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Met Rick in Lucerne!

I have to tell this story, which you may have seen mentioned by Rick in his blog a few days ago. I had just finished the self guided walk of Lucerne in Rick's book on Switzerland. It read something like, "your walk is over. Now take in this classic view of Lucerne". I was standing by the Chapel Bridge. I pry my nose out of the book and this guy with a beard passes by, does a double take, stops, and is looking at my book. He smiles and suddenly I realize who it is. "I don't believe it", I said. After years and years (first trip was in 2001) of literally following in Rick's footsteps (dilligently I might add), I finally bump into him! He was busy updating his book and we compared notes and then had a great chat. He asked me where I'd been so far (I was on a 4 week trip of Switzerland) and where I was going and my opinion of some of the places. I was honest with him. I told him that I always stick to one country at a time for a month and follow his route. He asked if I always travel solo and I told him, "No, I travel with you"... holding up the book. He got a kick out of that. We walked around a while and traded stories. And then he took a couple of pictures of us because I didn't have my camera with me at the time. And he offered to email them to me. Which he did, that same evening. Amazing! At the time I was still a bit jet lagged and grumpy at the weather. Turns out, reading Rick's blog, that he was a bit down as well and hearing my feedback about his books made him feel like someone out there is getting it. One thing I tried to get across to him is that I have tried to apply his "backdoor" philosophy beyond the guide books. For example, after following his suggested route on my first trip in the UK, I went back a couple of years later and made my own itinerary plugging in small towns (like outside Dartmoor). As he says, he is a teacher not just a guide. This is what sets him apart, I think, from other guidebook authors. Anyway, it really was a great pleasure spending some time with him and having the opportunity to thank him for all the wonderful experiences I've had over the last 17 years. The guy is tops!

Posted by
6859 posts

Don, I have to tell you that when I see titles like this the first thing that comes to mind is "oh, you name dropper", and I don't always read those posts. But I enjoyed your story a lot and I'm glad that you got to meet him after years of traveling with 'him' by book proxy. I have met him also and although he was quite busy at the time he was very gracious and generous with his time and spent about 15 mins chatting with me and my companions.

Posted by
4323 posts

What a wonderful story. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Posted by
985 posts

How cool is that? I'm glad he was generous with his time (and you also) and that you were able to enjoy and share stories with each other. That would have made my day!

Posted by
2249 posts

Awww.....what a nice story. I, too, thank you for sharing. He has always come across to me as a generous and honest stand up kind of guy. And you are right, he's more a teacher than a guide book writer.

Posted by
22892 posts

Years ago we crossed paths in the waiting area of the Omaha airport. He had just finished a visit with the local PBS for a fund raiser. We flew on the same little plane to Denver but were seated far apart.

Posted by
3403 posts

Wow, talk about a great story. I never ran into Rick, but I did run into one of his tour groups. We were staying at a Rick recommended hotel in Prague a few years ago and when we checked in they asked if we were with the tour group. The hotel had an outdoor patio and we were outside having a drink, trying ever so politely to eavesdrop. I didn't get up the nerve to introduce myself and say hello, wish I had. If the opportunity ever arises again I definitely will. This is about as close as I ever got to Rick.

Just read the blog, great picture.

Posted by
1353 posts

Fun story Don. Thanks for sharing! Sounds like you've had some great travels!

I just missed him once - in Halstatt. Came down for breakfast at our B and B and the proprietor told us we had just missed him (I hadn't realized he was there in the first place).

Posted by
208 posts

What a delightful story! I love your line about travelling with him. I bet that will make your meeting particularly memorable for him, too!

Posted by
8947 posts

Don, that IS a fun story. Sounds like you both gave each other a boost. As can happen when you travel solo and run into someone with whom you make a connection - famous guide book author or not!

I like your emphasis on him as a teacher. This is what too many people forget, but to me it is his real gift, that he shares knowledge with people that empowers them to take on journeys they probably wouldn't do otherwise.

Gonna go check out his blog post now!

Posted by
1503 posts

Don, I read your post a few hours after reading Rick's blog post about you. How wonderful not only to have met him but to have made an impression.

Barbara, we inadvertently crashed an RS tour breakfast in Madrid last year. A good advertisement for his tours - everyone was so happy and friendly with each other. Incidentally we weren't the only ones. A number of people found their way into the wrong breakfast room (despite the little handmade sign!).

