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Posted by
12479 posts

Scraggly peasant signing off!

O Emma, I was HOWLING! And this...

217: I have more than enough fanny without the pack.
230: Are you going to tell him or shall I?!

Posted by
651 posts

Highly amusing! And does explain why so many of you refer to the 'Chunnel', haven't hear it been called that for about 30 years......

Posted by
2624 posts

I never liked his idea of making Bath your first destination after landing at Heathrow. I have seen things in his books that was wrong and/or out dated, but I’m sure that would happen in other travel books to.

Posted by
6332 posts

I enjoyed reading a lot of these comments (didn't read them all) and agreed with some and not with others. I did have to laugh though because some of them show up the difference between British humor and American humor. Some of the commenters seem to expect a guide book to be nothing but facts and numbers and take everything written in them literally and the author should never say anything tongue-in-cheek or satirical, or have a personality behind the writing. I don't follow RS slavishly and rarely use more than a few nuggets gleaned by reading his books, but I do enjoy looking through them, along with other guide books, to get ideas for my travels. And I really like his, what some would call 'low-brow', humor.

Posted by
18869 posts

It appears that the Europeans in that thread (mostly UK residents, I gather, which is natural since it's on the London forum) are blaming RS for all the oddities of the American tourists they encounter. Yet we on this forum know that a considerable percentage of the new posters right here seem never to have opened a guide book by RS--or any other author, for that matter.

Posted by
8945 posts

Some on that forum also don't seem to understand or care that the book is written for a mostly American audience. On bloke faulted Rick's explanation of the Oyster Card because he didn't include info about using contactless cards; not understanding that these cards are virtually non-existent in the US. I also find it odd that citizens of a land that gave popularity to Jeremy Clarkson, would find Rick's stereotypes, generalizations and humor so objectionable.

Posted by
3173 posts

On bloke faulted Rick's explanation of the Oyster Card because he
didn't include info about using contactless cards; not understanding
that these cards are virtually non-existent in the US.

That's not true. My husband and I have had contactless cards for at least 5 years. While the US is woefully behind the curve regarding credit card functionality (ie the universality of pin/chip, not just pin/signature), contactless functionality very much exists in the US.

I'm still reading the TA criticisms. The repetitive critiques regarding inaccuracies give one pause -- at least it does for me.

I then wonder if TA readers have such high disregard for RS' advice, why do so many people seem to pay attention to it?

Posted by
8945 posts

I used to have contactless cards as well. But Chase and the few banks that did issue these cards have given up on the feature in favor of Android and Apple Pay. When your cards expire it's unlikely the new cards will have that chip. I don't know anyone who has one of these cards these days, ironically a lot of merchants accept contactless cards in the US, but it's mostly foreigners who can use it.

Posted by
72 posts

Why would a UK citizen's opinion on Rick Steves, who caters to Americans who want to know more information before they travel, matter? Do we care about Stephen Fry? No. A lot on that thread have said they hate him because he doesn't rate the UK highly.

You should never get your information from only one source. But Rick serves a purpose.

Posted by
25724 posts

I'm afraid I gave up after about 50 whinges, many repeating themselves. It is passing interesting to skim but seems quite judgemental.

I do also wonder about what the loudest complainers were on about with complaining that facts were 30 years out of date and that the books are rife with misinformation.

I never did see the meat of those complaints so could somebody who either has a recent RS UK book (mine is from 1997 or something) or who has seen what the actual errors are please tell me what the glaring errors are? Is he really so off base?

Posted by
6332 posts

When reading some of the things they claim to have read in his books, I also think they may be basing their opinions on older versions of his books, maybe even those from the '90's and early 2000's. For one thing, I'm pretty sure he hasn't called the the Eurostar route the 'chunnel' anytime recently.

Posted by
5966 posts

Its those damn Russian hackers trying to sow discord in the US travel industry, and consequently, the NATO alliance.

Posted by
4527 posts

For one thing, I'm pretty sure he hasn't called the Eurostar route the 'chunnel' anytime recently.

There is this:

Any tips for booking Eurostar (Chunnel) seats?
The Eurostar train zips you from downtown London through the "Chunnel" to downtown Paris

https://www.ricksteves.com/travel-help/rail-faq

Posted by
546 posts

Well from my perspective this kind of thing is expected on TA. It is a "Mob" Site that draws a lot of Axe grinders. Mostly what I read is the typical Snarkyness about anything not invented there or their "Own" (as in one of their own.)

