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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Why We Love Rick Steves European Guidebooks

In a May/June 2000 story for Transitions Abroad magazine entitled “The Best and Worst Of Europe—with Apologies to None,” Rick Steves writes “the area south of Edinburgh is so boring the Romans decided to block it off with Hadrian’s Wall.” In another section of the piece (still found online and worthy of a download), Steves notes, “Oxford pales next to Cambridge, and Stratford is little more than Shakespeare’s house—and it’s as dead as he is.” Then there’s this juicy tidbit: “A hundred years ago, Athens was a sleepy town of 8,000 people with a pile of ruins in its backyard. Today, it’s a giant mix of concrete, smog, noise, tourists, and four million Greeks. See the four major attractions (the Acropolis, Agora, Plaka, and great National Archaeological Museum) and get out to the islands or countryside.”

Best known as the host of the PBS series Rick Steves’ Europe, the man is also a prolific guidebook writer, one who is not in the least bit bashful about sharing his opinion. This is what we want in a travel guidebook, someone with an expert opinion we trust who can break down the destination for us. We don’t want a book the size of Anna Karenina detailing every nook and cranny of that country with little or no judgment (the old Lonely Planet guidebooks come to mind). Most of us have a week or two on vacation, if we’re lucky. We simply want someone to tell us you’d be a fool to miss the Sognefjord fjord in Norway or Burg Eltz castle in Germany, according to Steves. 
To see my latest column for Men’s Journal on how to pick a trusted guidebook, click here

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 05/29/14 at 10:00 AM
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Longtime Boston Globe travel writer, Steve Jermanok, dishes out his favorite travel locales and provides topical travel information that comes across his desk. is an Austin-Lehman Adventure's Top 125 Best Travel Blog Semi-Finalist

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