Sunday, September 7, 2014

I am a Rick Steves true believer

Love him or hate him, if you travel to Europe, you can't avoid Rick Steve's. I've heard (and made) plenty of complaints about him. His listings are sparse, his taste might not be your taste, maybe you disagree with his opinions on some things, and there are huge geographic holes in his books. He is biased and doesn't hesitate to say when he doesnt feel something is worth the time. But if you read his books closely before you leave, and combine them with other travel resources, he is there to make your life easier--on some things he is always right.

On this trip I failed to notice several tips that could have made our trip cheaper and easier. But I also caught many tips that amused us and saved us time and effort.

1) Rick said to rent a tiny car. And better yet, rent a diesel. Actually what he said is that he always gets the smallest car. We should have followed his lead instead of the bad advice we got to not rent the smallest car, for the reason that you need power to get up the mountains in Greece. Fair enough. But what they failed to mention is that in Europe, bigger car does not mean more powerful engine. The bigger car (American compact size really; roomy by Greek standards) that we got chugged up the hills like a semi. Also--tiny little roads! Smaller is less likely to get sideswiped! And diesel is everywhere and €.35/liter cheaper than regular, which will add up quickly. Enough said.

2) Rick had all sorts of advice about driving and a heads up on the passing that I failed to see or comprehend before we left. One thing I got: his observation that Greek drivers drive 1/2 the limit or twice the limit. Steve and I laughed over this a lot because it was entirely true.

3) Epidaurus: Rick said this was a boring pile of rubble with an exquisite ancient theater. Precisely right. I know this was an important site for many reasons, but after seeing the theater, nothing else there quite catches your imagination.

4) Athens Archaeological Museum tour: his audio tour got us through the highlights before closing time. Otherwise we probably would have been muddling around not even halfway done as they were kicking us out.

Rick was not correct on opening/closing times anywhere, but thankfully they were actually earlier and later than stated and many things were open every day that previously had not been. So that was fine.

I'm sad that the portion of my adventure that includes Rick is over. If nothing else I already miss his corny jokes buried throughout his books!

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