Rick Steves’ European Travel Tips and Tricks
Hi. I'm Rick Steves in this special program I'll share, practical, money-saving. Experience. Enhancing, lessons I've learned from a lifetime of travel in this, talk I'll share tips and tricks on stretching, your travel dollar avoiding crowds. Eating and, sleeping well packing. Smart and much, more, after, spending a third of my adult life living out of a carry-on the air plane size bag in Europe I know exactly. How you can enjoy maximum travel thrills, for every mile, minute and dollar on your, next vacation thanks. So much for joining us. I. Have. A I. Have a sense we have some eager travelers, here and. What I'm so excited about is sharing with you the lessons I've learned from a lifetime of traveling. Through Europe how. Many of you have been to Europe before let, me see a show of hands here, well-traveled. Crowd and you're, here for learning more information who's, got a trip coming up they actually planning for in the next 10, or 15 years anybody. Two. Weeks all right well, I've learned so, much that, you can learn from other people's experiences, and have, a much better trip now, I've spent a good part of my life I would say third. Of my adult life four, months a year since I was a kid living, out of a, small, bag hanging, out with other people. Experiencing. Europe and right, from the start it occurred to me that I just, love, European, travel and I also love, teaching it what, I'm excited about today, is, sharing with you the fundamental. Skills so you can do this yourself and my TV shows I have an ethic where we never film anything that our viewers can't do themselves, I just, love the thought that anybody, can travel this way if they can just expect, themselves, to be traveling smart, now, I'm in Europe for four months out of the year every year for the last 30 years April. And May in the Mediterranean, then I go home and June and then I go back to July and August north of the Alps it just makes sense when you're traveling, to think, about the climate think about the crowds if you're in the Mediterranean, it's very hot and crowded in the summer do, it in the spring or fall if. You're going north of the Alps Scandinavia. Britain and Ireland frankly. I want crowds you want crowds there you want good weather you want long days I would, go in July, and August now. When I'm in Europe I'm out there most, of the time on my own unless I'm filming or leading one of our tours usually I'm on my own researching. And my. Whole idea is to make mistakes. Take. Careful notes learn, from those mistakes when, I get ripped off I celebrate. Because they don't know who they just ripped off I'm, gonna learn that scam and. I'm gonna take it home and tell everybody about it so I, just think it's so important because your trip is important, there's, a huge investment of time and money and. You can go over there tomorrow without any planning and have a reasonable time but you can have the trip of a lifetime so, we've been working really hard we written guidebooks, for every country in Europe and so on but, today what I want to do is distill the lessons of a lifetime, of traveling in Europe into one, packed.
Hour With, all sorts, of practical. Skills so, you can learn from my experience, and enjoy, maximum, travel, thrills for every mile, minute and dollar on your next, vacation so, thank you so much for being here and our. Talk is gonna cover trip, planning packing. Safety. Communication. Transportation. Eating, sleeping end very important avoiding. Crowds, right. Off the bat something, really important, is planning. The. More you plan the. Better you can use your time over there and planning, is a fun dimension of the whole experience get into the mood of your trip ahead of time recreational. Reading recreational. Movie-going or, their friends anybody who's been to your blogs to show their photographs I mean you're a chance for them to show off learn, from people and think, about the style of trip you want to have I've, learned there's some very fundamental. Elements. Of travel, that that. Carbonate, the experience, most importantly, people, if you're, not meeting people, in your travels it's going to be a flat, kind of experience, you're gonna see cultural cliches on stage you're. Gonna go to dead buildings and you're gonna go back to the hotel and wonder, is there good Wi-Fi you know you've, gotta just get out there and meet the people when I'm leading. A tour making. A TV show researching. A guidebook or even on my own vacation I mark, the quality, of the experiences. I'm putting together by how many real people, are my travelers meeting when, I'm in Spain in a little in a little you, know bar, or cafe I've, set right up at the barn, meet this guy he'll, speak English and he'll be eager to explain to me what's, in that plate of peppers, this, is pimento, de padrone and in Spain it's like Russian, Roulette for your taste but it's one of them is very hot. And. If you don't talk to the people you don't know what's going on, experiences. That's the other thing I've noticed these days when we're selling tours and selling guidebooks and so on people are looking for experiences, they've seen the buildings they want to roll up their sleeves and get, their fingers dirty in that local culture.
You Can do that too but your added hood has to be if something comes to you as an experience, even if it's out of your comfort zone the answer is yes would. You like some, escargot, what's. The answer at. Least one as. A. Tour guide I'm, just doing, a lousy job if I have a group in France and everybody, doesn't try at least one escargot, so here we have a dozen escargot, you got a family of four don't, make everybody eat a whole plate but, buy a plate and let's, let's all try it you'd be surprised, how many things you will enjoy that you didn't think you would enjoy there, are experiences, all, over the place that really distinguish. A good, trip, the, other thing that's important, is where, are you going to go you're. Gonna go to the famous places that's fine but, find, places that have no promotional, budgets places. That are just going through another century, there, are amazing, hill, towns I just love the hill towns in Italy now this place is called chavita, de bunny regio can you imagine walking up that donkey path oh my, goodness it just never gets old now, all over, Europe you can find these places that are somehow keeping, their heads above, the flood of the 20th century and that's your challenge when you do your planning don't, just go to the most promoted, places, find, places that have missed the modern boat now, when we look at a town like this this is in the Cinque with Daddy my favorite town and my favorite stretch of the Italian Riviera vernazza. When we look at this town I want you to recognize there's no modern buildings there right it's, a national park nobody, is allowed to change any of their buildings this, is pure, old-world. Italy, and when, you go there you're, gonna find that there are no comfortable. Hotels. This. Is very good news because it. Keeps it keeps away the most obnoxious slice. Of the traveling public people. Who, insist on comfortable hotels there over in Portofino complaining, about traffic jams and and you know bad prices and mean service and while, you're here surrounded. By vineyards gazing. Out at the twinkling Mediterranean, enjoying, wine that was made right there outside of the village if you can put up with the funky little bed-and-breakfast, here you've got Italy in your laps this is fundamental, this is what I call going through the back door now, I've showed you some little towns and little, towns can fall through the cracks and be exciting and you want to weave those into your itinerary of course you need to see the big famous things too and, but. If all I had to talk about was the Acropolis, I'd really have no business gathering. Us all together today we, know to see that I would recommend when you do go to a place like the crop list you should anticipate, crowds, how are you going to enjoy it without the crowds when I look at this slide it comes with a soundtrack because, it seems like whenever I go to the Acropolis, I hear, the whistle. Of the guard saying. Monsieur. Monsieur mr. get away we're closed now you have to go I'm the last one on that, hill and there, is nobody there but me and the wonders of the Parthenon, and vast. Views, of Athens and the Setting Sun that's. A great experience, there are no crowds when you come early or when, you go late also. You're gonna see famous sites like the windmills and the wooden shoes of course when you go to Holland but when you go there understand, what it's all about everybody's, gonna see a wooden bell climb up that windmill and feel the oak beams. Creaking as the wind turns those sails and then, check, out that Archimedes, screw in the foreground and imagine. Centuries, ago the innovation, when the Dutch people harnessed, the wind to, turn the Archimedes, screw to, pump the water from the lowlands, over the dike and reclaim. That land and create their country you see you don't need to be a scholar but that little bit of information helps, you really. Get excited about what you're looking at now. I've showed you little towns I want, to remind you there's a lot of big towns that are very touristy and you're gonna go to them because you got to go to Salzburg when you're in Austria don't, go to touristy, places and complain about the tourist routes.