Most of those posts are inaccurate to a breathless degree...50 Countries in Europe??? I don't know what map that person was using but by my count the EU has 28 countries. Now even if you add in the others that were traditionally Europe that are not part of the EU you are still no where near 50.

It seems apparent to me that many who commented know little or nothing about RS or his books. It's just a case of Forum "Pile-On"

Posted by
362 posts

I thought the same thing about the number of countries in Europe, so I googled it. Per worldatlas.com and other sites, yes indeed there are 50 countries in Europe. Some include a small number of countries whose territory is considered to be in both Europe and Asia (Eurasia).
https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/how-many-countries-are-in-europe.html
I read through several of the TA postings. Having never been to England, I can't address the guidebook accuracy concerns. However, I think serious travelers usually look at several sources for their info. Rick's books are good, and he freely admits he doesn't include everything, just the places that are his favorites and recommendations. It's each traveler's responsibility to figure out where they want to go and what they want to do.
As to finding fault with him making a good living with his guidebooks, tours, etc., more power to him! I think he's an ethical business owner and truly cares about making this a more tolerant planet through travel.

Posted by
1063 posts

"Well from my perspective this kind of thing is expected on TA. It is a "Mob" Site that draws a lot of Axe grinders. Mostly what I read is the typical Snarkyness about anything not invented there or their "Own" (as in one of their own.)"

Most forums (IME) can fall into that "mob" category at times.

Posted by
12479 posts

...we give the world so much ammunition!

First good laugh of the day, Emma! Humorless whingers on that thread aside, much of the rest of it was just good-naturedly, intentionally funny! My dear Brit friend in the Leicester area would probably describe it as "So terribly English".

Maybe I'm easily amused, or maybe I just choose to be amused. Had a kitchen to paint yesterday and there was definitely nothing amusing about THAT so enjoyed the chuckle. Beats getting the (Ex-officio) undies all in a bunch.

Now, will someone please remove any sharp objects from our Nancy's reach? 😉

Posted by
9767 posts

Brilliant, Emma! Thanks!

What always amazes me in Forums -- not this one so much -- is the need to tear others down rather than offer constructive advice.

Posted by
1580 posts

And, this forum has people with a wonderful sense of humor - loved it, Emma!

Posted by
9779 posts

I always presumed that RS was attempting to educate. Now that I know he is supposed to be funny I will have to watch him in a completely different light! ;-)

Well, he does say that he is first and foremost a teacher. He teaches people how to want to take one of his tours.

Why does he say start your tour in Bath? Because that's where his Best of England tour starts.

I'm not faulting the guy, he has a business to run. And he is excellent at marketing his business.

And, yes, there are 50 Countries in Europe.

Posted by
3176 posts

The main issue with criticizing Rick Steves books is what is the alternative? It is the most all-around satisfactory book for major European tourist areas. It doesn't stray into the margins away from the crowds too much (no mention of Bamberg or Coburg in the Germany book, no mention of Trondheim or Geiranger Fjord in the Norway book), but the commentary is memorable/helpful/concise, the hand-drawn walking maps are wonderful, and there's quite a bit of practical getting there and around info. And the product is even from country to country, no surprises. I don't use a guidebook for lodging or restaurants so I skip that part.

Reading a bit of that TA post, I'm surprised how often errors are pointed out as a huge failing. I haven't found any issue with errors and omissions when actually visiting places and reading the details from the book are a match, things like hours, admissions, access, descriptions. I don't think the books would be successful if that were a common problem.

Posted by
4637 posts

We older people remember fewer countries in Europe. Many were added after disintegration of the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia.

Posted by
3176 posts

And no, there aren't 50 countries in Europe:
3 are in Asia: Armenia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan

In addition
4 aren't "real" countries: Vatican, Monaco, San Marino, Liechtenstein
2 are mostly on other continents: Russia, Turkey

Yes there are other guides, but the issues are greater: too much weight, too many pictures, poor maps, poor local descriptions, unwanted roughing it or hostel details, no logistics.

Posted by
25724 posts

Which parts of Vatican, Monaco, San Marino, Liechtenstein are not real?

Do they each have recognized borders?

