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Andy Steves' Europe: City-Hopping on a Budget Paperback – June 7, 2016
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"From Amsterdam to Venice, the must-see sights are described and travel tips abound, with an emphasis on stretching the travel dollar. Yet there's no skimping on insider know-how about bars, cafes and places to stay."
―Society of American Travel Writers Foundation
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I have been a fan of Rick Steves for years, jealously watching his excursions on PBS, wishing I was there myself... which led me to finally begin planning my own trip to Europe a couple of years ago. Rick has nothing short of a plethora of information in his shows, classes, website, and YouTube channel, however, many of his suggestions and preferences just don't fall within my price range or interests. When I heard his son Andy had written a book, I'll be honest and say I wondered if it would be something that was actually useful to me, or if it was more of a thing where he got to write a book simply because of who his father is. I am very happy to say it's the former. Being Gen X and not a Millennial, and because I will only be visiting two of the thirteen cities featured, I also wondered if there would be enough in the book to make it a worthwhile purchase; I truly feel there is. While not everything in Andy's book applies to me (i.e. we don't plan on staying in hostels), so much does (i.e. how to maximize your time in each city within a couple or three days).
I was fortunate enough to meet Andy this summer as well as attend one of his travel classes; he embodies the same friendly and inviting "let me take you along" nature and appreciation for culture that his father has, but with a fresh and perhaps more lively approach. (Side note: for those of you who can travel to Edmonds, WA, I highly suggest visiting the Rick Steves Travel Center and attending some of their FREE travel classes held on Thursdays and Saturdays.) Andy's target market and audience are college students, therefore as a single mother, my financial status is obviously my biggest commonality. His approach to these excursions in Europe is to enjoy as much as possible that falls within your interests and your means. Perhaps that approach is not entirely unique, but most books I've encountered, even Rick's, seem to expect you to have a budget from an income bracket far above my own. Right off the bat, each city featured has a little section in the margin called Calibrate Your Budget, which highlights the "typical" price for a hostel dorm bed, two-course dinner, pint of beer, bicycle rental, and single metro pass. Above that you can find Know Before You Go (Key Stats & Figures) and below that you can find Movies to Watch - I loved the latter because it gives me a way to entertain myself while I count down the days to my departure.
The book is in full color and each city is color coded which is perfect for someone as OCD as me. Each city also has a map, detailing popular/must-see attractions, museums, eateries, hostels, metro/underground stations, etc. Each city also features a three day itinerary, what things to plan ahead for (i.e. which places you'll want/need to have reservations), different passes, events/festivals, day trips, etc. Everything is well organized - there are sections for things like Top Sights, Top Neighborhoods, Top Eats, Transportation, Help, etc. - and the headers/subsections are well marked which makes it easier to find what you're looking for when you need it. Other features include [City Name] 101 which gives you a quick rundown of the city, and Act Like a Local which gives you a bit of insight into certain traditions, foods, etc. Be sure to read through the introduction which not only explains the best way to use the book, but is chock full of useful information; the same goes for the appendix.
All in all, this book is a great resource if your time and/or budget is limited. If you are a Millennial, regardless of your economic status, this book is definitely for you. If you're a bit older, like me, it's a candid look into what to expect in your travels, as well as some genius ways to save some money while abroad. And, if you're a parent taking your child, as I am, it gives you a better perspective of what the younger generation finds of interest so you can fit some of those items into your itinerary. That said, if drinking, hostels, and the "nightlife" aren't your scenes, I would encourage you to consider some of Rick Steves' books (and free classes & info online) as well, however, there is plenty in Andy Steves' book to spark your interest, plan your itinerary, and guide you through these European cities on its own.
PS: I'm not his family member.