He really is an amazing guy. A great counterpoint to the superficiality and soulless commodification associated with the mainstream industry marketing "unique" travel destinations for people that really don't give a shit about actually learning about a place.
Lonely Planet bastards.
I totally agree with him 100%. Traveling should be about expanding your mind and your knowledge of the world around you, not lying on a beach at fucking Sandals.
And I would fucking LOVE to go to Iran. Bravo to Steves. We shouldn't be judged collectively for our fuckhead leadership, and neither should the Iranians.
I was in the audience for that session and the one before on Italy specifically.
The crowd was eating it up and they gave him a standing "O" at the end of the "Travel as a Political Act".
I love Rick Steves and think his guide books are exceptional. However there is a downside -- there were honestly more people from Seattle in the Cinque Terre than actual locals last autumn.
Ok, so the guy kind of annoys me, but I think I just fell in love a little bit. So many people don't use their celebrity for anything except to make more money than they already have. Way to push an important issue.
hey, rick, i'm not traveling to iran until they stop hanging gays and stoning people to death for adultery. but good luck anyway.
Me likee the new and improved Rick Steves. In point of fact, for years I stayed away from his guide books fearing they were like his TV shows. It always seemed Steves looked for the most touristy places and was a huge fan of gimmicky, tourist trap events like folk dancing festivals and sing-a-long beer halls.
Maybe he had to do that stuff in the beginning to broaden his appeal? I don't know. But you'll never catch me in Bavaria or Austria or Switzerland, say, checking out the slappin' lederhosen set. I want to know (1) where the local men are (2) where do locals hang when they feel like going out. Something tells me locals roll their eyes at folk dancing and sing-a-longs just like most Americans wouldn't want to be defined by square dancing and the Grand Ole Opry.
One of the things I appreciate about RS as opposed to most other "celebrities" who use the bully pulpit is that his celebrity actually comes from doing something that educates him about the subject he's discussing. I could give a fuck about what some actor thinks about the war, but RS is, for most intents and purposes, an incredibly experienced cultural anthropologist. That doesn't make him the authority, but at least he has some idea what the hell he's talking about.
This is why I like Rick Steves. This isn't a new and improved version. He's being promoting the same message for years.
As long as Americans are only allowed 10 or so days of vacation a year, they will never be able to learn about or to fully appreciate another country. As for me, I'm fortunate enough to be away a month during the summer (without pay for part of the time:o(). That month has been spent once in Reykjavik studying at the Sigurdur Nordal Institute, where we had 5 hours of Icelandic a day followed by lectures on Iceland's geography, history, etc. This summer I just spent my fourth session for a month at the Uppsala International Summer Session, where we studied Swedish language and culture followed by classes in Swedish art, music, etc. (individual choice for the afternoon class). This summer I will go back to Sweden. But next summer may be spent in Prague at a Czech language and culture institute sponsored by Charles University. I'm one of the lucky Americans who can do that. Until the rest of America begins insisting on decent vacation periods (with or without pay), we will remain ignorant and arrogant.
I've found his guide books quite useful, although I supplement them with Lonely Planet and ignore all the art advice other than how to get in cheap and fast.
@7: I'm gay, and love traveling to Muslim countries. Experiencing and blending into different cultures, even when they would be completely hostile to you if they really knew you, is one of the great joys of traveling. It isn't difficult or scary, either: male friendships in Muslim countries are very strong, and it's not uncommon to see men holding hands.
I stand fully behind this guy's message, even if he is a bit douchey-elitist in his approach.
I have always liked Rick Steves -- his politics, philosophy on travel, etc. But, I have to admit, his voice sort of annoys me (I find it really hard to pay attention to), so I can only watch his PBS show for about 3 minutes, when I come across it.
@11: The very high cost of transatlantic travel is also a barrier to most Americans.
Population density of the U.S.: 85 people per square mile.
Population density of the Netherlands: 1265 people per square mile.
I don't need a driving lecture from Mort Goldman.
he really doesn't need to worry about too many americans in europe this next year. i can't afford to go to canada.
south america, here i come.
He's my hero...he's the only guest on the local PBS pledge drives that can upstage that boring old ham, George Ray....Rick just comes on and slams into his sales pitch, and George just sits there and glowers and pouts.
you said it.
We need 6 weeks minimum like most people in France, Sweden and other countries.
If it resulted in not being ignorant, we likely wouldn't start trillion- dollar idotic wars, too. That would save money in the long run.
Wait, is his company really called "Europe Through the Back Door"?
I spend a lot of time in Europe, mostly on the company tab. I love being there (Deutschland, usually). Being an American has become a massive liability.
1) The authorities give you far more shit than in the past. Payback's a bitch. Just ask any foreign visitor to our Freedom-loving shores.
2) The dollar? Good for wiping your ass.
3) The locals, if they will talk to you, assume you are a xenophobic ignorant moron. (Ever deal with American tourists in Europe? It's usually true.) With extreme effort you can break through this barrier, but it sure isn't automatic.
4) A lot of what I hear from Rick Steves these days is wicked intelligent, and in this era of neo-McCarthyism, somewhat brave, too. But he's done his damage with his books & TV show, because the ignorant morons (see 3) above) are stupid sheep and take everything he says literally. Thus are precious quiet little enclaves turned into check-boxes for Murricans trying to get the most out of their fucking two-week holidays.
I recently made a trip to Morocco. I didn't encounter anything I thought of as anti-American, although the Moroccans may have recognized me as a Canadian because I spoke to them in French. (I had problems with people looking at me as if I was a walking ATM machine but that's another story...) I think they also realize that 50% of us voted against Bush and that anyone who would travel halfway around the world to an Islamic country is probably one of those 50%. That may explain the anti-American sentiment K. A. encountered @21 above--Europe is more typical a destination for the Ugly American than the other continents.
While the American riffraff is holed up in Disney theme parks or tourist trap enclaves, the intelligent travel for adventure. And if you don't act like an asshole when you are a guest in another country, the less likely you will be regarded as one.
@20 -- You bet it is, and I heard that AFTER I'd formed my "this guy must be gay" theory. Well, I near 'bout fell out when I heard him mention his company name!
Add in the long, languid camera shots on every episode that just "happen" to focus on a totally hot local lad...his "friend, the tour guide"...and that VOICE!
Well, I love RS for many reasons (marijuana reform activism, anyone?), and I reckon he just might love me!
PS -- Can't possibly see myself going on one of his tours -- they cost what I pay for a hotel room in Italy for 2 nights. Auntie Jubilation is a grand ol' thang.
Could the people on this thread compliment themselves a little more?
"Most people don't travel like I travel. I'm there to learn, and to question. When I travel, I let the destination speak to me, not the other way around. My vacations are wholistic. We should all have 3 months of vacation a year."
@24 What would you suggest that people say then? How authentically European Busch Gardens is?
Ha, that's a good one.
I try not to make an ass of myself when I travel either, but I also don't self-consciously walk around hoping the Euros will like me. And people who sew Canadian flags on backpacks are pansies.
In order to combat spam, we are no longer accepting comments on this post (or any post more than 45 days old).