Walking in the Footsteps of Rick Steves
by Leo A. Zabinski, CTC, MCC, DS
A few years back I spent an afternoon with Rick Steves at a travel tradeshow, and over the years, I've bought and used several of his guides. However, I've never been able to pack quite as spartanly as he does and often aim at a higher level of creature comfort.
On a recent two-week cruise around Italy, I tried to see if I could incorporate some of Steves' concepts into my trip. I started by buying "Rick Steves Italy" at the local bookstore. I spent one night in Rome on my own prior to joining my cruise. Steves saved me money immediately upon arrival at the Rome Airport.
Instead of opting for the fixed cab ride price of 40 Euros (about $60), I followed his advice and took the 'Leonardo Express" train from the airport to Rome's central Termini Train station. Trains run every half hour, take 30 minutes and cost 11 Euros (about $17), with no tip.
I was in Rome to get used to the six hour time change. I opted for an inexpensive hotel near the train station. The Hotel Cambridge was not on Steves' list, but was in an area he mentioned about five blocks from the Termini Station. I got a small, clean room and bath with white marble floors and a generous breakfast for $105 a night. The clientele was mostly European. I would recommend it.
Steves had highly recommended the National Museum of Rome with its extensive collection of Roman sculpture, and it was a short walk from my hotel. It proved well worth a visit. I dined at a restaurant Steves had recommended… and I wouldn't eat there again. Perhaps it helps to have a TV crew along.
The port for Rome, Civitavecchia, is at least a 200 Euros ($300) cab ride away. I followed Steves' advice and took the train from Termini to the Port for 6 Euros ($9). That left me walking four blocks from the train station to the free Port bus thinking about the several hundred dollars I had saved.
Having been to Venice before, I took one of our two days in Venice on the cruise to go to Padua. Steves gave detailed directions on how to get there on the train. The 30-minute train ride covered about 25 miles and cost about $10. My destination was the Chapel of the Scovegni or Arena Chapel. The chapel looks modest from the outside, but the reason for its fame lies inside. Sometime around 1305 the artist, Giotto, executed a cycle of more than 35 frescoes. These brilliantly colored works of art have survived for over 700 years and are among the world's greatest art treasures. Only 35 people at a time are allowed through the air-lock system, which protects the chapel and you can only spend 20 minutes inside.
Padua's other major attraction is the Bascillica of St. Anthony built in the 13th century. St. Anthony's tomb is in the Basillica. Outside, a commanding statue of a man on horseback was placed there by Donatello in 1453.
My day in Cinque Terre, covered in a previous column, and days in Ravenna and Pompeii were also following Steves' guide. Steves' footsteps were about $200. The same items purchased from the cruise ship were over $1,400. I walked more and planned more, but following Steves' guides was more economical - and yes, more rewarding.
(843) 705-8080 110 Traders Cross, Okatie SC 29909
| | | |
Copyright 2015. All Rights Reserved.