Rick Steves' Travel Blog http://blog.ricksteves.com I'm sharing my travel experiences, candid opinions and what's on my mind. If you think it's inappropriate for a travel writer to stir up discussion on his blog with political observations and insights gained from traveling abroad, you may not want to read any further. — Rick Sun, 02 Aug 2015 20:39:02 +0000 en-US hourly 1 I Have a Romantic Thing About Pilchards http://blog.ricksteves.com/blog/i-have-a-romantic-thing-about-pilchards/ http://blog.ricksteves.com/blog/i-have-a-romantic-thing-about-pilchards/#comments Sun, 02 Aug 2015 20:39:02 +0000 http://blog.ricksteves.com/?p=13144 Continue reading ]]> Pilchards are big, oily sardines. Their oil once lit the lamps of Victorian London. And, packs of salted pilchards kept the people of Cornwall alive through harsh winters in an age when putting food on the table to simply survive was a challenge. Here’s a peek at a secret harbor my guide, Tim Uff, shared with me. Don’t tell anyone, but it’s Penberth Cove (just a mile from the famous theater in the rock, Minack Theatre). It’s a rugged bit of Cornwall (sorry about the wind noise in this clip). From here you can imagine a hilltop watchman spotting a school of pilchards (“where the water turned purple”) and blowing his trumpet. All the fishermen would jump into their boats and charge out to encircle the fish with their nets. A good catch would have fisherwomen trudging from village to village with bushels of salted pilchards for sale on their backs, and the people of Cornwall would be kept in protein through the winter.

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Cornwall’s Ancient Hedgerows http://blog.ricksteves.com/blog/cornwalls-ancient-hedgerows/ http://blog.ricksteves.com/blog/cornwalls-ancient-hedgerows/#comments Sat, 01 Aug 2015 21:00:06 +0000 http://blog.ricksteves.com/?p=13141 Continue reading ]]> An icon of Cornwall — rightly nicknamed “The Garden of England” — is its fearsome hedgerows. For a thousand years, the hardy Cornish people have been picking the rocks off their rugged fields and stacking them along their lanes. Consisting of a stone framework filled in with earth and made vibrant with a tangle of vegetation, hedgerows also function as wildlife corridors. And, if you rip them out (as developers might be inclined to do), you get erosion. These hedgerows are part of the ancient fabric of Cornwall, where man and Mother Nature are dance partners (and man understands who is best qualified to lead).

I’m thankful I have a good local guide. Tim Uff expertly motored me through the wonders of the Penwith Peninsula here on the “land’s end” of southwest England. An expert guide with a car costs about £200 ($300, www.tourcornwall.com). For a group of four, that’s a great value. For a hardworking guidebook writer, having the help of a guide like Tim is a godsend!

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Tropical England http://blog.ricksteves.com/blog/tropical-england/ http://blog.ricksteves.com/blog/tropical-england/#comments Fri, 31 Jul 2015 19:35:19 +0000 http://blog.ricksteves.com/?p=13138 Continue reading ]]> While updating my Rick Steves England guidebook, I’ve endured some pretty dreary weather. So dropping into the Eden Project in Cornwall was a delightful chance to enjoy the tropics in England, and to explore the biggest rain forest in captivity. Here’s the description from the guidebook:

Set in an abandoned china clay pit, the Eden Project is an ambitious and futuristic work-in-progress – a theme park of global gardening with an environmental conscience. Exotic plants from all over the world are showcased in two giant biomes, reputedly the largest greenhouses in the world. The displays focus on sustainable farming and eco-conscious planting. If you’re looking for a quaint English cottage garden, this isn’t it. Rather than a flowery look at England’s past, this “global garden” gives you a sense of how the shrinking world will affect us in the future (www.edenproject.com). I haven’t experienced anything quite like this in my travels. Have you?

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Beauty in the Ruins of Tintern Abbey http://blog.ricksteves.com/blog/beauty-in-the-ruins-of-tintern-abbey/ http://blog.ricksteves.com/blog/beauty-in-the-ruins-of-tintern-abbey/#comments Thu, 30 Jul 2015 23:27:24 +0000 http://blog.ricksteves.com/?p=13136 Continue reading ]]> Tintern Abbey is one of most beautiful and evocative sights in all of Britain. And seeing a wedding ceremony inside was icing on the cake. In this clip the harpist strums while the pastor worries about the threat of rain, and the bride is nowhere to be seen (though she finally did show up).