Do they each have citizens? Do they all provide public services?

Do they each have a head of state and government?

How are any of them less than Andorra? Or any other country?

Is it because they all have a relatively high standard of living?

Posted by
6332 posts

Okay, this thread has devolved from a discussion about RS and his guidebooks into a discussion about how many countries in Europe and how a country is defined. It's fascinating - like playing a game of 'telephone'.

Posted by
4363 posts

And, yes, there are 50 Countries in Europe.

I thought the question was how many countries are in the EU (28) not how many are in Europe.

Posted by
253 posts

One of the more ridiculous threads I have ever encountered anywhere. And TripAdvisor is largely a bunch of complainers who expect everything to be just like home. Literally "the problem with our Ecuadoran resort was that there were just so many people from Ecuador there".

While not every detail is correct, I feel that the RS guidelines have been 1. Go and 2. Go with an open mind. That is enough for me. Good evening.

Posted by
1878 posts

I do not find TripAdvisor to a credible go-to source for information. I'm not surprised there would be a lot of random negative stuff on their message boards.

Posted by
9779 posts

If you want a great selection of travel guides, when in London, go to Stanfords.

Even Foyle's--the main store on Charing Cross--has an excellent travel section. Although I do miss the old store.

Waterstones on Piccadilly has an excellent travel section and it's right next to one of their cafes. (Lower level). That Waterstone's is now the largest bookstore in Europe or so they claim.

Yes, I like bookstores.

Posted by
4527 posts

TripAdvisor forums have a rather different mix of participants from the review part of the site.

Posted by
68 posts

Can I add that the reason I will continue to stay on these RS forums rather than the TA ones whilst researching our upcoming trip is so I don't have to refresh the page every 10 comments?

Posted by
8945 posts

I always presumed that RS was attempting to educate. Now that I know
he is supposed to be funny I will have to watch him in a completely
different light!

From the back-cover of one of Rick's guidebooks I randomly pulled off my shelf:
"...rely of Rick's candid, humourous advice....."

Posted by
12479 posts

I do not find TripAdvisor to a credible go-to source for information.

I don't know about that. Sure, you have to weed out the sly advertisers, chronic curmudgeons, erroneous 'informers', Chicken Littles, travelers with a completely different style/budget than your own and whatnot but you have to do that on ANY travel forum, including this one. TA just has a much, much larger user base than RS - which isn't a negative, regarding perspectives/insights from a broader international community - so involves a bit more sorting.

There are patient, well-informed RS forum contributors who assist on TA as well, and their information is no less kindly and credible there than here? It helps to look at an individual's posting history: that helps in deciding whether it's someone you should glean advice from or not. And just as I don't use a singular guidebook for my trip research, neither do I use a singular website. What I do like about TA is the ability to post photos, especially of accommodations. Candid shots are more useful to me than prettied-up ad photos which, say, don't show rooms sizes accurately, and skip details like very narrow, very steep stairways or a shower with no barrier between it and the rest of the bathroom. Anyway, while not personally a TA member, I do think it has its merits.

Editing to add: Peter D is providing some thoughtful comments about why American travelers inquire/worry about some of the things that they do, and why, as a nation, we're generally not as well traveled, internationally. Conversely, I think some of us have scratched our heads over questions and concerns some foreigners have when planning their U.S. adventures! :O)

Posted by
1139 posts

I've never purchased any travel guide, let alone a Rick Steves one, relying on the library in the past and the internet lately. I do watch his videos on PBS and YouTube and find him to be pleasant. I do like his humour, particularly his deliberate fumbles with foreign languages, which are comedy gold. His Italian is as good as Brad Pitt's in 'Inglourious Basterds', his French on par with the actors in the dreadful Ooh-La-Lah.

In his defense, the misspellings which the Brits complain about may be a case of he says tomato, they say tomato. He has been instrumental in pushing many cakey North Americans off their cushioned backsides, expanding their horizons, transforming them into roving Chuck Polo's. His is also not the only guide to omit what others consider important information. Frommers and Fodors, from what I remember, do not mention many pleasant market towns in the UK, the DK book on Germany does not mention two of my favourite spots in Bavaria. He may just write about where he has been and what he likes: it's his guide, after all. I do not have the time to read all the TA posts but one poster complained that Mr Steves had ruined Cinque Terre for everyone, with the increased flock of tourists his tours bring. The poster is naturally right to feel aggrieved, the Cinque Terre should be reserved for Brits only, as should Dordogne and Tuscany.