Go. To touristy, places and celebrate, the tourists enos of it it's fun I love mode I love Salzburg, it's Mozart town, it's Julie Andrews it's Sound of Music but, so many people go to Salzburg complain. About the crowds and the next, morning they sign up on the sound of music bus tour. They're. Gonna be rolling through the foothills of the Alps with 40 Japanese, and American tourists singing no I dare complaining, about the tourist crowds you put yourself, into the most touristy, possible, thing and you, wonder why it's touristy, so, we are tourists, you know we want to do the lonely goatherd when we're there, do. That have fun but complement. That touristy, experience, with something just two hours away go, south into the mouth find a cute little village bullied onto a ledge between a mountain in a lake and commune. With nature with, local Austrians, this happens to be a town called Hallstatt I just absolutely love hallstatt, big. Cities, with, great art lots, of culture, in lots of sightseeing they're gonna be crowded, and touristy, we, don't veto it just because it's got tourist cars but we think of enjoying it in a way that minimizes those, tourist crowds Toledo. A great example Toledo. Is the historic, spiritual, and artistic capital. Of Spain the, modern capital is Madrid. About an hour to the north now, when you go to Toledo in the middle of the day it's going to be mobbed with tourists but at night the, tourists, retreat one hour north to the predictable, plumbing of their high-rise hotels, the. Locals have made their money they push their postcard racks away and they come out very relaxed. Ready to do their paseo thing el, greco, would recognize his hometown. Of toledo after. Dark so what, we want to do is be, there after dark be, there early be there late plan, your sightseeing, so when you're in touristy areas avoid. That 10 o'clock to four o'clock tour group, mob time okay that's, when the cruise groups come in that's, when the big bus groups come in and so on all over Europe we, can find touristy. Places are all ours if we get up early and stay out late they're just much more atmospheric, that way if you go to Germany I'm. Sure you're gonna go to rothenburg under Talbert, it's the best medieval, walled town in Germany during, the middle of the day mobbed, with tour groups coming in from Frankfurt, and Munich probably, the greatest concentration of tourists anywhere, you.
Know Shopping those cobbled, lanes and cute little Rothenburg, but at night they're back in the big cities the, local people are out and relaxed, the ramparts, are floodlit, and it's, you with this delightful. Little remnant of feudal, Germany spend the night and be out and about, Venice. Another good example, Venice. Is mobbed, with tourists in fact one reason I think Venice is sinking it, because it just wasn't built, to support all those tourist crowds but. I would. Say the vast majority of the people tourists in Venice which by the way it's just a small town of 60,000, people in undated, with far more tourists every day it's rush hour they come in and they go out in the morning the boats coming in are packed with tourists and the buses boats going out are empty at night it flip-flops, everybody's going out the, tour group stay on the mainland, ten miles inland, where, tour organizers, can get cheaper hotels where, they're all cookie cutters square and modern so there's no complaints, and where they're stuck in the middle of nowhere so. The tour can sell you the optional, sightseeing tour to get into Venice do you see what I mean everything. Encourages. Tour organizers, to not pay extra, for funky hotels where the elevators don't work and down down because, it cost too much they get more complaints, and people, can step out the door and be in Venice without, having to pay extra for the guided tour do. You see what I mean if you're on an organized tour so you know read the tourist information they're gonna say you're gonna sleep in the Venice area, that. Could be halfway to Bologna all right. Now. I'm a sucker for the old medieval stuff I love it and I can see half timbered villages, and thatched roofs and ruined castles tell the cows some woman think I'd had a great time but I am mindful, of the fact that Germany, is not sitting. On a stump wearing, lederhosen and, yodeling, much. As I'd like it to be Germany. Is a no-nonsense lean, and mean business, machine it's. The size of Montana with. It roughly one quarter of our population and, one quarter of our gross national product, I mean it is a lean, and mean business, machine and, we, ought to ourselves to go to a no-nonsense, German. City just to feel the pulse of today's urban Germany, this, you, know this is Berlin Berlin, is an amazing, city it's the most changed city in Europe a generation. To go if you walked across this street they would shoot you because that was the Berlin Wall today, there's no hint of the Berlin Wall just a pipe in the pavement an American. Tourist going hey I'm in the eastern the West at the same time where's checkpoint charlie you, know well. That's fun but today's Germany is looking forward and we owe it to ourselves especially. With all the challenges we have today in our country to see how other societies, are organizing, their urban world it's quite inspirational. When. We plan our itinerary, and this is really fun you've got options and it's really important for you to be engaged and. Proactive, and not just going to the cliches here's a good example a lot, of people when they're thinking about Germany, they want to go to castles, if you think Germany, castles, what River comes to mind the, Rhine okay, the Rhine River it's got all those famous castles your, image, of the Rhine on, the other hand I think is the little sister of the Rhine the, Mosel mo SEO this is the Mosel here it's winding it's got, vineyards. It's got half-timbered villages, it's got ruined castles, galore and it doesn't have all the traffic and the noise and the industry, the, Rhine is exciting, but it's muscular, and if you want a sleepy, little laid-back version, of the Rhine the Mosel, it's not as highly promoted as the Rhine it's worth knowing about and on the Mosel you will find my favorite castle anywhere in Germany burg, eltz II LTZ. Now, when, we look at burg. Eltz. We're. Looking at feudalism, 700. Years old built, when Germany the size of Montana was. Two, or three hundred independent. Little petty fiefdom. Dukedoms, kingdoms. And so on each with its own pride, its, own dialect, its own weights and measures its own wall and kircheis okay and there's, so much diversity in feudal Europe and in so much quirky, history to see we. Need to understand. What feudalism, is before, we go to this castle if, you step into that castle and know just the basics, of feudalism this, castle, will be a much more interesting experience, happens. To be the best castle interior anywhere, in Germany. Now, this castle is an altogether different slice of the German story of castle. Architecture, and so on this, is romantic. Built in the late 1900s. For. Four or five trips I remember going to neuschwanstein. Popularly. Known as mad Ludwig's, castle thinking. It's medieval, I mean.
