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anyone going to Spain?

I think they should have country specific posts on this webiste. I look everyday..and I don't think that too many people go to Spain...so wha't up with that?
And I find it quite interesting that everyone refers to the RS books like they are bibles...what did we do BEFORE RS came along?? Come on people start to explore by yourself. I am sure all these hotels that he says are great..get a little kick-back from him!!

Posted by
240 posts

We all get such a bad rap as american tourists..because we all look like Rick Steves with our backpacks and money belts. I don't think an Italian man or woman would be caught wearing REI pants and a backpack! Wake up people! Do you see the famous wearing REI pants or moneybelts or backpacks??

So what I say is that if we took more time and put ourselves together..we would not get such bad reviews as tourists. You can look chic and still be comfortable and still be able to walk around for hours..just loose that "nerdy" backpack!!

Posted by
445 posts

THREE CHEERS!!!! I wouldn't be caught dead wearing a backpack or Birkenstocks, et al. I manage to look smart enough to be stopped by French people all the time who are looking for directions!!! It makes me smile. You can look smart and be practical at the same time.

I also wouldn't be caught dead at a Rick recommended hotel...all those people clutching one of his books!!! Think out of the box....don't hang on to what Rick says like it's the Bible. I don't think that it what he has in mind. He is almost a victim of his own success. Read, read, read, google like mad, look at OTHER websites, talk to people who have been where you want to go and most of all...don't try to cover all of Europe in one trip.
If you really want to go to Italy more than anywhere else...spend all your time there and see things thoroughly,,,no one night here and one night there.

You can get a lot of good advice on this board so keep watching and most people will tell you to slow
down, and not to follow Rick's suggestions blindly. I have been traveling since long before RIck ever started
and believe me it is not difficult. You have to do your homework though. Happy Traveling!!!

Posted by
9363 posts

So... what's your point? I've been to Spain and I'm going back again. Is there something you wanted to know? There are lots of people on the board who have been, as well.

And to respond to your other topic, I have read two RS books and have never taken them with me or used them for hotel recommendations. This IS the Rick Steves website, though, which is why many people here refer to them a lot. (And it doesn't make sense that the hotels would get a "kick-back" from him -- it would be the other way around, if anything.) Don't be so quick to lump everyone together. Just because we like this helpline doesn't mean that we are all the same.

Posted by
240 posts

Thanks Maryann! I don't think I am the devil here by what I am saying, it's just when I read some posts and people get upset with the RS book becuase it was not to THEIR liking..the question RS and why he even put it in his book. I find it amazing how everyone complains that things cost so much in Europe..well then why are you going there...what did you think..that it would be less? How can Europeans live within their means and just enjoy life and others around the world are amazed at the prices. I have noticed over the years that europeans are not wasteful, thus the give us smaller portions in a restaurant..they use the entire rabbit when cooking...most are healthy and not too many are overweight..there are not drunks in the street...

I guess I should watch what I am saying or everyone WILL think I am the she-devil!

Posted by
240 posts

Yes Nancy I understand that people on this site DO go to Spain, but you never see anyone asking to many questions..because for the most part it is more expensive for Americans to fly to Spain that to UK,Italy or France. There are more airline specials for those countries.

Yes, I am going to Spain for a month. I plan to explore without RS and see for myself what is out there that you never hear about. Yes, I plan to SHOP alot!! I go to Europe every two years..and I shop until I drop. I work hard for two years..save alot, and now I can spend the hard earned cash!!

I will post my finding on this site.

All the RS shows on TV are from 2003..so it's rather hard for me to watch a program with a "world traveler" who is out of touch with what that particular area is like at the present date. I am sure he has enough staff to send someone to film a short 1/2 hour program once a year!

Posted by
24 posts

We are heading to Spain & Portugal for two weeks this Wednesday with our 8yr. old. We did start our research with the RS books, but found that the DK Eyewitness books on Spain & Portugal have much more detail in them. There is alot of info on the web about these countries, but I have to say the help I have received from people who post on this site has been tremendous. Also, the Maribel guides are good, and if you have a question, they will actually e-mail you a personal response!

Posted by
240 posts

I guess it's not really a back pack, but a day pack that he holds over one shoulder.
I know he is not too old, but I would like to see his children do a TV program for young adults traveling around the world and get a different prospective. Or maybe his wife could do a show with her girlfriends.
I am sure it seems like I am bashing on RS, but I am not. I want his shows on TV is be more updated. I want to read more about each country. I don't want to hear just about Italy and France

Posted by
160 posts

Although I don't consider myself a slavish devotee of Rick, I have certainly benefitted from his travel advice, guides, and equipment during my three trips to Europe (particularly in Scandinavia). So I have to give him props for that in his defense.