I do not know the exact number of countries in Europe. I do know that the Northern Irish, Welsh and Scots do not refer to themselves as citizens of the UK. Enter a downtown Glasgow pub on an early Saturday afternoon and try telling a Glasgow Rangers or Celtic supporter that they are British.

Lastly, I thought I was ugly. Jeremy Clarkson has me beat hands down, and he is not funny (apart from his face, of course, which is longer than Lake Konigssee). All this Brit talk has put me in the mood to watch a Sid James film tonight, I say to my wife with a mischevous grin, as I rub my palms together.

Posted by
1120 posts

Trip advisor = fake news?
No, seriously..... t'was fun reading the variety of comments.
Reality? RS is an authentic soul.

Posted by
12189 posts

Many of those comments on the TA thread are about as accurate as the reference in post #8 to “ some bloke from California”.

Posted by
4363 posts

I do know that the Northern Irish, Welsh and Scots do not refer to themselves as citizens of the UK

Do you? That's quite a sweeping generalisation. I can assure you that there's a significant proportion of Northern Irish citizens who very much consider themselves as British.

Posted by
361 posts

Ive read RS books, and watched many of his videos- and my husband actually met him at a convention and got me a signed copy of his “Ireland” book (my next trip). I think people need to take it for what it is- ADVICE. It’s up to you whether you follow it or not. There is also TA with many good tips, countless Youtube videos, lots of travel blogs, Instagram pages, ect. I appreciate all advice given on this forum, as planning a trip to me is almost as fun as the actual trip! Times have certainly changed since RS started, and while many older versions of his books hold obsolete info, they are still a good read and full of inspiration.

Posted by
25724 posts

and the Scottish referendum to leave the UK was defeated. So at least some of the blue-painted hordes to the north (and other Scots) consider themselves part of the UK. Part of England, not so much.

Posted by
1139 posts

"That's quite a sweeping generalisation."

Guilty as charged when it comes to the Northern Irish, I will get off my high horse JC. I realise there are religious differences and political allegiances, an issue best left to a separate forum. My opinion is based on an extensive survey of 5 or 6 people from Belfast and Donaghadee who frequent my local drinking holes. They will call themselves Irish before anything else, none of them are catholics. I stick by my viewpoint of the Welsh and Scots. I was trying, unsuccesfully it seems, to shed some light on the 50 countries in Europe issue. England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales are officially lumped together as one country.

Posted by
253 posts

Emma and Nigel, while most of us American travelers know the difference between the UK and England, I am afraid that we commonly refer to both as "England". The offense and ignorance, while not intentional, is ours. Of course, we also ignore our neighbors in Canada while referring to ourselves as Americans (I don't think they mind) and we also are the only participants in the World Series and the Super Bowl.

Posted by
3895 posts

Hey now Jeff - Toronto Blue Jays won the world series...um...many years ago...lol.

Posted by
1139 posts

Ah, Lewisburg, PA. We stopped off there for a bite to eat on the way back from Washington once, as Lewisburg was listed as worth a visit on the 'Small Town Gems' website. Nothing to do with Rick Steves, unless it's in one of his books.

Posted by
12479 posts

...while most of us American travelers know the difference between the
UK and England, I am afraid that we commonly refer to both as
"England"

"We" do? 🤔

Posted by
2624 posts

Jeff, you said that most Americans refer to the UK as England, I beg to differ. I don’t think anyone can speak for most Americans, only for themselves. If my travel plans include Wales or Scotland then I’ll say that I’m going to the UK, if I’ll only be in England then I’ll say I’m going to England. My trips are always to the U.K., I’m always in Wales and England.

Posted by
9779 posts

I see many people, non-travelers mostly, get confused with the difference between Great Britain and the United Kingdom.

I explain it very simply.....Great Britain has one main type of whiskey and the United Kindgom has two. :)

Posted by
4363 posts

Actually Great Britain has one type of whisky and the UK has one type of whisky. Ireland has whiskey but they're neither British nor part of the UK.

Posted by
9779 posts

Did you forget about Old Bushmills? Distilled in Northern Ireland.