It's It's, pointy, I. Really. Thought anything that was pointy was medieval, and then, I realized that the pointiest, stuff is actually. Faux, medieval, over-the-top. Medieval, neo, medieval, have you heard neo gothic neo, Romanesque, and so on and that's all from the late 1800s. If you think about the pointiest stuff in europe the pointy church, on the main square in Prague you guys have been there. The, pointy, castle, in Segovia, the, pointy, pulse. Of parliament and Big Ben the pointy skyline in Bruges of course the pointy castle, of med King Ludwig and of area they're, all made, in the same generation, and that's the same generation, as the Eiffel Tower so. There is an example about that's called Romanticism. Mantas ISM is a romantic, response, to the intellectual. Movement of the, revolutionary, age the French Revolution and so on so I'm. Just reminding you you don't need to be a scholar but, if you know what romanticism. Is a third of your sightseeing, takes on meaning and I speak from experience I didn't know about that for a decade and I missed all sorts of understanding, before, your trip get a handle on this stuff one, of my favorite kinds of castles, is a ruined castle here, with a little imagination you're under attack thousand. Years ago in Portugal there. Are ruined castles, rotting away unnoticed all over, Europe from, Finland, to Portugal to Israel, and our. Challenge is to find these things I do want to remind you that free, things are not promoted, right. We're, all in the in the business it's tourism they want our money we're consumers, any, information, that comes to you is coming, to you with an agenda they. Want to sell you that stuff something, that's just free on them on a hilltop is going to be ignored from an advertising, point of view you. Owe it to your vacation to give the free things a fair consideration, as, well as the, paid commercial, ventures. Right now. When you walk down the Main Street in Amsterdam, you'll come to something that looks like a tourist information office, it's, not it's, a box office selling, highly commissionable, tacky. Commercial. Ventures as if they're important, museums. The. Clueless, naive. Hen. Party stag party business traveler, you know in Amsterdam for two days walk down damrak they're gonna see this time to go oh here's the things we got to do dear we're, gonna go to the Madame, Tussauds we're. Gonna go to the Body Works the ice bar the torture, dungeon and, the Heineken beer experience, we've seen Amsterdam. Well. That's fun stuff but it's quite expensive and.
You're Missing Anne Frank where's van Gogh where's Rembrandt, where's the Rijksmuseum, where's, the houseboat museum you know there is so much else to see that, our highbrow. National. Museums that don't have these gimmicky, promotional, budgets in your hotel lobby all those little Flyers, you see you, know it's worth looking at them but there are they pay good money to get there in order for you to go there because they want to make money off of you you, are consumers, they want your money you gotta, have a little, screen, as in information comes at you is this really, what I want to do on my vacation or is, this being effectively, advertised, because it's quite profitable. When. You are traveling, for us to step into these amazing buildings and be properly, wowed by them is so, exciting. And I, know as a tour guide for 25, years I was bringing people to these great sites and how. Much you bring with you determines, how much you get out of it you can step into the st. Peter's Basilica the, greatest Church on earth and you, can just kind of go yeah it's big or, like. I used to you can go this is disgusting, well who paid for all this stuff I mean. Part. Your Protestant sword, at the door. If. You're not a Roman Catholic become. One as you step into Saint Peter's Basilica it's. Somebody, it's some much nicer, experience I. Can as a good Lutheran I can tell you it doesn't work to be a Lutheran in st. Peter's okay now. You get into st. Peter's are you getting into any great thing and you're surrounded by art and symbolism, and meaning you. Go to st. Peter's Basilica you see this guy with a bushy beard in a big key everywhere. There's a guy with a bushy beard and a big key that's how we know st. Peter he has the keys to heaven and he's identified. By a big bushy beard it's, amazing to me how many people don't know that who is this guy with the bushy beard there's another guy he's got a big Tina bushy beard understand. And then you look up above and you see in the mosaic, you, are, Peter, and, upon. This rock, I will build my church why. Is the Bishop of Rome the, Pope it's. Because st. Peter was martyred there it was a Roman, chariot race course long before there was a church there and they, his followers took him up to a little cemetery buried him there are 300 years later the. Roman. Emperor becomes Christian and they can build a big Church around it and worship in the open and that was the beginning of the. The Pope in st. Peter's and the Vatican it's. Exciting, when you know a little bit about that and as a tour guide in a travel teacher it's really fun to have smart people steep, on the learning curve so, you don't need to get a lot out of your sightseeing but a lot of people are wondering about give. Me a budget tip here's. A budget tip know. More about what you're going to see and it's going to be twice, as rewarding, when you pay to see it when. We look at this this is the have you do you know about this the famous aqueduct, in southern. It's. Not really an aqueduct it's. The most scenic, bridge in a thirty mile long aqueduct. Built. Eighteen, hundred years ago by, the Romans engineered. So, that water would flow using. Gravity, instead of the sweat of peasants, into, the great city of Nimes, engineered. So the water drops one inch every, hundred yards for 30 miles, Wow. There's, a little tiny square River on the top of that that goes thirty, miles can. You imagine when, you go to after viewing, this go to neem and look at the end of this thirty mile long structure and imagine.