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Details Paint a Bigger Picture of a Little Cotswold Church http://blog.ricksteves.com/blog/details-paint-a-bigger-picture-of-a-little-cotswold-church/ http://blog.ricksteves.com/blog/details-paint-a-bigger-picture-of-a-little-cotswold-church/#comments Wed, 29 Jul 2015 23:52:40 +0000 http://blog.ricksteves.com/?p=13133 Continue reading ]]> Buried in the Cotswold region of west England is the pristine village of Stanton, with what appears to be just another little medieval church. But, by knowing what to look at, you’ll see deeper. Follow me on an exercise that includes psychoanalyzing the patron saint (St. Michael, a giveaway that the church was built upon a pagan holy ground) to feeling the grooves worn into pews by sheepdog leashes centuries ago.

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Chipping Campden Silversmiths Still Hammering Out a Living http://blog.ricksteves.com/blog/chipping-campden-silversmiths-still-hammering-out-a-living/ http://blog.ricksteves.com/blog/chipping-campden-silversmiths-still-hammering-out-a-living/#comments Tue, 28 Jul 2015 22:45:55 +0000 http://blog.ricksteves.com/?p=13130 Continue reading ]]> England’s Cotswolds hide many subtle dimensions of the local culture. A hundred years ago, the delightful village of Chipping Campden hosted the Arts and Crafts Movement (refugees from the Industrial Age who despised mass-produced decorative art). Today, only one shop descended from those anti-industrial-design hippies survives — the Hart Silversmiths. It was fun to meet the younger generation, whose members are still enthusiastic about the fact that “everything we make is a one-off.”

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Travelers Café http://blog.ricksteves.com/blog/travelers-cafe/ http://blog.ricksteves.com/blog/travelers-cafe/#comments Mon, 27 Jul 2015 21:03:37 +0000 http://blog.ricksteves.com/?p=13123 Continue reading ]]> High school grads in the Alps, a “monk chat” in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and under the pillow in a Scottish B&B. There’s a lot going on in our Travelers Café where I collect my favorite blogs.

Skyla with cow

At Rick Steves’ Europe, we’ve been at this long enough that our veteran guides and travel writers have kids venturing off to Europe on their own. Skyla (daughter of Rich and Risa — writers in my office and former lead guides) and her friend Gabby are a week into their high school graduation adventure, and Skyla is blogging intimately about the experience. Reading Skyla’s report takes me back to my first solo trip — which I fondly recall as “Europe Through the Gutter” — as an 18-year-old. Skyla jokes that she should title her blog “Train Station Mishaps with Skyla.” It struck me that, for a teenager, the joy of travel is not the sights and not necessarily doing it right — it’s having fun with the process, being wonderstruck with a wider world, laughing through the mistakes and learning from them, and making friends along the way. That’s what Skyla is reporting on. They’ve figured out Paris, hiked the Alps, and are now sorting through the trains to Venice. If you have teens and are wondering about helping make the world their oyster, be sure to travel along with Skyla.

My kids, Jackie and Andy, are now in Thailand. Jackie reports that on her first day in the city of Chiang Mai, it’s already her favorite stop (beating out Bali and Vietnam). Andy and Jackie are learning about Buddhism with a program for travelers known as “monk chat.”

And my right-hand man in the guidebook-writing corner, Cameron Hewitt, continues to blog from Scotland. Scotland is a very hot destination these days (our Snapshot: Scotland guide easily outsells our England guidebook). And our Scotland tours may even be rivaling the sales of our Ireland tours. Cameron reports on the B&B scene as he searches Edinburgh for the very best places to include in our new, full-fledged Scotland guidebook. And he realizes how fascinating traditional Scottish candies are — checking out Chelsea Whoppers and other goodies at Lickety Splits.

And I’m heading for the south coast of England, blogging daily from there until I meet the TV crew again for more shows in Germany.

Thanks for traveling with us.

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Forget Downton Abbey, Blenheim Palace is #1 http://blog.ricksteves.com/blog/blenheim-palace-is-1/ http://blog.ricksteves.com/blog/blenheim-palace-is-1/#comments Sat, 25 Jul 2015 22:02:37 +0000 http://blog.ricksteves.com/?p=13119 Continue reading ]]> I nearly skipped Blenheim Palace this year, thinking that on a gorgeous Sunday in July this palace near Oxford would be a mob scene. It was nearly empty. In fact, I booked a special tour of the private apartments, giving me a 30-minute, behind-the-scenes look at the workings of the palace (£5). I was all alone with my excellent guide. This really is the number-one stately home to see in Britain.

