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Rick Steves' Spain 2012 Paperback – October 4, 2011

4.5 out of 5 stars 49 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Rick Steves has spent 100 days every year since 1973 exploring Europe. Rick produces a public television series (Rick Steves' Europe), a public radio show (Travel with Rick Steves), and a podcast (Rick Steves' Audio Europe); writes a bestselling series of guidebooks and a nationally syndicated newspaper column; organizes guided tours that take thousands of travelers to Europe annually; and offers an information-packed website (ricksteves.com). With the help of his hardworking staff of 70 at Europe Through the Back Door—in Edmonds, Washington, just north of Seattle—Rick's mission is to make European travel fun, affordable, and culturally broadening for Americans.

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Product Details

  • Series: Rick Steves
  • Paperback: 912 pages
  • Publisher: Avalon Travel Publishing; 2012 Edition edition (October 4, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1612380123
  • ISBN-13: 978-1612380124
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 4.6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #714,112 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Rick Steves advocates smart, affordable, perspective-broadening travel. As host and writer of the popular public television series Rick Steves' Europe, and best-selling author of 40 European travel books, he encourages Americans to travel as "temporary locals." He helps American travelers connect much more intimately and authentically with Europe -- and Europeans -- for a fraction of what mainstream tourists pay.

Over the past 20 years, Rick has hosted over 100 travel shows for public television, and numerous pledge specials (raising millions of dollars for local stations). His Rick Steves' Europe TV series is carried by over 300 stations, reaching 95 percent of U.S. markets. Rick has also created two award-winning specials for public television: Rick Steves' European Christmas and the ground-breaking Rick Steves' Iran. Rick writes and co-produces his television programs through his company, Back Door Productions.

Rick Steves also hosts a weekly public radio program, Travel with Rick Steves. With a broader approach to travel everywhere, in each hour-long program Rick interviews guest travel expert, followed by listener call-ins. Travel with Rick Steves airs across the country and has spawned a popular podcast. Rick has also created a series of audio walking tour podcasts for museums and neighborhoods in Paris, Rome, Florence and Venice (with more tours, including London, coming in 2010).

Rick self-published the first edition of his travel skills book, Europe Through the Back Door (now updated annually), in 1980. He has also written more than 40 other country, city and regional guidebooks, phrase books, and "snapshot" guides. For several years, Rick Steves' Italy has been the bestselling international guidebook sold in the U.S. In 2009, Rick tackled a new genre of travel writing with Travel as a Political Act, reflecting on how a life of travel has broadened his own perspectives, and travel can be a significant force for peace and understanding in the world. Rick's books are published by Avalon Travel, a member of the Perseus Books Group.

In addition to his guidebooks, TV and radio work, Rick is a syndicated newspaper columnist with the Tribune Media Services. He appears frequently on television, radio, and online as the leading authority on European travel.

Rick took his first trip to Europe in 1969, visiting piano factories with his father, a piano importer. By the time he reached 18, Rick jokes, "I realized I didn't need my parents to travel!" He began traveling on his own, funding his trips by teaching piano lessons. In 1976, he started Europe Through the Back Door (ETBD), a business which has grown from a one-man operation to a company with a well-traveled staff of 70 full-time employees. ETBD offers free travel information through its travel center, website (www.ricksteves.com), European Railpass Guide, and free travel newsletters. ETBD also runs a successful European tour program with more than 300 departures -- attracting around 10,000 travelers -- annually.

Rick is outspoken on the need for Americans to fit better into our planet by broadening their perspectives through travel. He is also committed to his own neighborhood. He's an active member of the Lutheran church (and has hosted the ELCA's national video productions). He's a board member of NORML (working to reform marijuana laws in the USA). And Rick has provided his local YWCA with a 24-unit apartment building with which to house homeless mothers.

Rick Steves spends about a third of every year in Europe, researching guidebooks, filming TV shows, and making new discoveries for travelers. He lives and works in his hometown of Edmonds, Washington, where his office window overlooks his old junior high school.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Eva418 on November 26, 2011
Format: Paperback
Was in Spain for 2 weeks. Traveled to Seville, Granada, Cordoba, Barcelona, Stiges and Madrid. Every recommendation and suggestion by Rick Steve's was on point. We flew into the Alhambra and La Sagrada Familia because Steve's highly suggested we purchase tickets online. Paid a little bit extra but well worth it - there was a four hour wait at both attractions. Every restaurant he suggested was outstanding. Will never travel without Steve!!!!!
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I noticed pages 673-720 were missing from the brand new 2012 Spain book. I will exchage I guess, but have already highlighted things of interest.

