We love Europe because of its history, says European travel guru Rick Steves, but some of the happiest travelers are the ones who savor the way the continent is changing.
In a well-attended talk on the first day of the Los Angeles Times Travel Show (to be repeated Sunday at 2:30 p.m.), Steves ran through several recent changes in Europe. He also directed his audience to the Rick Steve Facebook page, where entrees include details of how his guidebook advice has changed in the last year.
Among the trends Steves pointed out:
-“All over Eastern Europe, you’ll now find theme restaurants serving dreary food from the 1960s,” he said. Ironic nostalgia dining, in other words.
-In many countries that used to be part of the East Bloc, authorities and academics are opening museums to confront 20th century Cold War history. In Leipzig, Germany, for instance, there's a Stasi Museum, exploring the secret police and informers of the old days in East Germany. “Grandpa is dead now,” said Steves. “We can talk about what he did.”
Steves made his first visit to the continent in 1969, when he was 18. (He father was a piano importer, so they visited piano factories.) By 1976, he’d started “Europe Through the Back Door,” a company that publishes guidebooks, operates tours and produces travel videos for public television. Steve remains based in Edmonds, Wa., near Seattle, but spends about four months of every year in Europe.
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