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Oxford vs Cambridge? I’ve Changed My View http://blog.ricksteves.com/blog/oxford-vs-cambridge-ive-changed-my-view/ http://blog.ricksteves.com/blog/oxford-vs-cambridge-ive-changed-my-view/#comments Fri, 24 Jul 2015 19:53:21 +0000 http://blog.ricksteves.com/?p=13111 Continue reading ]]> I enjoy having strong opinions when it comes to hard itinerary decisions and rating various European destinations. And I enjoy reassessing. Twenty years ago I visited Oxford and Cambridge and got it lodged in my mind that Cambridge was much better to visit than Oxford. Since then, in my lectures, I’ve made the point that, “If you have less than a month to tour Britain, don’t do both great university towns. Do one or the other and save up time for something entirely different (like North Wales or the Cumbrian Lake District). And…Cambridge is better than Oxford.” I’ve spent the last three days enjoying both towns and comparing each — and I need to change my assessment. Here’s how I wrote it up for the next edition of my England guidebook:

England is home to two world-renowned universities: Oxford and Cambridge. Seeing one is enough. And the big question for many is which one? Cambridge is easier and more charming — with its lovely gardens along the River Cam. Oxford is more substantial with lots more to see and do. If you’re choosing between them, consider this: Cambridge feels like a lazy, easygoing small town; Oxford has more urban energy and more stately buildings than its rival. Cambridge is not really on the way to anywhere (and weak in hotels), making it better as a side-trip from London than as a stopover. Oxford can keep you busy sightseeing for a longer time and has plenty of good hotels — so it’s worth a longer stop. Both are convenient to London (with an hour’s train ride). And Oxford is in a much more interesting neighborhood as it sits near the Cotswolds, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwick, and Blenheim Palace. If you can’t choose, do both (there’s a great bus connection).

College quad

The universities of Oxford and Cambridge each consist of many venerable colleges sprinkled through town. And most have a fine central courtyard (called a “court” in Cambridge and a “quad” in Oxford). This is a particularly beautiful quad at Oxford’s Magdalen College.

Tour guide

Oxford and Cambridge each use the “collegiate system” where the colleges are mixed throughout the town; there’s no sense of an intact campus like you’d expect at many American universities. To explain the fascinating mix of town and gown, each city’s tourist board offers fine guided tours (2 hours, £10).

Harry Potter Great Hall film location in Oxford

If you haven’t read a lot of novels, visiting Oxford and Cambridge can be frustrating. Each city is bursting with literary references and treats its hometown authors like pop stars — such as C.S. Lewis, E.M. Forster, Lewis Carroll, or J.R.R. Tolkien. If you haven’t read their stuff, you won’t feel a lot of the excitement. Both college towns have also been featured in hit movies. This dining hall at Oxford’s Christ Church College is a huge hit with “Harry Potter” fans since it was the inspiration for Hogwarts’ Great Hall in the films.

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Oxford — Always Five Minutes Late http://blog.ricksteves.com/blog/oxford-always-five-minutes-late/ http://blog.ricksteves.com/blog/oxford-always-five-minutes-late/#comments Thu, 23 Jul 2015 22:14:09 +0000 http://blog.ricksteves.com/?p=13109 Continue reading ]]> Finally…I learned why that White Rabbit was always late: It’s because Oxford is almost comically full of tradition. One of the preeminent colleges of the 38 that make up the university, Christ Church is particularly loyal to its traditions — it even has its own time zone. Before the advent of trains made it important that everyone be on the same time — hence Greenwich Mean Time — different towns routinely had their own times. Oxford, being 60 miles west of Greenwich, was longitudinally 5 minutes different. To this day, the clock tower at Christ Church runs five minutes later than official British time. My guide tied that to the fact that Lewis Carroll taught there — so it was natural that the author of “Alice in Wonderland” would create a character that was always late.

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Revisiting One of the Greatest Cities on Earth http://blog.ricksteves.com/blog/revisiting-one-of-the-greatest-cities-on-earth/ http://blog.ricksteves.com/blog/revisiting-one-of-the-greatest-cities-on-earth/#comments Wed, 22 Jul 2015 22:09:38 +0000 http://blog.ricksteves.com/?p=13101 Continue reading ]]> Spending a few days in London updating my guidebook, it was fun to reconnect with one of the greatest cities on earth. The many massive new buildings seem to have been given permits on the condition that they’d provide public spaces, especially if they might obstruct views of historic buildings. For example, the big and glassy New Change Building (just east of St. Paul’s) has a little park high above street level reached by a sleek elevator that offers a free and amazing view of the cathedral and the skyline.

