Rick Steves Talks Europe…in Vermont

by Gray Cargill on March 27, 2013

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If you have ever traveled to Europe and gone searching for a good guidebook, chances are, you know who Rick Steves is. The author of Europe Through the Back Door, Best of Europe and individual country guides, Rick also hosts a travel show on PBS and offers tours, audio guides, apps, you name it. The man is one of the most successful travel brands in the world. Last week, Rick visited Vermont (for the first time!) to help raise money for Vermont Public Television. And I was lucky enough to be there to hear him talk travel in person.

The Flynn Center, which hosted Rick’s talk, recently started a program called β€œTweet Seats”. You know how when you go to the theater, you’re asked to turn off your cell phone and not text? With Tweet Seats, a handful of social media-savvy guests are offered complimentary seats during which they live-tweet during the show. Woohoo! Permission to break the rules! When offered the opportunity to participate, naturally, I jumped on it. After all, Rick Steves’ guidebooks have helped me find my way around Paris, Barcelona, Madrid, Rome, and more. I’m a fan.

We were seated in the back of the balcony so the light from our cell screens and tablets wouldn’t disturb other guests. It was a blast! I got to meet some great local folks whom I’ve only interacted with on Twitter before, all tweeting under the hashtag #flynntweets. My only problem was that I’m nightblind, so when I had to turn down the brightness on my cell phone, I could barely see what I was typing (you can tell from the typos in my tweets). Also they didn’t allow photos, which was a bummer for us social media types. Fortunately for me–and you–Vermont Public Television shares. πŸ™‚

Rick Steves

The talk itself was fabulous. Rick is even funnier in person than I expected. There was a lot of laughter in the theater. Because it was a multimedia presentation (well, pictures of pretty places in Europe projected onto the stage), there was also much sighing wistfully as we all started daydreaming of trips to Europe.

I went into the show excited to hear Rick talk about β€œTravel as a Political Act,” having just read some articles he’s written on the subject and seeing a promo video of his travels in Iran (which looks awesome!). As it turned out, his talk Monday night was about travel to Europe, which was also fine by me. I still have a lot of European destinations on my travel bucket list.

Since Rick had thirty years’ worth of information to share on the subject, he talked fast. It’s difficult to summarize it here. I will say that if there was one overarching message to his talk it was: Get off the beaten path when you travel to Europe. You’ll save money doing this and get to interact more with locals. This is a familiar drumbeat I hear all the time in the travel blogging universe, so it wasn’t a new message to me, but for the first time, I started picturing myself actually doing just that.

Rick Steves

If you ever get a chance to see Rick Steves in person, I highly recommend it! It will be an entertaining evening for sure. The woman sitting next to me had never heard of Rick Steves before (because she is not a traveler), but by the end of the two hours, she was already planning a trip to Scotland next year!

For those of you who aren’t on Twitter, below you’ll find the highlights of his talk, in tweets by me and the rest of the Tweet Seats crowd that night. Enjoy!





































(Thanks to the Tweet Seats participants for use of their tweets for this post.)

Photo credits: All photos by Vermont Public Television: Flynn Marquee; Rick Steves on stage at the Flynn Center; Rick with the Tweet Seat champs, Elaine Young (@ejyoung67), Jen Adrian (@jenadrian), and Jessica Andreola (@jessandreola, @HotelVermont).

Katie April 23, 2013 at 12:45 pm

I am so sad that I missed him! I was out of town that day. I recently used his podcasts around neighborhoods of Rome. They were fantastic! Thanks for the good update on his talk.

Gray April 23, 2013 at 5:11 pm

Hi, Katie! Hey, another travel blogger in Vermont! Awesome. πŸ™‚ Yes, I agree, his podcasts are so useful. I’m sorry you missed his talk. Maybe now that he’s seen how great Vermont is, he’ll come back and do it again sometime. πŸ™‚

Amber April 14, 2013 at 1:28 am

Interesting to hear people say he was so funny. His was one of the first travel shows I really watched, well before I actually started to travel. I would also assume, like Andi, that he would be boring. He seems so reserved and almost nerdy when traveling on the show, but glad to hear you enjoyed it.

Gray April 14, 2013 at 8:16 am

I think that’s what’s so surprising about him, Amber. He looks like the kind of guy who would be very buttoned-down, but he’s got a great sense of humor.

Jeff @ GoTravelzing March 28, 2013 at 6:49 pm

That is cool that you go to see him speak. I have been using his books since my first trip to Europe and would never go without them. He really does a great job with his books. I am still disappointing that I missed meeting him by one day in Switzerland about ten years ago.

Gray March 28, 2013 at 7:18 pm

Aww, by a day? That is too bad, Jeff. I was a bit bummed I didn’t get a chance to meet and talk with him in person, but I’m glad I was able to see him speak.

Andi of My Beautiful Adventures March 27, 2013 at 7:13 pm

I saw him speak once and was blown away! I thought he was going to be so boring, yet I left very enlightened.

Gray March 27, 2013 at 7:42 pm

Yeah, Andi, after 30 years of constant travel, you’d expect him to know his topic well, and he does. But the fact that he’s also very, very funny and engaging is a big plus.

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