Even so, if you want to take a non-Steves trip to Spain, I recommend walking one of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage paths. IMHO, it's one of the ultimate bargain vacation/cultural immersion trips one can do in Spain. No one cares what you wear, most folks stay in co-ed hostel-type accomodations, backpacks are standard issue, and you'll lose weight no matter how much Spanish wine and cuisine you eat (hehe).

Tens of thousands of folks from all over the world walk the trails for various religious and secular reasons: to rethink life, to experience the culture up close, or simply as a healthy and inexpensive holiday. And despite a mention of the trek in his Spanish guidebook, Rick is certainly not an authority on the Camino. There are many better resources for the trek, such as the John Brierley and Confraternity of St. James' guides. Or, you can simply wing it - it's up to you.

Posted by
6788 posts

Wrong marketing deomographic, Erik.

She travels to Europe to go shopping and look chic. Are there any good shoe boutiques along that Santiago camino thing?

Of course, the reason Americans have a bad rap with Europeans is because of the way they dress - pants from REI?! Oh the humanity!

Posted by
160 posts

Well, I certainly wore a lot of REI gear on the Camino because it is primarily an outdoor endeavor that required that sort of outfitting. And the Europeans I saw wore stuff from their REI-equivalent, so we were of one accord.

The trek goes through a number of major cities, so zapaterias are quite plentiful for shoe-lovers and those needing boot repairs or a pair of el cheapo sandals (as I did).

Once I finished the Camino, I headed to Paris. When I got there, I cleaned up my act, hit the Gap for a pair of jeans, bought a pair of Mephistos from a small shoe store on the Rue Cler (yes, Rick's advice came in handy once again), and presto, people starting speaking French to me before they realized I was a mere American (heh).

Anyway, I've found that respecting the culture via politeness and learning some of the local lingo & customs covers a multitude of sins - including fashion-related ones.

Posted by
9363 posts

Jackie, have you checked out the DVD section of this website? All of the DVDs, from the first up to 2007, are available there. There is a new season every year (they didn't stop in 2003, no matter what your local station thinks), and they cover lots of countries, including Spain. Maybe you should take a look before you criticize.

Posted by
3580 posts

In the Travelers' Helpline part of the Graffiti Wall there is a section labelled "To the West." That is where Q/A about Spain end up. To focus your search for Spain info, go there. I've been to Spain recently and loved it. The RS book was very helpful for the the details of traveling.

Posted by
240 posts

What I am trying to say, as it would be nice to have available some sections or dvd's from the younger generation (25 and under) so that those of us that want to bring our teenagers to Europe..they could hear it from someone their own age. Or maybe a show just featuring women and how and where they travel. Even though many don't like Samantha Brown..she gives you a woman's perspective on traveling

Posted by
3255 posts

I admit I get defensive when someone criticizes me for relying on Rick Steves for travel advice. I don't have the luxury of traveling for a month at a time so I need to focus and maximize my time rather than wander around trying to find a place to stay or find the best a city has to offer. I rely on Rick's advice for hotels because he uses the criteria to judge a hotel that's important to me--near the city center, close to public transportation, clean, and reasonably priced. I also supplement with other guidebooks. I believe the Rough Guides are more focused for the under-25 crowd and Lonely Planet has TV shows with younger hosts. I've enjoyed traveling all over Spain and would be happy to answer specific questions.

Posted by
6788 posts

Me! Me!! ME!!!
I demand exactly what I want! I want it NOW! I want a PONY!!! NOW!!!

Sense of entitlement a little bit?

Posted by
9363 posts

LOL!! David

Bottom line, Jackie, is that this is Rick Steves' website. If you don't like what's available here, there are lots of other places to get information.

Posted by
6788 posts

In my experience, most Europeans couldn't care less what visiting tourists wear. They know exactly who we are, and those of us who like to think we can "pass" for locals are probably kidding ourselves.

If we want to leave Europeans with a better impression of ourselves, never mind what your shoes look like, just stop screaming at each other - and at the locals - in English. Stop demanding that you be the center of their universe. Stop expecting everyone else to speak perfect English for you. Learn a few basics of the local language. Find out what's expected as "polite" civilized behavior and practice a few of those small courtesies. And recognize that at least SOME of the resentment that Americans abroad sometimes feel is caused by things that our government does rather than whether or not your pants are "chic".

Posted by
240 posts

Sorry to have hit a sore subject with everyone. Yes, this site does belong to RS!

It be nice to have a guide for those that are going all over the world as students..where to go when you are not old enough to get into a "club", how to use that student card...what are the best hostels...how to stay out of trouble! Look what happened to the Knox girl from University of Washington!