Posted by
996 posts

I must thank the OP for posting this topic. I went over to Trip Advisor to read part of that extremely long thread, and I enjoyed the parts I did read.

Posted by
1139 posts

I could be wrong, of course, as I am many times by my own admission, but I believe the Scottish vote to stay was not out of any great desire to rush south and polish the crown jewels in the Tower of London, more as a vote for the norm and economic stability. Economic stability is a great persuader and often rules the head, as it well should do in certain circumstances, including this one. It does not rule the heart, however.

Ask the Greco-Spanish Sean Connery, the friendly Groundskeeper Willie, or any of the many amateur Scots football players I have had the honour to struggle against on the football field here in Ontario. They consider themselves to be Scotsmen before they are British or citizens of the UK. The god-like Denis Law, who was firmly on the 'no' leave side of the referendum, is fiercely patriotic and famously could not bear to watch England in the 1966 World Cup final. He was also the last Scot to be anointed European footballer of the year, officially listed as player from Scotland.

As an aside, dear moderators and IT people, how come posts cannot be date and time stamped to one time zone?

Posted by
4363 posts

Did you forget about Old Bushmills? Distilled in Northern Ireland.

OK, I'll rephrase it. Great Britain has whisky (many types) whilst the UK has whisky (many types) and one type of whiskey.

Posted by
25724 posts

how come posts cannot be date and time stamped to one time zone?

They are. Yours.

Posted by
4363 posts

I'm English born with grandparents who were Polish, Irish and English. My nationality when recorded for formal requirements is British but I identify as English. I will support England on a national sports level but I'm not averse to supporting Wales or Scotland if they're facing another nation other than England.

My national pride doesn't extend to hatred of other nations as it does with some people, that's just ridiculous and the "anyone but England" mentality is really quite pathetic.

Posted by
1063 posts

"My national pride doesn't extend to hatred of other nations as it does with some people, that's just ridiculous and the "anyone but England" mentality is really quite pathetic."

Absolutely agree, i've come across it many times from the Welsh and Scottish, always struck me as strange that it's acceptable to be "proud" if you're from those countries but not if you're from England, it's possible that's due to a hatred of the government (london) but that's nothing to do with me personally.

Posted by
253 posts

I guess I should have written "most of us American travelers know the difference between the UK and England, I am afraid that many of us commonly refer to both as "England"

Gunderson, Lewisburg is, indeed, a very nice place to live.

Toronto and Montreal do/did have major league baseball teams-and Anaheim has an NHL team, but we all really know the truths,don't we? :)

Posted by
7919 posts

Every post on this thread has been really fun to read. I really wish we had “like” buttons at times like this.

A quote from Emma that I agree with in particular... “The whinging and humour doesn’t mean that some quite valid points weren’t made. Very much “first world problems” but still valid.”

RS is good for many things and I do like him but... there are things that annoy me.
One poster on TA suggested reading a section of any guidebook on an area you know well and see if it aligns with you which I think is good advice. I have often been annoyed or found mistakes with RS Paris guidebook. I really don’t believe Rick knows Paris well at all, and for me it shows.

As I said, I still like Rick and his directions on how to get somewhere, what door to enter, etc is really helpful. But many TA posts were valid imo.

Emma, loved your post about the different “tribes”... so funny, so true.

Posted by
11450 posts

Well I love most of the tripadvisor forums and have definately gotten a ton of help off them .. help I didnt get here.. as this forum has mostly Americans or American expats.. and on some of the TA forums we have locals.. locals who can help with a lot more obscure information.

I once needed to get a train out to a relatives in France.. he was elderly and had moved to another small town outside Paris.. He told me to take the train and he would meet me at station.

Problem is .. and he didnt seem to know ( because of his advanced age or because he just moved I think a combo of both ) what town I was to take train into.
His town did not have a train station..

Luckily a TA member.. a french lady some may know from the Paris tripadvisor.com forums as Mrs.FrenchMystic was able to figure out exactly where my relative lived and which station would be best to train into.. and then which bus to catch.. all obscure small places .

I dont like the way some of you think to be true RS fans you have to cut down other forums.. I think its silly.. I use ALL the forums I can.. they all help with different things. .