The Jubilation, on that day when water gushes, in to, neem oh we, got beat by Rome that was a drag but now we're on the winning team we got running water, hey. We. Got stability you, know we, got roads, try. To get just get. A sense of what you're looking at humanize. It when. You go to neem where that aqueduct, ends you can see the distribution well, where the water gushes, in you can actually see a little bit of economic, justice a social justice you can see the lowest pipes when there was not a lot of water would, go to power the life-giving Wells for the neighborhoods and then, the higher pipes when there is an abundance, of water would go to power the, decorative, fountains in rich people's courtyards, now, that's a dimension, to that that makes, it quite a lot more real and there's, that realism. All over the place as we travel thoughtfully, as sightseers. As tourists we need to know what our options are you're gonna see all the famous stuff of course but, if you want to see human bones you got to do a little studying a lot of people want to see human bones they go to the catacombs in Rome no bones and the catacombs are Rome you messed up you got another word Capuchin, the, capuchin monks buried their dead brothers, and a hundred, years later they, the, flesh is all gone it's just the bones and then they decorate. With the bones and you, can go into their crypt and see all these decorative, bone, works by the capuchins. Whatever. You're interested in do your studying, if you're really into French frys there's a museum for you if, you're really into, if you're really into the Olympics there's an amazing museum I was just at in Lausanne in Switzerland if, you're into marijuana there's a good museum for you if you're into the Beatles if you're in leprosy, you know you go to Bergen and you have a fascination with leprosy and you leave Bergen without knowing dr. Hanson's, Hospital, was right there, it's an amazing, thing, what, about art done by people who were locked up because they were considered criminally, insane it's. A fascinating Museum, you'll. See that if you know where to look as you're traveling around switch from them so do, your studying and make sure you know what are the odd quirk II museums that are top quality but. With a very narrow market, we've all got these interests, some of them that we don't even tell our friends about and you can see museums about the stuff in your travels, another. Trick I think very important is find a way to become, a temporary, local in so many ways, I mean. Imagine. A tailgate, party here, outside of a stadium, americana. That is if you were a European tourist you can do the same thing in Europe go to a soccer game I mean boy to go to a soccer game you really, feel the energy of it I was in Ireland, I went to a hurling match and it, was, enthusiastic.
Hurling Is like it's, a rough fast game it's like airborne, hockey with no injury timeouts, and I, learned. A lot of new ways to swear, in with an Irish accent, at that hurling match so you can find plenty of ways to connect with the locals by doing, things that locals, do the, obvious, thing is the evening. Stroll right in Spain, it's the Paseo in, Italy it's the pasta, jata I asked, when I check into a hotel journey where do people stroll, in the evening I want to be there take a siesta if you have to but be out strolling that's, where you feel the pulse of the local community in these cute little Italian, towns the, old man they've been strolling together for 40 years ever since they got out of school it's called the lapse the Bosca they, go open the parking lot down, to the beach, seeing, all their friends gossiping. And so on and back, up to the parking lot doing their laps it's just every tourist is welcome that's, where, it's happening you go to the main square in Salamanca, it's, the greatest scene in Spain the Paseo and early, in the evening all. The boys are going counterclockwise, all. The girls are going clockwise the. Old ladies who can't walk so well anymore they're up in the windows looking down just discussed, it and how trashy the girls are dressing this year I mean there's so much going on in the streets if you're there to enjoy it if you'd rather just sit and have a drink and watch the parade you can do that that's the aperitivo and, this. Is the most expensive square in Siena you'll compo and I, never. Forget spending, 45 minutes here after busy day of sightseeing I'm not a happy, hour kind of person normally but when I'm travelling. I like, to enjoy the scene spend. Too much for a cup of coffee or a drink cuz you're right there in the best real estate around and watch, the parade of life go by this, is uh this, is 11 euros, for two cocktails, and it comes with munchies, that's, yeah it's about a dollar a year or so a euros, roughly, a dollar 20 I like to just think of it as a dollar a euro it. Makes it more fun then I get home everything. Cost me 20 percent more than I thought but I really had a good time until then so you know roughly $1 a year Oh twelve twelve year olds six bucks per drink and I get this great show that's, good, travel, be. A cultural, chameleon, I'm really into this I love, to just morph. From one country to the next I don't ever think chocolate is to die for, unless. I'm in Belgium, and. Then chocolate is to die for and I go to the finest chocolate areas, and I talk to people and I savor it I have. Never gone home in Seattle where I live after a long day of work and thought you, know I feel like a nice glass of ouzo. Just. It's inconceivable, but everyday, when I'm in Greece on the Greek islands after, a long day the sun's going down I want. A new result I just, need a news oh that poor the water the beautiful cloudiness, oh your, little munchies, and you're. You're part, of the scene when. I'm in Prague the best beer, in Europe, whereas if you like a pilsner and. You just you just enjoy, the beer scene in Prague if I'm in Belgium for a beer I want that much, milkshake, he kind of monk made beer when, I'm in Tuscany, I want a good full-bodied. It's one of the few Italian words I know call raposo vino.
