Most people know Rick Steves from his PBS television series on European travel, his line of guidebooks or, perhaps, any number of rallies at which he promotes the legalization of marijuana. He’s American, affable, geeky and roughly my parents’ age. He also makes a terrific travel companion. Or, at least his books do.
Last Wednesday, the five of us, along with Casey’s luggage that approximated my height and weight, packed into a compact European rental car to see Andalusia. Over the four-day road trip, we hit five cities, three countries and two continents, stepping on the banks of both the Mediterranean and the Atlantic. We encountered apes, snake charmers, camels, and Moroccans. We did it all on one tank of gas, and we did it all with the help of Rick Steves (or as we’ve affectionately grown to call him: Ricky, RS, Stevesy or just Rick). Here’s a quick rundown of the trip:
“Ronda’s breathtaking ravine divides the town’s labyrinthine Moorish quarter and its new, noisier Mercadillo quarter,” Rick said. He is correct: It’s a beautiful town of all-white buildings perched atop a gorge and surrounded by mountains. Ricky also was spot-on in his restaurant recommendation of “the no-frills Café & Bar Faustino,” where Casey and I became devotees to boquerones, or little fried anchovies. The one thing Rick’s guide to Ronda was lacking was an entry like this: “If you forget to pack underwear, don’t shop at Costa Sol, where the three-euro bargain bin is filled with tight-fitting and boldly designed men’s undergarments.”
Rick listed his Tangier warnings in rapid order: “Most of the English-speaking Moroccans that the tourist meets are hustlers. Most visitors develop some intestinal problems by the end of their visit. Most women are harassed on the streets by horny but generally harmless men. [I think this is a very cheep shot at Casey and me—Ed.] Things don’t work smoothly.” We went anyway. Rick further cautioned: “When you get diarrhea—and you should plan on it—adjust your diet.” Heeding his warnings, Jenn stashed granola bars and peanuts in her purse. The rest of us dove into the spicy but very tasty food and thankfully didn’t have to break into the Immodium.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then we posted 190,000 words on the trip on Snapfish. View them here.