Posted by
38 posts

Nice story Don. I briefly met Rick in 2009. We were in Hagia Sophia in Istanbul and my wife spotted him. I had to go over and say hi like a giddy teenager. Talked to him for just a minute or two and showed him my Rick Steves Istanbul guidebook which made him smile.

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2677 posts

Years ago we were at the alumni reunion in Edmonds. We are hanging around outside the lecture hall waiting to enter for Rick's presentation, and are pretty much by ourselves. Can't recall everything exactly but up walks Rick! Wow, is he tall! Never got that from TV. Thanked him for all our memorable tours and said something like "we are looking forward to hearing what you have to say". He replied "me too!"

Posted by
3903 posts

Don, do you have a link for the blog he wrote that you mentioned? I'd love to read it. Thanks.

Posted by
293 posts

oh boy! Fun! And I have actually met two couples in our small Central Valley Town who have been on the last two of his tours ! Small World!

Posted by
838 posts

A wonderful event for both of you. It must be especially gratifying to realize your admiration of our travel guru is only enhanced by a personal interaction. Sad to say, that is something of a rarity. To coin a phrase.... "Keep on Traveling".

Posted by
148 posts

Hey thanks for all the great responses. Yes, it was very gratifying indeed, especially since, like many of you, I've had some near misses over the years. I told my barber the story and he said he would love a chance to say thanks to Rick for all the great tips over the years. I think that's the thing... you follow this guy's advice and it works out and you just want to say thanks. Those books of his really are superb for anyone going to a particular country for the first time. My goal is to some day go back to all the places I've been and explore further. Rick told me his goal was to get people to go back on their own after taking one of his tours. With his books, and some careful planning, you can do just that, quite easily.
I want to tell you one more story: After my very first trip...2001 UK... with Rick's Best of Britain book... I followed his entire route (adding Liverpool cause I'm a Beatle freak). I went by myself and I was a bit nervous about it. On the way home, on the plane, I thought to myself: "Wow, that worked out perfectly. I followed this guy's recipe and the trip was just great... nothing went wrong". Just then the pilot announced that we were turning back to Heathrow. It was September 11th.

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1187 posts

A little over a year ago, on the occasion of my birthday, my son and d-in-l bought me two pricey tickets to a fundraising dinner for our local PBS station at a very fine New Orleans restaurant. Rick was the featured speaker, donating (I understand) his time and speaking as a way of supporting our station, as he was also going to be in town to speak at a teachers' convention. During the evening, Rick made the rounds of every table, took a group photo with the people at every table, and met and spoke with every person there, with great joy and exuberance, and also spoke and answered questions long past the 9:00 pm hour at which he was scheduled to leave. But what made such an impression on me was how much time he spent in the back hallway with the waitstaff. He took individual photos with them, shared heartfelt hugs with them, and had some long conversations with them, away from the eyes and ears of (most of) the high-paying ticket-holders. Giving extra time and care to the restaurant waitstaff was not on the PBS station's agenda, I'm betting, but that was clearly a priority for him, personally. Of all the years I've watched him on TV, and used his books and this website for unsurpassable travel help, that observation has told me more about the man he is than anything else has.

Posted by
362 posts

Oh, that's so cool! Thank you for sharing your story!

While I have never met Rick Steves in person, I have to confess that watching his programs gave me the strength to believe that I, too, could be a great traveler. I'm not there yet, but I feel that I'm on my way. And that is in no small part due to RS and his travel philosophies!

Posted by
442 posts

What a great story! We watched a lot of RS videos before our trip to Italy and the kids always talked about how cool it would be to see Rick in Cinque Terre or Florence. I think they had their eyes open for him :) I love knowing that some of us do actually run into him and have a fun experience with him.

Posted by
2424 posts

Thanks for sharing your story - plus, the additional one about flying home from Heathrow on 9/11!! To follow up on that, how long did you stay in London before you were allowed to come home? Where did you stay, etc.? I, too, admire Rick and would be excited to meet him someday as he has enriched my travels over the years. I have done some independent trips with his guidebooks and taken 5 of his tours, all fantastic experiences.

Posted by
19 posts

What a great story! Rick has helped me make the most out of our vacations for years now, starting with when my (now) husband and I got married in Italy in 2004. We've never run into him, but we've had some great moments with both some of the folks he's recommended as well as other "Steves-heads" we've met along the way. He's given us the tools for making some truly incredible memories!