Rosso A full-bodied. Red wine so. Tea. Makes no sense at all to me I don't know when the lesson had tea and this hemisphere was but, when I'm in England a spot. Of tea yeah. Bob's. Your uncle all right so. Become. A temporary, local now, we have some exciting natural, wonders here in the United States. But. The great thing about Europe's natural wonders is they are so accessible. It's. An important part of your travels, she looks pretty rugged, but. She's not she. Rode the lift up for breakfast I'm standing on the edge of a revolving restaurant to take this photograph filled, with you. Know women, in high-heeled shoes who just rode the lift up for. The beautiful view and anybody. Can get to the top of the Alps and then you can walk along the ridge and that. Is so accessible, ride the lift up have breakfast, and then you can hike or frolic all the way across the Alps can you imagine tight-roping. On a rich I mean, actually. Tight-roping, on a ridge for three hours you didn't get sweaty you rode the lift up in its level on, one. Side you got lake stretching all the way to Germany on the, other side you got the most incredible Alpine, panorama, anywhere the Eiger Monch and Jungfrau. And. Ahead, of you hear the long legato. Tones, of an outpouring announcing that the helicopter, stocked mountain, hut is open it's just around the corner and the coffee schnapps is on. That's. Good, travel, anybody, can have it you don't even need to be a serious hiker do. Your studying get, up early it's nice and crisp and clear usually in the morning before it clouds up in the afternoon and as, you, are enjoying nature, you find plenty boys to eat. And sleep up there you'll. Come to mountain huts wherever there are mountains there are mountain, huts this, place happens to be in the most traditional part, of Switzerland. Appenzell. It specifically, Evan helped ebe. An ALP. Don't. Need to write it down you can you know you can get a guidebook that covers all of that that's what guidebooks, are for but. I love this place it's one of my favourite listings in my switzerland guidebook and when somebody has that information, they, know that this place is run by bene and Claudia, they. Know you can go milk the goats with the kids before dinner they, know that after dinner the Swiss hikers, loved to teach the American hikers how to play the spoons in the Oertel they. Brought their piano in by helicopter and don't, forget to check out the guest, book cuz German hikers and Swiss hikers have been doodling it since the 1960s. It's, just a beautiful experience it's, cheap it's, just rain water you're not gonna get much of a shower but, you're experiencing. Switzerland. You, see you can have those experiences you need good information that's. Critical if you're. Basing. Your trip on a borrowed, copy of some guidebook five years old you save twenty bucks on the guidebook but, you don't have up-to-date information you, won't know when, you're in Rome at the Victor Emmanuel Monument, the, building everybody loves to hate because it's relatively modern monstrosity on top of precious antiquities, that, you can right now that's been retrofitted in the back of it up to the top and for 10 bucks you can enjoy the greatest view in Rome 360. Degrees looking down on the forum and you don't have to look at the building you're standing on. Now. I show this slide because I want to remind you it's fun, to sort through your limited time your, unlimited interests, and come, up with a smart itinerary. It's. Beyond the scope of this talk but, if you look at this you can see here is a good example of an aggressive three, week look at the best of Europe this, is what I consider the best 3,000. Miles in three weeks in Europe it's open jaws that. Means flying into one sitting out of another city a lot of people just think you got to fly in and out of the same city it's been 10 years since I flew in and out of the same city start, in one spot and go to the other leave from the other spot you don't need to waste time and money getting back to where you started you're. Starting mild and working into more challenging, areas don't start in Italy start, in Holland, and then, Germany and then you work your way into Italy it finishes with a finale in Paris which makes a lot of sense you'll notice the numbers on there that's how many nights you'd spend in each stop of course this is fast travel, some people would scoff at that and say you got to stay at least four days but you got three weeks and you want to see it all and this is the best maximum, speed trip about I could design I would HIGHLY, advise against, one-night stands, minimize, one-night, stand that's where you get frenzied, and and it just becomes a kind.
Of A chore two, nights in a row that's, the minimum and you'll see on this itinerary it's. Mostly two nights in a row heavy, on Italy because Italy is my favorite country you. Can do that in three weeks if you, want to do now you gotta decide are you gonna take a tour or are you gonna go on your own no right or wrong answer for some people tours are great and for some people they should go on their own remember. Many. People take a tour because they are told they can't do it on their own you, know you can do it on your own anybody's smart enough to be here today has what it takes up here to be their own tour guide alright you've qualified but. A tour organizes. The hotels it, does the driving for you and so on and it can be a very good value but study, the tour and understand, that the standard, operating procedure for tours these days is to, give you a no profit price to. Get you on the bus and then, they pack it with 50 people on a 50 seat bus because the profit will be in the end and in, order to get that profit they've, got to sell you things, they got to keep you away from the town center to charge you to get in with the optional, sightseeing, tours the. Guide is generally, paid a token, wage sometimes, no wage at all and makes, the lion's share of his income selling, you things for kickbacks and angling, for tips getting. Tips selling. You sightseeing for, commissions, and taking, you shopping for kickbacks. That's not criminal, but as consumers, you should know what's going on here's. A tip you if. You don't want to do the driving and if you just want a bunch of low stress forgettable hotels all over organized, in advance take, the cheapest tour you can find bus tour that has an itinerary that you like and promise, yourself you will only think of it as a bus pass that, comes with hotels, it's. A no profit thing you're gonna be freeloading, on that tour company, alright. Equip. Yourself with a guidebook function. As an independent traveler, we're letting them do the driving and you've got your hotels and it's. Cheaper, than youth hostel really when you look at it carefully you'd, pay more just for the hotel room than you're paying for the whole day package, with the transportation, in the room included. I am. All about people going on their own I really, believe anybody who wants to be their own tour guide can but it's work you go to drive you got a park you got arrange the hotels and so on so, you got to do some studying on that my, whole work with my hundred workmates up in Seattle is to make these guidebooks, our guidebooks originated, as the handbooks for the tours that we lead I had, tourists before I had guidebooks and I had the handbooks laying around in my classes during, the breaks I'd hoped people would come through the book and liked what they see and take the tour time, and time again they, looked at the thumb through the handbook like what they see and they took the handbook. It. Occurred to me these little tour handbooks are driving decent, people to theft. They. Should be available for purchase so we, decided to write the guidebooks putting everything we knew about doing, the tours into, the guidebooks so people could literally buy, the book and do our tours without us the, point is there are a lot of good guidebooks and if you are just a good student and you pick the right guidebook and there's great guidebooks, for, different styles I mean I write guidebooks and other people write guidebooks that I have, huge respect for figure. Out what's your style of travel use, that guidebook and expect it to work and you will travel more smoothly I mean, putting a million tabs in it I think that's going overboard but, those, guidebooks, do make a big difference one. Thing I've put a lot of energy into late is creating, an app just.
