March 06, 2011

Tips from travel writer Rick Steves

Who comes to mind when you need the inside line on what to do on the other side of the Atlantic? For many, it's Rick Steves, who wrote his first guidebook in 1979 ("Europe Through the Back Door") and has released dozens since. He's also the host of "Rick Steves' Europe" on PBS and "Travels With Rick Steves" on public radio, as well as a columnist and blogger.

In an interview in late January, Steves, 55, discussed:

Where Steves vacations in Europe: "It depends on the mood. I like Ireland, Portugal, the Alps, Italy, Paris, Rome, Istanbul. … I don't have one favorite place and am thankful I find Europe endlessly entertaining."

Places he wouldn't visit again: "Lots. These are places with little or no charm, so why waste time there? I don't like Geneva (Switzerland) or the industrial cities in Germany and England.

"I'm not crazy about the big resorts in Spain because I don't like to go where everybody else is. There are lots of people in Europe who are lemming sun worshipers who vacation on the same days and stack up on the beach."

Away-from-the-crowd suggestions: "Hiking in northern England, Norway or the Alps. Hiking is really the way to get away — but you don't want to get away entirely. I want little communities where I can get away from my norm.

"Some of my favorite times were also spent in Istanbul, Morocco and Cairo."

How Europe is different this year: "Improved infrastructure. There are new bullet trains that are faster, and new bridges. A new tunnel going under the Bosporus (between Europe and Asia, at Istanbul) will open in a couple months.

Read more on The Morning Call: Tips from travel writer Rick Steves


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