Rick Steves - Ugly American Again!

Old Sep 23rd, 2014, 07:27 PM
  #101  
 
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The writer and his publisher choose what goes into a guide book. If they broach a subject they should know about the subject.

As far as culture and history is concerned, do you travel just to shop or see how clean the bathroom may be? Do you go to a ruin without a point of reference?

We often shock people in the countries that we visit that we know a bit about their past history, the current situation, historical fiction and their art. My wife always learns a few phrases, and usually more. We put some time and effort to make our trip more rewarding. But travel guides should cover some basics.

We don't care about the Joneses, in fact, we don't talk about our travels unless someone asks or we know the others have traveled as well.

I remember we just come back from Central and Eastern Europe and I was telling someone where we had been, because they asked. And another chimed in, "Don't you just ever go to a resort, get drunk, and get laid?"
_______________

Many people are satisfied with pop culture because among other things it convenient, an easily shared experience, and non-threatening. Does that describe Steves or what?
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Old Sep 24th, 2014, 04:24 AM
  #102  
 
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I'd re-word you IMD:

Many people are satisfied with the most widely-know sites when they only have 2 weeks and not enough money to afford a tour.

Steves isn't for everyone but the bashing is uncalled for.
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Old Sep 24th, 2014, 05:01 AM
  #103  
 
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Love him or hate him, IMO his guide books are the best, if you want a book.
They have the most detailed information and are very helpful, to me, when planning a trip.
They are not however, the only source I use, because he doesn't cover plenty of places we've travelled to.
Even in his books he recommends other travel guides.
But I agree, that there is a lot of Rick jealousy out there.
If you choose to use his books, take what you want and leave the rest.
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Old Sep 24th, 2014, 05:06 AM
  #104  
 
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Like him or not, he fills a niche. Not everyone knows how to travel the first time or two (or three) on their own or has access to people who can help them. I cut my teeth on European travel using his books 20+ years ago, and have traveled on my own to Europe over 30 times since, Russia on my own, Africa twice on my own. The only tour I have ever taken was to China. I fully credit those first few trips, yes, using his books, for giving me the confidence and travel know-how to do it and keep doing it. To this day, if I'm going somewhere in Europe for the first time, I still get his guides first for the lowdown on logistics. His books aren't cluttered with the stuff I only tear out of a Fodors or Frommers guide before taking the book with me.
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Old Sep 24th, 2014, 05:22 AM
  #105  
 
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I don't think Samantha was a travel guide. Hers was just a showcase for expensive locations and hotels, IMHO. Not that it wasn't fun to watch, but not a really comparable to RS.

Rudy did a better job with some details, and I liked his kind of dry wit.

RS hands down gave you information you could use. His info has an admitted bias, but it was practical. And he didn't pretend to stay in 5 star locations. (Pretend being the operative word. Looking at you Samantha!) Why people feel compelled to jump on RS probably says more about them than RS.
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Old Sep 24th, 2014, 05:45 AM
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IM: >>Many people are satisfied with pop culture because among other things it convenient, an easily shared experience, and non-threatening. Does that describe Steves or what?<<

Not really, in my limited experience with RS, let's say it did. I'm not understanding why that's a bad thing.
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Old Sep 24th, 2014, 06:26 AM
  #107  
 
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Claiming jealousy is a middle school attribution but worthy of a defense of Rick Steves.

I guess my expectations for our trips are very different. We have gone on many two week trips and in many cases that will be the only time we will visit that country. But I want a fuller and richer understanding of that place and we put the effort before we go to that end. Rick Steve's is the teacher who gives the easy A. Just like pop culture.
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Old Sep 24th, 2014, 06:37 AM
  #108  
 
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"My wife always learns a few phrases, and usually more. We put some time and effort to make our trip more rewarding."

You seem to think you're the only one who does this--I've done this for every trip we've ever taken and I'd guess that the majority of regular posters on this site do as well.
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Old Sep 24th, 2014, 07:09 AM
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IM: You're really coming off as a terrible snobby traveler. And you've set up a false either/or situation: Someone is either a sophisticated traveler or a RS devotee.

I'm actually uncomfortable defending RS because I know so little about him or his work, but your approach seems overwrought.
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Old Sep 24th, 2014, 07:16 AM
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What is a snob? Someone who has a different opinion than you?