Out Of my passion, for providing, guided, tours Rick, Steves out of Europe is absolutely, free you don't need my books or anything like that you just download, it and then you choose which tours you want and you listen to them offline when you're in Europe and when, you're there, right in the middle of whatever wonderful. This is the Ferrari Church in Venice. Or in the Sistine. Chapel, or in, the Pantheon tab, somebody, who's been there before sort. Through all the information and explain it to you and bring it to life rather than reading and looking up it's a beautiful thing remember. As you, travel when you equip yourself with information and expect. Yourself to travel smart you, will have a very, rewarding and economic. Experience. If. There's, one tip, that you take seriously that'll really help your travels I think it's the importance, of packing, light. You. Do, not have a packhorse. If. You do you're abusing your spouse. Now. I've been living, out of a nine by 22 by 14 is carrying the airplane sized suitcase for a third of my adult life and it's. No hardship, it's enlightened, if. I had Sherpas I would set them free. Think. About it you'll never meet anybody who after five five trips brags every, year I pack heavier, with. Experience you get serious about. The beauty of packing light in. Europe you'll find two kinds of travelers those who pack light and those who wish they packed light you're, gonna be wanting. To be mobile you, want to get up to that hill and stay in a beautiful little B&B with a view of the valley you're gonna have to get up there's there's there's no taxi that takes you there there, are good wheelie bags and there are fit travelers, that can get up there one. Of the realities of travel, almost any way you go you have to leave the hotel and get to your car get to the bus get to the train station, if you look at this you can see some, people have wheelie bags. Some. People carry their bags in their back but. Everybody's walking with their own gear all. Over Europe there are cities like Florence that have become traffic, free and you can no longer get the bus to the hotel it's. A blessing, that Florence is traffic free, but. The downside is you got to carry your bag for, blocks instead of parking right at the hotel so, that's just a reality today and when I look at the people struggling with their gear I wonder, how, can somebody need, so much stuff this. Is what I live out of for two months at a stretch nine. By 22, by 14 inches. It's a carry on the airplane sized bag I've got it right here and. This. Is my my. Home for a third of my adult life now there's all sorts of companies that make great bags this dimension, that's as big as you can carry onto an airplane this. Has a beautiful configuration. Of pockets compression, straps on the side I like it because it's got padded shoulder straps that can zip away so it can be a soft-sided, suitcase or, you, can reveal the padded shoulder straps and then you can wear it on your back I use. It exclusively as, a backpack. Now, the. Day will come when I'm not gonna be strong enough to carry it on my back and I will be wheeling my gear around Europe nothing wrong with that most, of the women in my office use wheelie bags a lot of the guys do for, the time being I'm still hanging it on my back but this is my home and the point is this, is your self-imposed, limit 9 by 22 by 14 inches as big as you can carry onto the airplane and you see a lot of people with these kind of bags there's many companies that make these bags and the. Squishy ones are nice from, an airplane point of view because you can almost always get it overhead I rarely, have to check my bag when I'm flying around here, are six, people who happen to be taking one of our tours and all, of them have the roller version, of the bag I just demonstrated, now for these people we took 20,000 people on our tours last year none, of them were allowed to take any more than a carry on the airplane sized bag on the tour nine by 22, by 14 inches, now, for a lot of them that was a radical concept what, 9 by 22 by 14 inches, that, was my cosmetics, kit no. That's everything this is tough love baby and we, talked about it I visit with them a week into the trip and I've been doing this for decades I've, never had anybody upset, with me for making them pack light, consider. This spread everything out on the living room floor with your travel partner before your trip look.
At Each item critically. Hold. It up ask yourself will I use this snorkel, and fins enough, to. Feel good about carry through, Europe not. Will I use it'll be fun on the beach in Greece but will you use it enough to feel good about carrying it through the Swiss Alps leave. It home all, right load, everything go, downtown walk around the block with your gear and see what it's like and then go home and get real you'll be thankful for that as, far as changing money goes it's easy these days you just have your debit card your credit card and use ATMs and you get money at the beautiful bank-to-bank rate, instead of the miserable choice to tolerate and most, of Europe has the same coins in their pocket 300 million people with the Euro I just love that you cross a border you still have the same money, so you, know changing money is not an issue these days. Safety. Is an, issue and when, we go to Europe I want to remind you we are targeted. By thieves, we, are targeted, by thieves thieves. Target Americans not because they're mean but because they're smart they know were the people with all the good stuff in our purses and in our wallets a, lot, of times a beggar will come up to you and ask for a year old, she's. Got a sad story she's got a beautiful baby she. Says euro she really wants your wallet, it, sounds kind of harsh but assume that the beggars are pickpockets, and begging is their front because. Tourists, are targeted, they hang out at the museums I know just where to watch the. Local street thieves pick in the pockets of the tourists all right when you're on a bus if you're on the bus that all the tourists are on there's. Gonna be pickpockets, there's a pickpocket right there I observed. Her for. 45 minutes in Lisbon, this last year eyeing. Different, victims and she makes her living by, grabbing, the bags or the wallets of sloppy people, so. You want to not. Be vulnerable, that means button it up zip it up or wear a money belt I really. Like a money belt when I'm travelling in fact I'm wearing one right now, have you noticed no. I even, forgot about it but, the. Money belt is the peace of mind let, me show you where I keep my money belt okay this is my money belt I've been wearing it all day I having thought about it and, when. I'm traveling and I, want to be safe this, is where I keep my essential, stuff my. Credit card my, passport, and so, on a related. Issue is when, it comes to safety is terrorism and a lot of Americans have a big concern about terrorism, when you go to Europe you're going to see some pretty serious security, in front of all the precious soft targets, I love. To see the army out these days jeeps and camouflage, soldiers, standing in front of the same st.. Francis Basilica, in Assisi and so on it's there and that's, for good now I really. Want to encourage you to. Not. Confuse, risk, and fear, here. In our country we're a very fearful nation right now it's. Charming to think that news is news but on commercial, media news. Is entertainment, masquerading. As news and if, it's all a crisis, they make more money in their ads and this is just amping up and we are the victims of that you. Remember when we first started traveling, people said bon voyage. Now. What do they say have. A safe trip we'll, pray for you are, you sure you want to go over there considering all that's happening, when. Somebody tells me have a safe trip I'm inclined to say well you have a safe stay at home. Because. Where I'm going, is safer, than where you're staying if you. Understood the statistics, and, I, know statistics, are optional these days but if you decided to understand, the statistics. And. You knew what those statistics were and if you care about your loved ones you would take them to Europe tomorrow, this. Is how I sell tours. We. Lose a thousand, people to homicides, every. Month in our country every month a thousand, people. In. Europe, 12 million Americans go, every year and 12 million come back if, one is killed tomorrow that's tragic but it doesn't mean make it scary, it doesn't, make it dangerous it's dangerous to stay here Europeans. Laugh out loud when, they hear that Americans, are staying home for safety reasons. Fear. Is for people who don't get out very much, the. Flipside of fear is understanding, and we gain understanding, when we travel and when, we travel we get to know the rest of the world we gain an empathy for the other 96% of humanity and we come home with that much better understanding, and that, makes. Us safer not staying home and building walls but, traveling, getting to know the, rest of the world and then coming home that's one reason I am committed, to keeping America, traveling thank, you for traveling. Rest. Assured in Europe they, are working very smart, on their security there, is a horrible, vehicle. That killed people on Westminster Bridge you go back now and there are barricades, that keep the vehicles off the sidewalk, to.
