Rick Steves - Ugly American Again!

Old Sep 25th, 2014, 09:14 AM
  #141  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 78,320
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
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.>

I never knew Michelin green guides covered any restaurants or is this new - mine are years old. Michelin Red Guides are only for hotels and restaurants.
PalenQ is offline  
Old Sep 25th, 2014, 09:22 AM
  #142  
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 2,445
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
TDudette--we took two tours on our first two trips to Europe, so I'm with you on that. I think you'd have to have been a pretty confident traveler to launch out on your own overseas even ten years ago. Today, with the internet and mobile devices, it's much easier.

To me, the most objectionable feature of tours is that they spend more of our precious vacation time at the "historic cameo factory" than at the site where the tour is supposed to be going. That and the second (at best) rate accommodations and meals.
dwdvagamundo is offline  
Old Sep 25th, 2014, 09:34 AM
  #143  
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 6,476
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Not bad G. Hopper, particularly your last line, but if you include the line about snobbery then you must include the following:

It is NOT OK to be childishly defensive about your position that is called insecurity.
IMDonehere is offline  
Old Sep 25th, 2014, 09:38 AM
  #144  
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 6,476
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
It is odd that we never liked Michelin Red. Maybe it is because they did not cover the more inexpensive restaurants and clean, safe, but reasonably priced hotels we prefer. But we always loo to see if a Michelin Green is available for the areas we are about to visit.
IMDonehere is offline  
Old Sep 25th, 2014, 11:31 AM
  #145  
kja
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 23,248
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
In response to Andrew’s comment to me: I have expressed my personal opinion that RS guidebooks do not provide sufficiently comprehensive coverage of sites to meet my needs. I have also questioned the impact that relying solely on one of the RS guidebooks would have on a traveler, but I have not intentionally “bashed” users of RS guidebooks. Let me give a very specific example: If I had relied solely on the RS guidebook on Croatia when planning my time in Zagreb, I would probably have spent at most a day there – the time it would take to see the listed sites. In fact, I spent about 2.5 very busy days there, and many of my favorite things in Zagreb – including the National Archive, Mirogoj, and the Strossmayer – aren’t mentioned at all in the RS guidebook. (They are covered in other guidebooks.) I don’t think it unreasonable to suggest that travelers might not see things that they don’t realize exist, nor do I think it unreasonable to question whether travelers might spend longer in various locations if they had more comprehensive information about the opportunities those locations afford. Maybe they would, maybe they wouldn’t. It is a question, not a criticism.
kja is offline  
Old Sep 25th, 2014, 11:44 AM
  #146  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 78,320
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
You can't throw the baby out with the bath water is R Steves case - his books are what they are - the most popular guides now on the market - in part because they were not your traditional guidebooks and had things in them that mainstream guides would consider un cool - like eating left over food from the breakfast table and the whole Back Door concept was cool.

And though I don't especially cotton to Rick's chip on his shoulder persona I think if his guides get folks to get brave enough to go alone all the better. He obviously is doing something right.

I think folks try to scrutinize him and his books too much - like the attacks above on his lack of artistic knowledge - again he is writing for the common bloke who does not want a Blue Guide blow by blow of every little thing in a certain museum, cathedral, etc.
PalenQ is offline  
Old Sep 25th, 2014, 12:02 PM
  #147  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 21,369
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
kja: <i>In response to Andrew’s comment to me: I have expressed my personal opinion that RS guidebooks do not provide sufficiently comprehensive coverage of sites to meet my needs. I have also questioned the impact that relying solely on one of the RS guidebooks would have on a traveler</i>

I certainly don't rely ONLY on Rick Steves - otherwise, I would never have never visited Bologna, Parma, Wroclaw, Luxembourg, Leuven, Graz, Škofja Loka, and a number of other places I enjoyed. None of these places are covered in his books. I'm currently looking at a future trip to Romania and Bulgaria - not covered by Rick Steves at all. I also use second or third sources for the places he does cover.

One thing I love about Rick Steves's books is that he often speaks in glowing terms about places I have absolutely no interest in, so I then know to avoid them, because I know from past experience that a lot of the things he seems to love (e.g. inside of churches) I have little interest in. In other guidebooks, it's difficult to tell whether the authors loved or hated a place or what their biases might be.