Please look at the WEST section, and there are not many questions regarding Spain..and that was my first question wondering why?

And to all those that think I only go to Europe to shop...well you are wrong! I have family in Italy and they visit here to! I have never been mistaken for an American tourist..I speak fluent Italian..I am always polite to the "tourists" that can't understand the shop keeper and help them with the language barrier..

Ciao i miei amici ed hanno un viaggio piacevole!

Posted by
9363 posts

I've never heard of that Knox girl from University of Washington, but there are lots of websites and guidebooks that cater to the younger crowd. It's just not the demographic that RS wants to attract, which is why you don't find that stuff here.

You can't really assume that people don't ask questions because they aren't going there. Maybe they already found out what they need to know. RS doesn't cover much of Spain at all, so anyone looking for detailed information might be looking elsewhere.

And if people think you go to Europe just to shop, perhaps it's because you said: "Yes, I plan to SHOP alot!! I go to Europe every two years..and I shop until I drop. I work hard for two years..save alot, and now I can spend the hard earned cash!!" That sounds like shopping to me.

Posted by
3 posts

We ended up in a wonderful home in Cinque Terra because the woman saw us getting off the train with a Rick Steves book in hand. And have had equally good experiences with families in Florence and Venice. You don't have to look like a tourist if you don't wish, but being a friendly, interested tourist has never been bad for me.

Posted by
3255 posts

I've never met anyone in Europe with a Rick Steves book that I didn't enjoy talking to and comparing travel notes!

Posted by
6788 posts

The reference was to a young woman from the University of Washington who was studying in Italy. She was arrested for murder last year and is currently incarcerated there. I don't recall all the sordid details, but from what's been reported locally, she was (allegedly) involved in some sort of romantic triangle that included some fairly kinky and violent activities.

I would suggest that the take-away for exchange students ought to be along the lines of "try not to get involved in violent sex parties with people you don't know well when you're overseas" but others are free to draw their own consclusions (some folks complain that the Italian justice system is just plain unfair to American college students). I'm in no position to judge which is more accurate. But I'm not sure that there are any additional that advice Rick could offer (beyond the common sense advice he already gives) would have helped this young woman avoid ending up in an Italian jail, given some of the other choices she apparently made.

Posted by
3255 posts

Rick's children (Andy and Jackie)_have written travel blogs on this site--I think that other teens would find reading them interesting and helpful.

Posted by
1455 posts

Jackie, ouch aren't you rather harsh??
Sure there was life before Rick Steves, but you chose to check out this web site.

I like Ricks' way of traveling. Low key, comfortable and budget. This web site is great for meeting people from all over the globe, giving me tips I would have never considered!

As for Spain, its not one of the bigger popular destinations, but I found a wealth of information when I went 2 years ago (from Rick and Rick fans) and also with www.maribelsguides.com.

No one is asking you to follow Rick's book to the letter. These are mere suggestions if you need a way to head to.

As for traveling with younger people, there's been plenty of posts. Just "search" the box.

And lastly Rick does his own filming. He has a 3 person crew and he documented his trip on a PBS special. Some of the people in his TV broadcast are fans he's met on the road.

If you feel the tv show is 5 years old, perhaps donate some money to your local PBS station and ask them for the new footage?

Posted by
3580 posts

Jackie, If you have suggestions for improving this website I suggest you contact the webmaster, or go to "contact us" below. There is a series of guidebooks aimed at the younger traveler, it is the "Let's Go" series of books for general europe and the specific countries. I use them for budget lodging. They also have more info on nightlife.

Posted by
934 posts

I think that if you want to knock Rick go to Fodors they do it better.This Steves website and most of us like it.

Posted by
1455 posts

Hey guess what all?? thanks to Jackie's advise, I went and got myself an Eddie Bauer backback. I figure since I talk like an American, spend money like an American, I might as well look like a geekie American with my pack.

WOOHOO!! Europe, here I come.

Posted by
240 posts

OK,I get it!! I WILL NOT voice my opinion again!!

So, I wish all of you a wonderful time on any trip that you take!

Again, sorry to have hit a nerve!

Ciao for now!

Posted by
283 posts

I really enjoy Rick's books. By reading them, I get a real sense of where I am going, how to get where I am going, hours, etc.

I do second the idea not to stay in his recommended hotels. Rue Cler has turned into Rick Steves Central--way too many Americans for me.

We were in Kings Cross in London one year and went to a pub across from the tube station. There were four other couples in there, all referring to the RS London book. Really opened my eyes.

Last year we went to a part of France covered lightly in the book--only Verdun and Reims were there, but we stayed on the Belgium border in Floing. It was really traveling without a guidebook and we loved it!