Travel guru Rick Steves’ visit to Carmel


By Jillian Albrecht

Rick Steves speaks to a crowd of Carmel residents. (Photo by Steve Standifer with ZiaPix Multimedia)

Rick Steves speaks to a crowd of Carmel residents. (Photo by Steve Standifer with ZiaPix Multimedia)

Rick Steves speaks to a crowd of Carmel residents. (Photos by Steve Standifer with ZiaPix Multimedia)

Steves stands with Executive Director of the Barrington Troy Cannaday.

Rick Steves is a travel expert, but he didn’t set out to be.

He’s quick to explain that his first trip to Europe was one he was forced to go on by his piano-teaching father.

“I remember when I was 14 years old, my dad said: ‘Son, we’re going go to Germany to see the piano factories,’ and I thought, ‘Dad, that’s a stupid idea.’  I was a 14-year-old with a bad attitude, but I remember, right away, it occurred to me that this wasn’t all bad. There was different candy and different soda pop.  I distinctly remember statuesque German women with hairy armpits. And I thought, ‘This world is a wonderland!’”

That was all it took for Steves to begin his love affair with European travel. For the past 30 years, Rick has spent four months a year in Europe.

Earlier this month Steves, who has also been on travel shows and featured on PBS many times, spoke at The Barrington in Carmel, where he talked about his newest book “Travel as a Political Act.”  Here’s what he had to say when he met with Current reporter Jillian Albrecht.

Q and A with Rick Steves

Q: What brings you to Carmel?

A: I’m working for this retirement community (The Barrington) and they like for me to come in and talk about travel.  They sort of have a youthful philosophy here. When people retire they want to think of the world as their playground, and this can be their springboard.

Q:  Is there any particular age group that you recommend travel more?

A:  No.  The problem is in the United States we have to shortest vacations in the rich world, so if you’re a typical person trying to pay your mortgage and with a tiny vacation, sometimes it doesn’t make sense to fly all the way to Europe.  Other people prioritize and they make it work in their lives, but when you’re retired, and you’re reasonably well retired and able to walk well- I think it’s wide open.

Q:  Do you have a place you say is the best-kept secret?

A:  I really like traveling on the edge a little bit. If you go to Ireland, go to Northern Ireland.  If you go to Spain, cross over to Morocco.  If you go to Israel, be sure to go to Palestine. If you’re going to Greece, jump over to Turkey. If you’re in Scandinavia, go to Estonia, or St. Petersburg in Russia, because that carbonates the experience very nicely.

Q: What do you have to say about safety? Are there places you just wouldn’t recommend right now?

A: Yeah, Chicago.  I’ve been in Egypt, I’ve been in Palestine, I’ve been to Turkey and Russia in the last year.  And my loved ones say, “Do you think that’s safe?” and I say: “As long as I’m not flying through Chicago, I think I’ll be fine. “ Americans are too riddled with fear, we watch too much TV.  Fear is for people who don’t get out very much.  And the flip-side of fear is understanding. We need to get out and better understand the other 96 percent of humanity. So don’t be scared.

Q:  Where would you say that you’ve seen people be the best dressed?

A: In France. I think France has a sense of style that they pride themselves in. I’d say France is the best, and Italy is really good, too. Italy knows how to go out and strut their stuff.

Q:  Do you know your genealogy? Have you traced your roots?

A:  My relatives are all up in Norway. A lot of people have a huge appetite for finding their names on tombstones. I don’t have that interest at all, but I have the same kind of appetite for finding my cultural roots which are European. I just love to go to Europe and sort through it all. Figure out what shaped the culture that shapes me.


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