Rick Steves - Ugly American Again!

Old Sep 24th, 2014, 09:27 AM
  #121  
 
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Any suggestions Immini? Cyber cat videos? Selfies that ruin that world's most beautiful spots?
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Old Sep 24th, 2014, 09:27 AM
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dwdvagamundo, I personally agree, although tours have their place also. DH and I took 2 when we first started and they helped us develop our own approach.

I object to blanket statements and name calling. And, NewbE, 'lazy and uneducated' sounds like bashing to me. 'Rube' isn't very nice either.

By the way, has anyone found (and reported) guide book errors? I found 2 typos and a map error in various Eyewitness books and received thanks from them.
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Old Sep 24th, 2014, 09:50 AM
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Basically guide books are obsolete as soon as they are edited. Restaurants, shops, and hotels close or change hands, museums close for renovations, hours of sights change, bus and train lines may changed, etc. And cannot fault any guide book for that but you can advise the guides of the changes.

Some of the most startling changes can be a change in government where things can be dramatically different, some of which may effect tourists, others not.

Towns don't move (though name change occur). Even though histories can be rewritten and languages and cultures can evolve, basically the past remains the constant. And that to me, is the major criterion for criticizing guide book, getting the constants wrong. The other characteristics are means of comparison.
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Old Sep 24th, 2014, 10:32 AM
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So what are the constants? Not a snarky question.
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Old Sep 24th, 2014, 10:47 AM
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The constants are history, culture, traditions, customs, cuisine, architecture, art, geography, language, and I am sure I am omitting other things. And as noted these are also subject to change but it is more unlikely.
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Old Sep 24th, 2014, 11:16 AM
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bvlenci, thanks, I found your post very useful and have made notes for future reference. Glad to know Blue Guides are still great!
(Bonus points for use of "prolix" in a sentence!)
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Old Sep 24th, 2014, 11:19 AM
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bvlenci, thanks, I found your post very useful and have made notes for future reference. Glad to know Blue Guides are still great!
(Bonus points for use of "prolix" in a sentence!)
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Old Sep 24th, 2014, 11:42 AM
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The most egregious error I've ever found was in the Lonely Planet Guide for Ireland, about ten years ago. They gave a totally erroneous location for what was then (ten years ago) the Galway International Airport (now defunct). We spent several days in a B&B that was very near this fictitious airport, where we planned to turn in our rental car at the end of our driving holiday. When we got to the place where the airport was supposed to be, we found only a little private airstrip belonging to a tour company that took people on flights to the Aran Islands. Luckily we weren't planning to take a flight, because the real Galway Airport was almost an hour's drive from there, on the opposite side of Galway.

The Rough Guide for Spain was so full of errors that we just stopped using it. I had a feeling the author had done all his research from an armchair in England. We wasted the better part of a day on a recommended "scenic drive along the River Tormes" near Salamanca. This was 13 years ago, when there were no travel forums to set us straight.
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Old Sep 24th, 2014, 11:44 AM
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Personally I never use *any* guidebook to school me on the history of my destination. Once the trip and its particulars are booked, I spend the time waiting to leave seeking robust reading lists and read assorted authors on the periods that interest me most. If there's time I'll also read prominent fiction writers from my destination country.
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Old Sep 24th, 2014, 02:09 PM
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A guide book won't be enough to learn thoroughly the history of Rome, but if you want to know the history of the Baths of Diocletian, the Blue Guide to Rome will tell you much more than any history book.

My copy of the Blue Guide to Rome, which is a bit old, has 26 densely printed pages on the general history of Rome, as well as the detailed histories of nearly every featured site. I think if you were to digest that, you'd have an excellent grasp of the history of the city, much more than most visitors have.
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Old Sep 24th, 2014, 02:46 PM
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Blue Guides IMO have too much information - the Michelin Green Guides are my favorite - succinct and nice drawings and maps.
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Old Sep 24th, 2014, 07:42 PM
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So let me make sure I'm understanding the arguments here:
- It is <b>NOT</b> OK to criticize RS or his guidebooks -- that constitutes "bashing."
- It is <b>OK</b> to criticize those who criticize RS or his guidebooks -- that somehow has nothing to do with "bashing," however defined.

?!?!?
What am I missing here?