Also, I use Rick's books often, but he needs more info like a place to stay near airports as late arrivals or very early departures makes it difficult to get to town and get a hotel.
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Format: Paperback
I've just read through Spain 2012 to get ready for a trip to Spain, and the book is of the typically high standard set by other Rick Steves guides. I can't say whether any of the information is out of date. But the book's content is very thorough and usefully opinionated. That said, there are areas of Spain that the book does not include at all: the Balearic Islands, for example, and the entire east coast of Spain south of Barcelona. I do not fault Mr. Steves for these omissions, but potential buyers of this book should be aware of them. For example, you would never know from Mr. Steves' book that Merida is the richest Spanish city in Roman ruins (some of which are quite excellent), since Merida does not appear. But given the city's location and, frankly, the unpleasantness of modern Merida, most travelers are not going to be interested, anyway. And if you're designing a relatively short itinerary, as most of Steves' readers are, Merida is simply not going to make the cut (unless you have a very strong interest in archaeology).

As Steves says himself, his book covers all of "the predictable biggies", and does so very, very well -- perhaps better than anyone. But if you're going to Valencia, you'll need another book.
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Format: Paperback
Rick Steves' guides require a bit of a leap of faith. Unlike the phone book-like Lonely Planet, Steves' guides are not comprehensive: he focuses on the areas he thinks are worth visiting and leaves out the rest. Basically, if it's not worth seeing or doing in about a month-long trip to the country, it won't be in the book. That sends some people into conniptions (e.g. "How dare he not include _______?") and it requires a certain amount of faith that your travel styles and preferences will be like his. But, assuming they are, Steves does the visitor a huge favor by cutting the fat out and concentrating on the places and experiences that will be most of interest (unlike Lonely Planet, where one is likely not to need 95% percent of the bulk in that book that they're carrying around).

I always find Steves' guides to be most helpful with regard to information about the cultural sights, and Spain 2012 is no different. For a ten day trip through Madrid, Toledo, and Andalucia, we were well-guided through the key locales (Alhambra, Prado Museum, Royal Palace, El Mezquita, Toledo Cathedral, etc.). Where I find Steves to usually be a little bit weak is in food and lodging, but I found his Spain guide to be surprisingly strong in those areas. I found hotels through TripAdvisor reviews, and by a happy coincidence noticed that they came highly regarded in Steves' guide as well (Casa 1800 in Seville and Granada, Preciados VIP in Madrid). The food options were quite strong, although slightly weaker ... a number of our favorites we had recommended to us by others or otherwise found on our own (one Seville highlight not in Steves' guide: Labulla).
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Rick Steve's always hits the mark with his travel books and I have always purchased them when traveling to Europe. Great advice on arriving in cities, details on museums and art. Limited hotel recommendations in this book and would have liked to see more upper moderate picks. The one thing that this book does not cover is the smaller cities and villages. I have had to go to the internet to research some of the cities I want to visit. He likes to spend more time in large cities like Madrid which I always visit but would like to see more on the stop off points on the way. There is always charm and an opportunity to mix with the locals and soak up the culture. It is still a good resource and not sorry I bought it.
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We traveled 3 weeks in Spain in March-April 2012. We carried this book everywhere; using it for background information on what to see, where to stay, and (to a lesser amount), where to eat. We found that in-town bus and metro rates have gone up a bit since the book was published, but that prices in the book are good approximations.
The book more than paid for itself by netting us discounts at lodgings. We found hotels to be of good quality and good service. We mostly stayed in street-side rooms in the old-town section of cities and didn't find noise to be a problem (most hotels appear to have double-pane window systems). The rough-drawn maps in this book save a lot of time compared to searching in the detail of more fine-grained maps. We have nothing against the books' eating suggestions, but Spain has so many places to eat that we stumbled into great places by just wandering around.
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