But I often recommend his books to travelers (e.g. Slovenia/Croatia) because I have found them so incredibly helpful, yet you seem quick to step in and contradict me. Instead, why not simply recommend your own books? I don't contradict you on your guidebook choices, do I?

You suggested that the reason I spend less time than you do in some of these places we've both visited is that I rely only on Rick Steves books, the implication being not that you and I have different interests and travel styles but that maybe if only I studied different books like the ones you use - more sophisticated than Rick Steves perhaps? - I'd spend as much time as you do in these places. Yes, I found the suggestion a bit offensive. I see it not too different from the "bashing" you mention.

As for Zagreb: a whole day there was more than enough for me. I didn't even cover everything in Rick's Croatia/Slovenia book. I simply found the city uninteresting. I went to one of the small museums he recommended (the peasant art - great little museum) but not the others he mentioned (I'm not really a "museum person."). The fact that I didn't care to spend 2.5 days in Zagreb had nothing to do with what kind of travel book I read; it simply means I have different interests than you have. Is that really so difficult to understand?
Andrew is offline  
Old Sep 25th, 2014, 12:14 PM
  #148  
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 6,476
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I think folks try to scrutinize him and his books too much - like the attacks above on his lack of artistic knowledge - again he is writing for the common bloke who does not want a Blue Guide blow by blow of every little thing in a certain museum, cathedral, etc.
_________
It doesn't matter for whom you are writing, it should be accurate. Reverse snobbery is not an excuse.

In any event, writing for the public is like e-mails, you just never know who will wind up reading them.
IMDonehere is offline  
Old Sep 25th, 2014, 12:58 PM
  #149  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 78,320
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
It doesn't matter for whom you are writing, it should be accurate. Reverse snobbery is not an excuse.>

perhaps you are holding Rick to a higher standard than other guidebooks - in a past lifetime I researched and wrote detailed articles on virtually every tourist place in Europe - for a defunct travel rag - and that was before the Internets and easy accessibility to anything you want to know.

So I had to read every darn guidebook's take on a certain place and voila you would be amazed (perhaps not) of all the inaccuracies that major guidebooks had - Rick's is not worse or better than the other guides yet folks want to hold him to a higher standard.
PalenQ is offline  
Old Sep 25th, 2014, 01:12 PM
  #150  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 21,369
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Yes, I have certainly found inaccuracies in Rick Steves's guidebooks. While one can't blame him for things that changed after publication, some of his instructions are confusing. I tried to follow his directions for a "scenic walk" in Potsdam from a tram stop to one of the palaces. I found the directions impossible to follow and confusing and gave up. But, nobody's perfect. I don't hold him to higher standards of accuracy than anyone else compiling numerous guidebooks full of hundreds (thousands?) of specific details.

It's important to check details we get from guidebooks (e.g. train and bus schedules, restaurants, etc.), of course. What I rely on them for instead is a sense of what places are about and which ones I might find interesting.
Andrew is offline  
Old Sep 25th, 2014, 01:13 PM
  #151  
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 6,476
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Palenq

How was your accuracy? Did you lower your standard because others made mistakes?

So now, you are excusing mistakes, not only because of the audience but also because the competition does the same. We are both glad I wasn't your editor.
IMDonehere is offline  
Old Sep 25th, 2014, 01:13 PM
  #152  
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 29,780
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks, dwdvagamundo. Our first guided tour was to Greece (1983--1 week on land, 1 week on a cruise). We spoke no Greek and neither had been to a non-English-speaking country before. We loved having all transportation and tickets provided for us, however, we did come to realize that our choice of how long to stay at a given island wasn't necessarily the same of the tour guide's. As for the commercial aspects, we felt we were kept from interacting with non-touristy stores or areas--particularly in Athens. At the time, our guide said that tourism was Greece's second industry. She was licensed, had to speak 3 languages and was wonderful. LOL, I stood down a machine-gun toting guard who wanted me to put my film canister through the x-ray machine!