I'm glad to participate in a forum that is so clearly open to honest debate.
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Old Sep 24th, 2014, 07:46 PM
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Not missing anything, kja. I think you have a firm grasp of the dynamic here.
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Old Sep 24th, 2014, 07:48 PM
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KJA

You are not missing anything. Facts and logic are often scarce commodities here.
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Old Sep 25th, 2014, 04:14 AM
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I am a devotee of guidebooks and will consult a number when planning a trip--actually buying several and taking them along with me. I discovered the Michelin Green guides on my first visit to Paris over 50 years ago and still find them very useful. While living in Europe for several years long before the internet era, I found the Michelin Red guides essential for seeking out hotels and restaurants (but I haven't used them in years). I also used the Fodors Guides back when you could actually travel in Europe for $5 a day (and still do use them extensively.)

That said, I do think that Rick Steves' guides have their place, and I will cite two examples. When taking a Baltic cruise with numerous one-day port stops his Scandinavia guide was very valuable for practical information on choosing sights to see and on getting around (without the very expensive ship's tours). I also found his Istanbul guide excellent for its walking tours, on on two visits their did all of them. This is the one guide which he did not write, but entrusted to two very knowledgeable local writers. Istanbul.

I certainly wouldn't rely only on a Rick Steves guide, but they do have their uses.
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Old Sep 25th, 2014, 05:38 AM
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"It is NOT OK to criticize RS or his guidebooks -- that constitutes "bashing."
- It is OK to criticize those who criticize RS or his guidebooks"

RS books are not above criticism (what books are). His just gets a disproportionate amount and often the criticism misses the very purpose of his books (focused, somewhat biased, cost conscious travel).

I still consult his books, with others, when traveling to Europe.
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Old Sep 25th, 2014, 05:58 AM
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kja on Sep 24, 14 at 11:42pm
So let me make sure I'm understanding the arguments here:
- It is NOT OK to criticize RS or his guidebooks -- that constitutes "bashing."
- It is OK to criticize those who criticize RS or his guidebooks -- that somehow has nothing to do with "bashing," however defined.

?!?!?
What am I missing here?>>>>>>>>>>>>

<i>Speaking only for myself, kja, I will repeat my post upthread: "I object to blanket statements and name calling. And, NewbE, 'lazy and uneducated' sounds like bashing to me. 'Rube' isn't very nice either."

Showing specific instances of errors is something else altogether. Rick Steves is not for everyone, but neither is Fodor's. I'm just asking for constructive criticism.
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Old Sep 25th, 2014, 06:52 AM
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kja: <i>So let me make sure I'm understanding the arguments here:
- It is NOT OK to criticize RS or his guidebooks -- that constitutes "bashing."
- It is OK to criticize those who criticize RS or his guidebooks -- that somehow has nothing to do with "bashing," however defined.</i>

Is it OK to suggest someone doesn't spend as much time in cities as you do because he uses Rick Steves guidebooks (so therefore doesn't get the same in-depth understanding of those places as you do from "good" guidebooks)? Is that "bashing?"
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Old Sep 25th, 2014, 08:18 AM
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<i>kja: So let me make sure I'm understanding the arguments here:
- It is NOT OK to criticize RS or his guidebooks -- that constitutes "bashing."
- It is OK to criticize those who criticize RS or his guidebooks -- that somehow has nothing to do with "bashing," however defined.</i>

Try this take:
- It is <b>OK</b> to criticize Rick Steeves, his guidebooks, or any other guidebook. This constitutes an "opinion".
- It is <b>NOT OK</b> to mock others for liking something you don't. This constitutes "snobbery".
- It is <b>OK</b> to engage in civil debate. This constitutes "civility".
- It is <b>NOT OK</b> to use insults, ad hominem attacks, and other such tactics to berate someone you disagree with. This constitutes an "impossibility" on the Internet
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Old Sep 25th, 2014, 09:11 AM
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Bvlenci and PalenQ--when we first started travelling, I'd carry Blue Guides around everywhere. For me, they are like cameras--I'd spend my time reading the Blue Guide rather than look at where I was. We still use them, but only to do background on certain places--e.g. what is where at the Louvre and Versailles on upcoming trip. We keep all the other travel guides we have ever bought; even though info on hotels, restaurants and opening/closing times is probably obsolete, they are good to tell you what you might be interested in seeing and where it is. Today, through the wonders of the internet and iPhones, etc., we can get current opening times, restaurants, hotels, etc. and for the last two, in a much greater variety than any travel guide could provide.

We are going primarily with the Green Guide this year--first time taking it--ours is also fairly current so hopefully most of the restaurants will still be there.

Like amyb, I select places to go based on my interests, which are primarily history, architecture, art, archaeology and the like, so by the time I decide to go somewhere, I've got a pretty good idea of what I'm going to see. But I still need a guidebook to tell me where it is and what in each particular, cathedral, museum, etc., to look at. One of the best features any guidebook are the suggested walks in cities so that we don't have to waste time trying to figure out the best way to see what we want.
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