Let's Go Europe 2012: The Student Travel Guide Paperback – Dec 13 2011
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About the Author
Every summer for the past 50 years, Harvard students have gathered together the bare necessities and set off with nothing but a backpack and some old-fashioned grit. Budget-conscious gourmets, nimble transit-takers, and die-hard bar-hoppers--Let's Go Researchers have the time of their lives, so you'll know exactly how to have the time of yours. As our veterans like to say, it's more a lifestyle than a job. We've done it all--the good, the bad, the ugly, and the unforgettable--to bring our readers the most candid, witty, and irreverent travel advice available.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
I was looking forward to seeing if 2011 would recapture the glory of this once proud series.
At first glance, the new company seems to have gotten its sea legs: the page total has jumped back up and a cursory look at some of the cities I visited last year showed that hostels are up to date and the writing is original. Some countries are still painfully bare (Ireland has only Dublin and, surprise, Let's Go happens to offer another book for you to buy with more detail) but at least this new outfit doesn't seem content to rehash again.
I then started paging through some of my dream destinations for accommodations and was astonished to see that while hostel descriptions were intact, their locations have been removed from all maps. Want to stay at Instant Sleep in Hamburg? Take the U3 train to Sternschanze. Here's the address. Good luck finding it from there. How about the famous Sir Toby's in Prague? Sorry, that's outside the city map provided and there's no arrow to show as much.
What's most puzzling is that these accommodation markers were present before and were consciously deleted this year. Simply an awful decision. This is supposedly a book for backpackers, and looking for a place to sleep is #1 on my list for each city I arrive in. What did they save by removing these? If that's acceptable to them, why bother having markers for museums as well? Why not just remove maps altogether, give us a list of addresses, and sell a Let's Go map book to boost revenues while we're at it?
Another gripe is that they've completely removed Scandinavian Europe (Denmark, Norway, Sweden). I guess they don't count, and I haven't seen a region specific book for those countries either. Good thing I went last year I guess.
I'll give these guys credit for the content they have packed into this slimmer book with bible paper thin sheets. I could almost forgive the omission of great cities like Copenhagen and Stockholm if they had left the maps as they were. When in a foreign country, you need more than an address to find things with the maps provided. What travel book doesn't provide at least that? But if you love the writing of Let's Go, you're once again stuck with having to carry two books if you think you'll have to improvise at all on your trip.
However, to be honest, the listings for stuff like accommodations and nightlife are just UNBEATABLE, so I'm willing to deal with the flaws in order to get those recommendations.
I was trying to keep to a budget, so maybe I'm biased, but when I opened the Lonely Planet and Frommer's guides in the bookstore, their idea of "cheap" was like...65 euro a night. Even the "shoestring" book was borderline. That's just not the sort of budget I'm operating on.
Let's Go, on the other hand, listed hostels and cheap mom-and-pop places that got me through most of Western Europe on 20 euro or less a night. No complaints about those prices.
And nightlife? My friends' guides had maybe 3 awkward ex-pat bars listed each. And I found that it's super-tough to come upon a fun, hoppin' nightlife place that isn't just full of American study-abroad students without some guidance. Let's Go provided that guidance, and the places they listed were almost all great! And as for the ones that weren't - at least the reviews were honest, so I knew what I was getting into if I DID end up in one of those American-students-everywhere clubs.
My friends and I used only my guide to find bars and discotecas, because their guidebooks (from other series) were pretty useless on that front.
So, yeah, I sometimes had to ask a local for directions to my desired hostel, but if you can just buck up and ask someone where the street is, you won't have any problems. In fact, you'll have a great time. (At least I did. ^-^)
However, I wasn't surprised. This is a guidebook written by college students for college students. I can't be too critical of this book's focus because I am certainly not among the target audience.
I will say that, since Let's Go Europe is written by Harvard students, I feel kind of bad for the college kids without trust funds or a parent's credit card in hand who try to live the lifestyle expounded on in the book. I wouldn't recommend that kids take out thousands of dollars in student loans in order to finance a "Let's Go-Style European Vacation."
The book is written with the expectation that the reader is going on a months-long grand tour of Europe and can spend well over $100 a day all summer long, eating gelato and drinking local beer in picturesque European settings.
Also, one note about the logistics of using this book on the Kindle: although it is easy and convenient to skip around the content of this book with a Kindle, the maps are very, very difficult to read as are some of the icons used in the book. In addition, some of the content's formatting is lost on the Kindle which makes for confusion, especially when whole pages are rearranged and words are cut off the page.
Once you understand how the book works (the first three pages on "How To Use This Works" are key!), this book is a breeze to skim and find what you want. I love their playful use of icons so the important information can be gleamed within a glance. Let's Go Europe gives you the flavor (not the statistics) of the major neighborhoods in each city, then accommodations (mostly hostels within my budget!!) in each neighborhood, then sights, food, hot party spots, and artsy/cultural events/festivals. I don't know what Let's Go guides were like half a decade ago, but the directions were clear enough for me. It gave me a map of each neighborhood (with metro stops, almost every street name), and under each accommodation (organized by neighborhood), it gave me the street address, the closest metro stop, and directions from that metro stop.
I guess I can see how this travel guide won't work for everyone. It's not your mother's travel guide. It's real. It's not flowery. And it's not for those people who be trippin' because the elevator in their hostel/hotel is broken, or the person at the hotel's front desk wasn't the most charming person. My ultimatum was to understand as well as I could these new places I visited, and I spent every last cent and minute in my possession on experiencing things that could not be experienced elsewhere. For that, Let's Go was the best guidebook I could have asked for.