I've watched Rick Steves Europe for years on our local public television station. I've listened to his radio shows and his podcasts. I've purchased his guide books, his DVD's, even his Audio Europe 2011 iPhone application. And for the past few weeks I've been reading Travel as a Political Act.
In Travel as a Political Act Rick highlights what he's learned from 30 years of traveling and how it's shaped his cultural consciousness, his activism, and deepened his appreciation of the United States. On the radio and on TV Rick rarely shares his personal opinions. He's quick to point out he's a tour guide, not a commentator. With his ever present smile and earnest, enthusiastic delivery Rick presents the possibilities for Americans traveling to European destinations like London, Paris, Berlin, Rome, etc.
|Rick speaking in Peoria, IL I showed up late as usual.|
It's refreshing to read the personal observations of the man, himself. Rick compares American and European drug policy, talks about his eye opening trip to Iran, his impressions of Islam in Turkey and reflects on the separation of church and state. He reflects on his experiences volunteering in El Salvador. Talks about the big government and big expectations of the Danes. He's quite frank about what he's learned. Many of the topics are fairly controversial given America's current political climate, but at this stage of his career I expect Rick can afford to be fairly candid.
In the end, Rick urges us as travelers to get out there, to travel thoughtfully, to learn, meet people from other countries, to participate, make new friends and perhaps most importantly get involved when we come home. It's a different sort of trip with Rick, but one worth taking.