I have not bashed the other guides that appeal to the mainstream traveler. He is simply a lazy and uneducated writer who has found success through the wonders of marketing and PBS.
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Old Sep 24th, 2014, 07:19 AM
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TDudette"
Many people are satisfied with the most widely-know sites when they only have 2 weeks and not enough money to afford a tour." I'd rephrase that last to say "and enough travel experience to know not to book a tour."
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Old Sep 24th, 2014, 07:23 AM
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<IM: You're really coming off as a terrible snobby traveler. And you've set up a false either/or situation: Someone is either a sophisticated traveler or a RS devotee.>

I don't see where IMD has done that; as for snobbery, well, it's in the eye of the beholder. Some would call it confidence.

Some of you are just argumentative: when faced with a differing opinion, of RS, for example, you say those who don't like him are "bashing" him. We just don't like him! You do! So what?! If it must be that we are snobs and you are rubes, so be it for the purposes of this board, but I don't see the world that way.
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Old Sep 24th, 2014, 07:28 AM
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I love Rick Steves guidebooks and always use them as a primary source when planning a new trip to Europe. I sometimes don't agree with his advice, but I find it practical and direct. I still don't understand why so many elitists seem to hate him.
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Old Sep 24th, 2014, 07:32 AM
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Elitists, now. Oy. Amazing.
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Old Sep 24th, 2014, 07:35 AM
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>>What is a snob? Someone who has a different opinion than you?<<

No, anyone who looks down on others whose travel interests are clean bathrooms and shopping -- in other words, someone whose interests are different from yours.

>>Some would call it confidence.<<

By illustrating that others' interests are low-brow? Let's just say we have different definitions.
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Old Sep 24th, 2014, 07:47 AM
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"He is simply a lazy and uneducated writer who has found success through the wonders of marketing and PBS."

I'll grant you he may be a bit lazy, recycling jokes and info year in and year out. That said, I would find it odd if he tried to re-write a lot of material when many of the subjects themselves haven't changed in centuries.

I have no idea how you can conclude he is uneducated, though.

-----------

"I sometimes don't agree with his advice, but I find it practical and direct. I still don't understand why so many elitists seem to hate him."

Exactly.
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Old Sep 24th, 2014, 07:50 AM
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The Blue Guide is excellent, especially if you're interested in history, culture, and the hidden gems. It's maybe a bit prolix to read while you're standing in front of a painting. I take it with me on a trip and keep it on the bedside table. I read it when planning the next day's outing and for more information about things I've run across on this day's outing.

For actually carrying about on the street, I usually take the Michelin Green Guide, which has lots of information in a more consise format. It also suggests interesting neighborhood walks in the vicinity of famous sights.

Neither of these guides is much good for hotels and restaurants. I don't do much research on restaurants and often I just use the internet for hotels. I would think that Fodor's and Frommer's would be good for hotels. For restaurants, I think it's more valuable to learn something about the cuisine of the place you're visiting than to seek out specific restaurants. You can usually find a decent restaurant wherever you find yourself when hunger strikes if you know what you should be looking for. Loading your itinerary up with reservations for tours and restaurants strikes me as too much like being at work.

I really like the Routard guides, a French series, as a good all-round (but not exhaustive) guide book, focusing on the budget side for hotels and restaurants. The last time we were in Paris, it pointed me to a great little budget hotel in the 5th that was well within my price range and cheaper than most of the others I had found online. We also had great luck with this guide in Spain. The hotels are maybe a little bit too much on the backpacker line, but he divides them into three price levels, and the highest would overlap some of the more popular guides. I don't know if this series is available in English. I buy it in Italian translation here.
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Old Sep 24th, 2014, 08:29 AM
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The Rick Steves debate will go on forever. A thread that debated the relative merits of various guidebooks and other ways to research trips would be a great idea. But bashing one guidebook author, and everyone who likes him, while trying to make oneself appear sophisticated, worldly or just better than everyone else only serves to make that person look foolish. Unfortunately some people join this forum for a few months and post incessantly trashing anyone who doesn't agree with their views. Hopefully he'll be done soon.
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Old Sep 24th, 2014, 08:38 AM
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I have never heard of the Routard guides. I goggled it but as far as I can tell they are not issued in English.
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Old Sep 24th, 2014, 08:59 AM
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Ah Adu and Pal, it is SO time you both moved on and found someone new to scorn. Your RS
obsession is indeed overwrought.

I use and prefer Cadogan Guides and Routard In France but overall I use the net and the
library to peruse all the guides...even, on occasion, the dreaded RS.
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