Bastille Days ago a horrible, van killed 80 people in. Nice on the promenade des anglais, today, there are these beefy. White Ballards, there that keep the vehicles up so people can walk, and bike safely, on their promenade, just, this year I was at Oktoberfest I, loved Oktoberfest. And like. The Palio like the running of the bowl is like anything you've got it cordoned off now with police and security that's. How you get into Oktoberfest, you have your baggage checked before you go inside and when you get inside this. Is German style security. At every intersection, in the fairground you've got a literal, circle of police keeping. An eye on every, direction at every moment and. We're. Having fun all right so. This, is, important. That we go over there celebrate, the security, recognise. The value for, us to get out there and better understand, the world and travel. I just love, travelling. Because it puts us in a mindset where we're more inclined to build bridges and less, inclined to build walls now. When, we're gonna be connecting, with Europeans, of course we need to communicate how. Are we gonna what about that language barrier we've heard so much about I've. Been teaching. Ever since I was a kid and I, always. Start my language barrier talk by mentioning I speak only English, it's, nothing to brag about but it's substantiates, what I'm gonna say if I spoke all the languages and said hey it's easy you can go over there and do fine it would ring hollow we, speak the world's linguistic, common denominator, if a Greek meets a Norwegian hiking in the Alps how, do they communicate. English. What Greek speaks Norwegian I don't, know that it even happens now. It's I think only polite not just to assume they will speak English, but to start by asking parlez-vous. Anglais, sprechen. Zie English if. They say no I do my best in their language, generally. After a couple of sentences they'll say actually. I do speak, a very little bit of English. And. I would be thankful if you speak clearly, and slowly, so. They're gonna do you a favor by speaking your language do, them a favor by speaking what Voice of America calls, simple. English, enunciate. Every, letter assume. They are reading your lips wishing, it was written down hoping. To see every letter as it tumbles out of your mouth no. Contractions, no, slang easy, words. Internationally. Understood, words, picture. Does not work photo, does. Vacation. Does not work holiday. Does I don't know why but, those words work better. Internationally. Understood words if my car is broken in Portugal, I point, to the vehicle and say auto kaput. That. Would be understood. Remember. Europe. Is multilingual. If you, are you, know in Croatian. You wonder what's in this packet it's gonna say sugar, in five different languages, and English always, makes it also. Remember. You need to make educated, guests, if you're not feeling, very well somewhere, in Scandinavia, and you see a sign with, a Red Cross on it pointing, to. Central. Sick, house. It's. Surprising, me how many Americans, would bleed to death in the street corner looking for the word Hospital, they've, got these things and sometimes they've got different words so make an educated guess here's, a sign that drivers. Will have to deal with I can't say I get it right every time but I I go at it with a with, a healthy sort of optimism that I can fake it alright you've. Got a sign in a parking lot here and it says P for parking when, you're in Europe you BD heads-up and you know that a sign with a red slash on it probably, means no well. It's, a sign that says, when and where you can park so something's, got to say days the. Cross would be holy days or festival, days and the, crossed hammers would be work days on work, days you can park there from 8 to, 20, 24. Hour clock anything, over 12 subtract, 12 and add P at p.m. 20. Minus 12 8:00 p.m. so, on workdays, from 8 until 8, you, can park for 2 hours, and, then. It has that other thing that little quad. Thing there and if, you're traveling in Europe you recognize, a little cardboard clock comes with your rental car you set the time put it on your dashboard you're good for two hours now.
If You happen to be there on a holy, day you, read that and it says no parking from 8:00 to 8:00 and you can read the Italian under that because, it says accept. Residents. With authorization. I certainly. Don't know those words but. It makes perfect sense that residents. With, authorization, would, be an exception, so we're making educated, guesses the average tourist would look at that and say I don't get it you can, look at that and sort, through it and if, you're really good at that you can be a tour guide like me. Transportation. In Europe is a delight, and when you're traveling these days there, are all sorts, of ways that you can get around economically, and efficiently, when. I was a kid nobody, flew point-to-point in Europe flying was just ridiculously. Expensive now, it's been deregulated, and before, buying any long train ride look. Into flying because routinely, you can fly cheaper, than you can take the train or the, bus now. As far as trains go Europe is investing, in its train system beyond, anything I've ever experienced, elsewhere in the world these are bullet trains I was recently on a train in France it was smooth, it, was silent, there was beautiful pastoral, views. Of the outside. The window and I noticed the speedometer, only illuminated. When it exceeded, 300, kilometres, an hour, that's. 180, miles an hour they, were like embarrassed. If they were going less than 100, 200. Miles an hour smooth, silent. And bam you're in Paris it's, amazing, how fast these trains are and they, are synchronized, if you're in remote, little community, on a fjord in Norway there'll, be four trains a day coming in and for, boats coordinated, with the arrival of trains going out every day all right all over Europe except. In Italy where the Train seems to come in just in time to see the boat pulling out. You. Will find that, there's that beautiful coordination. When, it comes to trains there is a formula second-class, in first-class, you'll, pay 50% more per kilometer, bill first-class, second-class. Is more, crowded and, four. Seats across first-class, is less, crowded and three seats across nearly. Every train is both first and second class cars on them each, going precisely, the same speed I guess. My point is if you're just buying transportation. Second class is a fine value, a big, question is how are you going to cobble all this transportation together, on your trip in the old days people would just get a Eurail pass for all of Europe you know well that's become quite, expensive and people aren't doing the big, basket or these days so much and flights. Were ridiculously. Expensive and train. Was a lot cheaper than cars things, have changed in the last generation, now. It's so cheap to fly I talked, with my travel agent and when I get my open jaw flight from the United States to Europe and back I at, the same time connect, with the one-way, flights you, can go Wizz Air or Ryanair, or discount airlines for 30 or 40 dollars a jump personally. I'd rather pay a hundred dollars in fly Lufthansa. Or Swiss air or something from, major airport to major airport direct and having. Hourly departures, my. Average one-way flight in Europe on major airlines, is a hundred dollars and I think that's a great deal as. Far as car or train, if you, want to get to a beautiful, site like this on the, Isle of Skye in northern, Scotland you're, gonna be glad to have a car you, know there's certain variables, that encourage you to go by car or train and you can almost annal you could almost analyze, that you could say if I'm going from big city to big city to big city I don't want a car a car is an expensive, headache in a big city you're paying to rent it and you're paying to park it and you're, spending, hours getting out of town for all that traffic when you can go from downtown to downtown effortlessly. By train so big city travel train, is better than car if you're tooling around the countryside that's where public transportation, schedules can be frustrating, and you've got you're glad to have your own mobility, if there's a group of you six. People in a station wagon or a minibus is far cheaper than six people buying six train tickets one, or two people go cheaper by train three or more go cheaper by car if, you, just don't buy this business of packing light, you. Should rent a car.
