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Just got back from a great trip to Bruges, Amsterdam, Bacharach, Rothenburg, Venice, CT, Nice, Arles and Paris. I took trains everywhere and did not encounter any problems (except for a rail strike in Italy, but a few trains still ran). Things I have noticed:
1) Do not be paranoid about pickpockets!!! They are out there, but don't let then ruin your trip! Just be smart and don't stuff a wallet fulkl of cash in your pocket.
2) Europeans are very well dressed. I played guess the North American tourist pretty easy (runners with shorts and a logo t-shirt)
3) Some prices in the Rick Steves books have increased (museums, buses, metros etc..)
4) Don't feel obligated to go to every museum that was given a 3 triangle rating! If you aren't a museum/art gallery person dont waste your time AND money!
5) The directions for his self guided walks got me lost a few times. I ended up putting the book away and got lost on my own terms. I hated having my nose buried in a book following the walks...I prefered just wandering around aimlessly.

I am sure there are more things but I can't think of them now. If anyone has questions feel free to PM me.
And thanks to everyone on here because my trip would not have gone as smoothly as it did without this helpline!!!

Posted by
876 posts

Thanks for posting a follow-up, Kate!

I'd love to know where you stayed in Paris and if you have any particular recommendations for eats and sites.

Posted by
11450 posts

Glad to hear you had such a great time Kate, and I agree, might as well get lost on ones own, you sometimes discover the most amazing things that way. I also agree that there is no such thing as a " must see" site, if it doesn't interest you personally don't bother, I personally hate abstract art and have never spent a centime on going to the Picassos Museum .
I also agree that prices in ANY guide book should be assumed to be slightly off as books go to printer usually in winter of year before, so by spring release prices could have been put up.

So, where was your favorite place? Which place was less then you expected, and which was more?

Thanks for posting, when are you going back??LOL

Posted by
1717 posts

Hello Kate. We appreciate your report on your recent trip in Europe. In my experience in Europe, some of Rick Steves' self guided walks, described in his books, are a waste of time. If a person has time, it may be better to wander in a town, and become lost, and act according to your instincts and intuition and whims.
When I was in England, the day I became lost while walking to a train station on the isle of Wight, I had an experience, meeting an English person, that was more enjoyable than what I would have had if I had not become lost.

Posted by
225 posts

Good advice...thanks Kate! I have all of RS walks marked in my books ready for when we get there. Now, I'm re-thinking it. I think I may feel just like you did..won't want my nose buried in a book. Gives me something to think about. Thanks for the great tips.

Posted by
1717 posts

Hello Susan and Monte. Rick Steve's self-guided walks, described in his travel guide books, are helpful in some cities. I recommend using those directions in his walks, if it is for going to a place that you want to go to. For example : the "Westminster Walk" in London. That is the way to go if a person wants to go from Westminster Abbey to the British Gallery (at Tralfagar square). And, in Rome in ITALY : I recommend going on the "SELF-GUIDED WALKS IN ROME" that are in the book "Rick Steves' ITALY" : "Roman Forum Walk". "The Dolce Vita Stroll down Via del Corso". "Night Walk Across Rome: Campo de'Fiori to the Spanish Steps". When I said some of his walks are a waste of time, I was thinking of the walk in the old medieval town at the island Gamla Stan in Stockholm Sweden. It goes in a circle, in narrow streets, with nothing interesting or beautiful or charming to see. I was there, and I think the only reason for going to Gamla Stan is to go in the old Palace and its museums, and the museum of medieval Stockholm.

Posted by
590 posts

Pat: My favorite place was the Rhine region and Rothenburg, CT, Paris and Nice. I think I really liked the coastal areas as I am from the cold flat prarie region lol! Nice I really liked because of the cheap fast day trip options that you can take. And I love hiking so that made the CT a favorite. Venice was nice but WAY too overcrowded. I started to feel clausterphobic on the streets and museums. It is a place that I am very gald I have seen, but I don't think I will be back (Amsterdam was like that for me as well).
My next trip will be Eastern Europe for 3-4 weeks hopefully in two years but realistically in three!

Posted by
448 posts

Guide books are a bit like cook books for me...recipes (except for cakes when you really need to follow the instructions)...are good base for ideas of what to do ...For example, in Rome, we followed the Night Tour of Rick...but during the day..and it was just fine. I used his advice for the Capitoline Museum...and got lost, and tired, twice....When we had friends visit in Paris, I tore out the pages of Rick's Louvre tour for them (shocked to see a librarian tear up a book)...but it worked..and they saw what they wanted , and more...So, don't weigh your bag down with the guide books...but don't be so smug as to think you don't need them......