I agree with you that the internet has changed the complexion of travel. I wonder if the same percentage of people still go for guided tours and/or cruises. And what is the percentage of people who have the travel bug?
TDudette is offline  
Old Sep 25th, 2014, 01:40 PM
  #153  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 78,320
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
How was your accuracy? Did you lower your standard because others made mistakes?>

I think my accuracy was better than most guides because I compared umpteen sources and then would call direct to the source - tourist office, Monet's Garden director, etc to get the real dope. I was surprised at the many inaccuracies in major guides - my point here is I'm not excusing shoddy research - especially in this day and age of instant knowledge right from the source's web site but that here is the point you should try to wrap your head around - folks like to hold Rick Steves to a higher level than other guides.

Heck Fodor's was lambasted by one of our resident Dordogne experts recentluy in a screaming headlined post about how terrible inaccurate something they had in their info was - she was incredulous that that could happen but it does.

I have not read any of Rick's recent publications but think that with all his moolah he has researchers now to do the dirty work for him and he may just put his name on his guides at this point.
PalenQ is offline  
Old Sep 25th, 2014, 02:07 PM
  #154  
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 6,476
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
PALENQ

In many cases you did not visit the places you were writing about? And in other cases you relied on the people promoting the place to give you the truth?

Fodor's is not above reproach, and although I did not read the complaints about the Dordogne, if it is the usual suspect, she is not shy about correcting anyone. In fact, I think she does that for living.
IMDonehere is offline  
Old Sep 25th, 2014, 02:46 PM
  #155  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 78,320
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
IMNotDonehereyet:

I certainly visited and re-visited every place I wrote about but the type of info I wanted to find were opening hours, admission fee, days closed and yes general advice - not the kind of promoting you think.

Like at Giverny Monet's House - I wanted to be sure that Mondays were still closed (again before the Internets made it easy to find out) - and during the course of the phone call to the director - some nice lady - she also advised against Wednesday visits because 'many schools in France at lower levels have Wednesday afternoons off and grandparents love to take their kids here then so it is more crowded than usual (of course during the school year), etc.

Yes I was not writing Mona Winks or some art book outside my realm of knowledge and I think it was presumptuous for Steves to do that without at least much more research (I'm not a critic of the book but some of the folks above seem to be and criticize the info) - but the title was catchy and in general probably just what the casually interested in art types who dash to see the Mona Lisa then leave wanted and did not care about whether every detail was accurate.

Oh well - funny me coming to the defense of Rick because I have been a big critic of his approach, especially in his early books where he came across as the archetypical Ugly American IMO.

His books were - were again I'm not up to date on guidebooks any more - as well researched or as shoddily researched as any casual guide - heck even the Michelin Green guide I found had some things wrong! Let's Go Europe was the biggest sloppiest guide but that at that time was really written by college students running around Europe but again that guide for its target audience was great and still is not because of its accuracy but because of its unique info unparalleled in other guides.

i.e. Judge a guide on whose its intended audience and what they are looking for, not you.
PalenQ is offline  
Old Sep 25th, 2014, 03:11 PM
  #156  
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 6,476
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Respect your audience and do not be lax because you think that your readership is not worthy of accuracy.
IMDonehere is offline  
Old Sep 25th, 2014, 06:31 PM
  #157  
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 109
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Wow! 155 replies and counting. A handful of Fodorites sure get bent out of shape over Rick Steves. Why do you care what he says or does. That's a rhetorical question; no need to respond.
sumrcr is offline  
Old Sep 26th, 2014, 03:07 AM
  #158  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,242
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I have watched most of Rick's shows over the years but found the Internet provides much more relevant info for my travel needs. There are a few useful nuggets in his shows. But I have to laugh every time he goes on about taking only a carry on for his European trips. I suppose some folks can do that but there is no way we could manage a 12 day trip thru Europe with just a carryon.
BillT is offline  
Old Sep 26th, 2014, 03:59 AM
  #159  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 78,320
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Respect your audience and do not be lax because you think that your readership is not worthy of accuracy.>

Rick's audience seems to love his books - best selling guidebook, nuff said - throw sticks and stones all you want over rather trivial complaints - but do not throw the baby out with the bath water.
PalenQ is offline  
Old Sep 26th, 2014, 07:23 AM
  #160  
 
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 6,476
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
And McDonald's is the best selling hamburger and wrestling is still gets high ratings on cable.
IMDonehere is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

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