An open letter to the Amazon Community, and Rick Steves -
First off, as an avid traveler - I've always counted on Rick Steves' books to provide me the insight, the tricks of the trade, and the valuable knowledge when I travel. From London, Paris, Italy - to Barcelona, Tokyo, Istanbul, and all of the Caribbean - these books have made my voyages entertaining and thought provoking - full of lifelong memories.
And this book was no exception..
Rick Steve's "Rome 2011" bible is the one stop shop for all things Rome. Wanna know where to find laundry hanging in the Trastevere area? Rick will tell you. Want to hear how Rick wants to "pick" the fig leaves off Roman Statues, in an "organ-ized" effort to show off the statue's manhood? Oh, you will. Care to take a walking journey, full of crudely drawn maps and half-baked "hidden gems"? With this book, you surely can.
Every morning of my 14 day trip, I sat on the hotel toilet and flipped through this jam packed book - and asked myself - "Am I holding the holy grail of Roman Travel - or just 487 sheets of expensive glue-bound toilet paper?" Between the not-to-scale maps, the haphazard reference to insignificant sights, the blatant omissions in the index, and the not-so-funny jokes, my face began to hurt as I shot my disapproving glare at this rubbish.
But yet - my partner and I marched on - day by day - and used this book at a guide, a tool, a source of the most useless knowledge anyone would want to learn - about Rome. As we passed each major sight in Rome - the grand Colosseum, the ancient Roman Forum and Arc of Constantine - to the Vatican, various Piazzas and neighborhoods - we pretty much came to the same conclusion: Every sight, per Rick, is the MOST important, the MOST ancient, the MOST valuable, and the MOST popular sight ever. Hear that? EVER.
As if the overhyping of each sight wasn't enough, Rick always gave us incredibly valuable information for these tourist spots. I appreciate Rick telling me to "look up" when I entered the Sistine Chapel, and my vacation would have surely been ruined had Rick not dumped me off in some random remote place, stating "this is where the 2 hour walking tour ends.. backtrack to get back to the beginning" - How delightful - a 2 hour walking tour is now 4 hours. Thanks, Rick!
I will say - this book was a real page turner, and by the 24th chapter, I thought I had "read it all" - but no.. Rick continued to drone on and on with his simple minded commentary and sigh-inducing poor jokes. And, not only did this book improve my trip to Rome, it improved my relationship. All too often, I would read aloud Rick's improv low brow humor, and glance painfully into my partners eyes - and we shared a moment - many moments - speechlessly communicating with each other: "where is the closest recycling bin... a new home... for this 487 page book..."
So thanks, Rick. Thanks for telling me to "turn left" when it clearly was impossible to turn right, unless I wanted to face certain death. Thanks for telling me "all stores are closed on Sunday" when in fact, most were very open. Thanks for plugging the touristy "Roma Pass" which forced people to stand in longer lines than the regular ticket queues. And - most importantly, thanks for pointing out the "most" grandeur of all sights - the only original set of bronze doors in the world, still swinging on their original hinges, in the Roman Forum. Because of that, I can finally cross #1 off my bucket list.