Help Me With My European Travel Hero Choice
I'm going to do something that 64% of Americans don't do. It isn't "skipping a meal", smartasses!
We're going to give our passports a workout!
Yeah, bub...we really DO want to leave the country. I think we're coming back...don't worry about it!
We're going to Italy! It's not until 2021. Originally we were going on a cruise, but then I sat in some sessions with my new European Travel Hero at the Chicago Adventure Travel Expo. His name is Rick Steves, and what attracted him to me includes: he likes seeing the Big Things but he hates crowds; he loves to eat and drink; he doesn't mind spending what it takes to do things right; and he thinks Americans should act civilized when abroad.
He also has my hairline.
His main advice is to zig while others zag. He implores bucking the typical American 'list checking' trend, and to visit "Europe Through the Back Door", and all euphemisms aside, it makes sense to me. He leverages his theory in a series of travel books, television episodes, as well as his own travel guide services.
Without going into all the details of his "Back Door" theory, one that he mentioned at the expo concerned the busy times of the day in European tourist destinations. His day starts at the crack of dawn, when nobody is on the street, and he goes to see some of the popular attractions. Later, when the cruise ships and commercial bus tours drop off crowds, he goes out and hires the most expensive private local guide he can find. While everyone else is waiting in the heat to glimpse at a 800 year old painting, he's face down with his guide in a plate of prosciutto in someone's small family osteria.
Molto delizioso! Not certain if that's his first or seventh glass.
So we're blowing off the cruise, and setting off on our own. We've read one of his Italy books and watched about ten episodes of him visting Rome, Venice, Tuscany and especially Cinque Terre. As mentioned, it is still early in our planning process, and I have a couple of questions:
1) I don't know if Rick Steves is known in Europe. If so, is he well thought of? I'd hate to emulate what he does, and inadvertently piss off all the locals. If you have someone better that should be my travel muse, please let me know one way or another.
2) God knows I love beef, but is it really necessary to eat it raw, like they seem to do on his show?
A little bit of aloe, and perhaps an IV, and this cow could have lived....
I understand it will seem rude, but will they spit on me or my food if I ask for them to cook it a bit longer? I just can't do it, and I know damn well Mrs. OCD ain't gonna try it. I'm willing to wear long pants, a button down shirt, and learn some conversational Italian. Per favore e grazie. I just can't eat red meat that's, you know, red.