Posted by
1580 posts

I've watched/read this thread and read the TA thread. I never would have happened on the TA thread without the OP and it was an interesting and thought-provoking read. I am a RS fan - taken tours, read the guidebooks, watch the shows and had a chance to talk with him. I'm also a TA fan -use it, respond on it and write reviews. At first I was taken aback by the posts on the thread, but taking the time to think about it, there were some good points made.

Of all the guidebooks I've tried, RS, Frommers, Fodors, Lonely Planet and DK, I seem to get the most out of the RS guidebooks. I think he puts forward more of his personality in his books and that may come across a flippant. But, I've also learned the books have their limits. He leaves out or gives cursory treatment to places I want to go and more than once I found holes in his directions. I find better luck with his food recommendations than his hotel ideas. For me, I've learned he is a resource, not a "gospel".

The thread did make me realize that something that i might not even register as insensitive, might mean more to the people it references.

Posted by
1139 posts

Nigel: "how come posts cannot be date and time stamped to one time zone?
They are. Yours."
I have a screenshot of my post with the two preceeding ones dated 31 March at 8:27am. Your reply is not on it and does not appear until several hours later, yet it is time stamped earlier than mine. I don't know how that happens. This interferes with the natural flow of the conversation.

Emma…."the proud Scots you play football against Love their country SO much they have chosen not to live there. An interesting form of patriotism…..I refer you to the British expats living in Spain voting for Brexit."
The word proud and love are yours, not mine, Subtle differences but a differences nonetheless, they are not my words. My point was that a good majority of Scots will refer to themselves as being Scottish before thay call themselves British, whether they be in Scotland or in Canada. If Brits living in Spain are to be ridiculed for influencing the Brexit vote from Spain, as they should be, then surely the 'stay' people settled in Canada, Dordogne, Chiantishire and the Algarve deserve the same treatment: they have chosen not to live in the UK to begin with, after all.
If Canada ever makes it to another World Cup tournament, ninety percent of the footballing community will rooting for the country of their forebears. It's the way it is. The majority of the many Polish people living in England now, who I presume do love their country and choose not to live there, will soon be rooting for Poland over England despite the benefits they reap from living in England.

Regarding 1966 as being ancient history, that is good to know. I can now talk my wife out of visiting Rome again, we can set our sights firmly on Milton Keynes instead.

All this has nothing to do with the original post regarding Rick Steves, of course. I like him.

Posted by
5559 posts

It's been a while since I've been on the forum. I had forgotten about the RickSteves/Tripadvisor Wars. There seems to be a lot of judging going on in both places. Personally, I use both. And horror of horrors I will buy a guidebook now and then! It might be an ebook these days! Sure, you can get a lot of information online today. There are some terrific websites that offer specialty info about countries and travel. Undiscovered Scotland just keeps getting better and better. BUT there is a lot to be said for curated information. If I were going to a country I've not been to before in Europe, I would probably start with a Rick Steves Guidebook. I have found that the descriptions are accurate. You might not like what he chooses to cover, but what he does cover, in my experience, is accurately covered.

So, when traveling I am going to check out this forum; check out TA; pick up a guidebook; and, do some Internet Research. I don't feel the need to just use one source. :)

Pam

Posted by
12320 posts

It is exactly because that RS books cater to an American audience that one should not rely solely on them. I don't use them at all, never have. As pointed out above, there are other guide books available for the first time traveler to Europe or a newbie without even having to consult RS books and seeing travel through his US lens. On Trip Advisor: forget it. I don't care for them , never used them.

Posted by
25724 posts

come on guys, keep writing.

We've made post number 75 on this thread - surely there is the potential here to reach 100....

Come on, be positive... we can DO it!!!

Posted by
571 posts

Living in the U.K., I rarely see Rick Steves' guide books. I have to rely on sneaked glances taken in U.S. airport bookshops. Since our travel style is rarely visits to "must sees", I am also unaware of the effects of his recommendations on individual places. My only experience of it is the evening we were in Arromanches in Normandy and looked out a place to eat - as usual by wandering the streets and comparing the menus displayed to see what suited our appetities. We found a small, pleasant, restaurant but were soon struck by the number of fellow diners who were North American couples clutching particular colour guidebooks.

There was nothing wrong with Rick's recommendation, but it was suprising that on a quiet evening in September none of the other diners had not felt bold enough to strike out on their own at one of the other possible venues. Were they also all staying at the same hotel? The one the "locals" are supposed to favour, with thin walls, creaky floors and a bathroom down the corridor?

