And Canucks may not want to have Yanks masquerading as Canucks, bringing shame to them of course.
PalenQ is offline  
Old Sep 30th, 2014, 09:54 AM
  #200  
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 17,801
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
People collect patches, don't they? How do you know they wanted the patches in order to masquerade as Canadians? I always thought that idea was more a joke than something people actually did.
NewbE is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Manage Preferences Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Your Privacy Choices -