You. Can even rent a trailer. But. If you're going by train you better be serious about being mobile because you're gonna do a lot of walking with your gear by train so those are the variables that will help you choose when, you're in a big city commit, yourself to public transportation, I think this is really important, public transit is just good style travel to get you out of the traffic jams its economic, it'll overall save you time then. Worrying about driving. And so on a lot of my European. Friends never get around to learning how to drive it's not a political, or environmental, statement they just why I have a car public, transit is so good, I love, the, power of public transit gives me another. Great. Thing about traveling in Europe is bike bike rental I'm, not much for big bike trips you know between cities, but. I love to have a bike in a city when it makes sense when, I'm in Munich when, I'm in Stockholm. When I'm in Amsterdam when. I'm in Copenhagen. I just, have a bike I park, it at my hotel and I get around faster than if I had a taxi waiting for me so if you like biking think, seriously about biking, in towns, that lend themselves to biking, it's a very European thing to do and all over Europe cities, are becoming more and more bike, friendly I, want. To talk about eating and eating is very important. In your travels if you're like me and you, want to get a good value and a good experience but you don't want to go broke when it comes to going to these restaurants there are plenty of good ways to get a good value and what I want, to do is not go to the biggest, neon sign that begs we speak English and accept Visa cards I want to find a little hole in wall place run by somebody who's passionate about feeding locals. This. Shot is just reminds. Me of the value of getting a little mom-and-pop place, I call this woman antipasto. Alright. And. She. Just loves to cook and, what. You don't want is to go to the most expensive piece of real estate in town Katzen, Ivana in Rome and look for a big sign in English, that says no frozen, food, and then they have a printed, menu in five languages, that serves the same clash etic items all year long regardless, of the season, everything's. Wrong about that what, I want is to find, a a, handwritten menu that's. Small. And I want it to be in. One, language, because. I can I can I want it in a place that has low rent a little, hole-in-the-wall place a mom-and-pop, place just big enough ten tables so that mom can cook and dad can serve or vice versa right so it's gonna be a family-run one of these great grades my favorite formula and it's small menu because they're just cooking up what they can cook and sell. Profitably. It's one language because they're targeting locals not tourists and it's handwritten because it's shaped by what's in the market this week this. Is so important, that's if there's a good enthusiastic. Local crowd here and I got that menu it's, a fine value, now when, you when we're thinking about choosing a good restaurant I love, the idea that if a smart, eater goes to a good restaurant that. Traveler, can look at the menu and know what, month it is and where, they are by. What's being served you see what I mean you want to eat with the season and you want to eat locally, I don't. Like to go to fancy restaurants where I have to get a reservation, long in advance and dress up and spend a fortune I mean, occasionally, that's kind of fun to do but I want to eat well in a. Like. A foodie, small creative. Place, and. I like to go to a more, expensive place even on a tight budget in, order sparingly, that's much better than going to a mediocre place and ordering wild share. The main course get a carafe of house wine understand a bottle of fine wine when, it comes to dessert yet one and ask for three spoons it's, not classy, but they are thankful, you're there and it's, a beautiful opportunity to have the fine presentation, the quality food surrounded. By elegant local people who are enjoying, quality, local, cuisine one, of my passions, lately, is eating, family-style, in, some cultures it's just the way you do it and it's easy in other cultures you have to push it a little more but anywhere, in Europe you can order with your partner and asks for a small, plate on the side you, order different things and you share them you're, not trying to win some award in sophistication here, you're an a wide-eyed student. Of that culture and you want to maximize the experience a fun thing about ordering, family-style is you can have an arrangement with your travel partner that we're going to order one high risk in one low risk dish and at, worst we'll split the edible one okay. So, do. That family-style, business. And then you can try both of the pastas, do, that family-style and, you will have more experience, with, not, more cost, in.
Spain They've got this wonderful, tradition of tapas, and that's a great way to get out and experience. The local cuisine when, it comes to lunch I'm just looking for an expedient. Healthy. Efficient. Economic. Meal I don't, need anything, earth-shaking, and memorable for the rest of my life but when I have lunch I would rather go, to a local, restaurant and eat just a local salad, or something this would be a good little restaurant, in Venice, rather, than a sandwich shop or a fast-food place I'm having beautiful Venetian, cuisine all, over Italy you got these antipasto. Bars that are just a wonderful quick and healthy lunch also. Remember all over Europe the Industrial Age Market halls we're, getting run down because. People are moving out into the suburbs and using the big supermarkets. To, reinvigorate. Their, traditional. Market halls as is the case I think around the United States these. Old-style, iron. Glass market halls are now becoming food courts they, still have the merchants selling the produce and the fish area and so on but they that, was kind of getting run down and now I find they're very. Enthusiastic. And and full of energy, because, they've got these little little, restaurants in there there are quality, restaurants, and if. I think about it every. Every. City in Europe now will have what. Was a rusty old marketplace. That's now a very trendy place for lunch in Florence. The market touch'n trolley is just wonderful, it's the best place to go for lunch and you got a lot of choices and you're eating with the locals from. A picnic point of view you go to those markets and you put together the healthy ingredients of a picnic find, a nice spot to enjoy that it's always nutritious. If it's chosen well it's local style and that's a very good value for your, lunch when, it comes to sleeping I, am. Glad I've got the help of slides to show you what I think is a good hotel, because I'm not talking about this. When. I was a kid this was a great spot for dollars, for the bed actually, not really worth it but, you. Know there are lousy, non, government regulated flop houses in Europe even these days where you can get a bed for $25, and, a kitten tossed in for no extra and. I'm, not talking about that what I'm talking about is an alternative, to this this. Is what defeats. People who are on a budget this big international. Class hotel when I'm traveling on the United States on work I love to have my big modern, business, class hotel but I don't travel all the way to Europe to stay in an american-style hotel I mean think about it intercontinental. What are they telling you the same everywhere. Intercontinental. Designed for people who deep down inside wish they were not traveling. People. Who need a paper strap over the toilet promising, them nobody has sat here yet. You. Can get transplanted. American nicest but you're gonna pay American pric