Posted by
533 posts

I've found a lot of valuable information in Rick's shows and guidebooks, but I've always found the overall perspective to be a little incoherent. He goes on about the virtues of "Europe through the back door" and authentic cultural experiences and being a "temporary local," but then he has you spending your days running between museums and galleries and palaces and other "sights" - while of course eating at his favorite restaurants and staying at his favorite hotels.

I'd love to see a guidebook series that completely did away with the restaurant and hotel recommendations. A major city may have thousands of hotels and restaurants - are we really supposed to believe that any one person (or any one company) knows enough about all of them to pick out the few dozen or so that are the best? Not to mention that people have different interests, preferences, and needs, so what's best for you may not be best for me.

Rather, I'd like a guidebook that focused on things like basic practical information (what's the easiest/cheapest way into town from the airport, on what days of the week are major markets held), a run-down of the nature and character of various neighborhoods, a bit of context about some of the specific things I might be looking at (either in a museum or just walking around town), and good-quality maps (call me old-fashioned, but I like to have a map in my pocket before I arrive in a place that I can mark with the location of my hotel and other places I'd like to go). Rick's books do a great job with some of those, less so with others.

Posted by
4363 posts

are we really supposed to believe that any one person (or any one company) knows enough about all of them to pick out the few dozen or so that are the best? Not to mention that people have different interests, preferences, and needs, so what's best for you may not be best for me.

This is why I neither ask for nor offer restaurant recommendations other than in rare exceptions simply because personal tastes and opinions are so subjective and different. It amazes me that some people will trawl Tripadvisor for restaurant reviews and then take the word of one person on these forums when making a decision on where to eat. Either you're happy to take the advice of a complete stranger or you're not, to ignore potentially hundreds of reviews of a place and decide to go with the view of one person seems bizarre to me.

I've often followed the advice of friends because they know me, they know what I like and invariably they share similar tastes to me other than that my best successes have been choosing a place based on its menu. A recent trip to Benahavis in Spain saw us choosing a restaurant for lunch, in a place full of outstanding restaurants it was difficult to choose however I opted for one that had a good rating on Tripadvisor and other reviews. En route we passed a restaurant that we had been in before and had a good experience however the interior had changed and we were met by one of the staff outside who explained that they had only been open a few months. I looked at the menu posted outside and liked what I saw so decided to go for it. The place was empty however it was only 1 pm although it did start to fill up halfway through our meal. The food was excellent and the service was impeccable. I looked it up on Tripadvisor, it had a handful of reviews, all excellent but because it was a new place it didn't even feature in the top 20 simply because it didn't have enough reviews.

Posted by
3895 posts

Other than someplace that sells pastries/desserts/gelato, I've never used a guidebooks restaurant recommendations. We never plan anything ahead food wise, and just look for something when we get hungry. I can't say I've ever used hotel rec's either - I just hunt for deals on airbnb...

Posted by
12320 posts

Whenever I used hotel recommendations for traveling in France, Germany, England, and Poland, they were from Let's Go and Rough Guide, not from either RS or Trip Adv. . None was ever an unpleasant experience or disappointment as these recommendations on small hotels, Pensionen, B&Bs were geared to budget travelers.

Posted by
533 posts

On a few occasions I've stayed in places that I later found out were also recommended in Rick's books. They were all fine, but not noticeably better (or worse) than the many places I've stayed that didn't get the RS recommendation.

I have had one somewhat bad experience with choosing a place based on Tripadvisor ratings. It was a B&B that cost somewhat more than the other places in town that I was considering, but it had pages upon pages of glowing reviews that praised things like the "exquisite attention to detail," so I thought I'd treat myself. I soon found out that one person's "exquisite attention to detail" is another person's "overbearing hosts and insufferable snootiness." Since then, I've learned to really pay attention to what the reviews say, rather than just looking at the star rating.

Posted by
1139 posts

"This is a thread criticising people for being critical."

There's no call for that kind of criticism, this is a happy forum.

Posted by
680 posts

There is nothing I love more than a good "tripadvisor vs RS" fight! I imagine a scene similar to the parking lot fight in Anchorman. Each guidebook coming in for a rumble!

lol!

If I was smart and kept a "best posts ever" list, this would be high on my list.