View of St. Paul's

London’s Tube, as the Underground is called (saying “subway” means a pedestrian underpass to a Brit), feels more efficient than ever. The Oyster Card is the standard pass — you buy it for a refundable £5 and put as much money on it as you like. You swipe in and swipe out and ride anywhere in town for about half the normal fare. If you forget to swipe, you’ll be charged for the longest ride possible — but you can never pay in a day more than the cost of a one-day pass (about $15). A feature I like is that you can swipe it at a ticket machine (shown here) and it tells you everywhere you’ve gone by bus and Tube with a full accounting and the resulting balance.

Oyster card

As a rising tide of affluence sweeps through London, I see a lot of pubs becoming victims of progress — torn down for new construction. It got me thinking that there are more pubs in poorer towns and neighborhoods than in wealthier ones for a reason. The venerable English pub filled (and still fills) a big need for the working class. For workers — historically with humble domestic quarters and no money for vacation — a beer on the corner was the closest they’d get to a comfortable living room, a place to entertain, and a vacation. As people get wealthier, the importance of the corner pub diminishes.

Pub hidden behind scaffolding

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That’s One Big Pickle http://blog.ricksteves.com/blog/one-big-pickle/ http://blog.ricksteves.com/blog/one-big-pickle/#comments Tue, 21 Jul 2015 23:20:10 +0000 http://blog.ricksteves.com/?p=13099 Continue reading ]]> While updating my Rick Steves’ London guidebook this week, I was struck by the construction and the changing skyline. With my local guide, Gillian Chadwick, I marveled at the energy of new London, as it seems intent on building itself out of any economic recession. While most people don’t know the formal names of the most striking skyscrapers — or which companies inhabit them — everyone knows the nicknames…inspired by what they look like: the Cheese Grater, the Shard, and the Pickle…I mean the Gherkin.

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England’s Red Phone Booths Find New Callings http://blog.ricksteves.com/blog/englands-red-phone-booths-find-new-callings/ http://blog.ricksteves.com/blog/englands-red-phone-booths-find-new-callings/#comments Tue, 21 Jul 2015 00:48:58 +0000 http://blog.ricksteves.com/?p=13093 Continue reading ]]> Britain’s iconic red phone booths are still standing, but they are becoming less common. Locals, who have a nostalgic attraction to them, are finding other creative ways to keep them in use. Friends here report that phone booths are being turned into Wi-Fi hot spots, tiny lending libraries, coffee huts, and even defibrillator stations. People buy them on eBay and take them home to use as shower stalls and garden decorations. Prostitutes use them as a place to post their little ads. And some people actually use them to make telephone calls to other human beings. Have you heard of any other creative uses of the beloved red English phone booth?

England phone booth wedding

For this bride and groom, a wedding photo with a red English phone box is a dream come true.

Booth with sex ads

While prostitutes can’t openly solicit on the streets, they can post ads for their services — and phone booths are handy targets. This booth next to my hotel was full of ads each evening. Someone cleaned them off every morning, but the booth was full of ads again each evening.

Rick Steves in a red phone booth in London, England

For me, England wouldn’t be quite the same without its red phone booths.

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Grand Tour of My London Hotel Room http://blog.ricksteves.com/blog/grand-tour-of-my-london-hotel-room/ http://blog.ricksteves.com/blog/grand-tour-of-my-london-hotel-room/#comments Sun, 19 Jul 2015 21:14:37 +0000 http://blog.ricksteves.com/?p=13088 Continue reading ]]> One of my favorite moments in my travels is that little eddy between modules of a trip. For me, each two-month trip has segments. Today, the film crew is flying home from Germany, and I’m settling into Britain. Travel is so efficient these days. We woke up at 5:30 a.m. in Rothenburg, left at 6 a.m., drove 90 minutes at about 100 mph on the autobahn to the Frankfurt airport, turned our car in, checked in with plenty of time for breakfast, and flew at about 10:30 a.m. By 1 p.m. (having gained an hour) I was settled into my hotel room in London with a Tube pass and my pantry stocked. Check out my scene with this video clip.

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Rothenburg as a Stage Set http://blog.ricksteves.com/blog/rothenburg-as-a-stage-set/ http://blog.ricksteves.com/blog/rothenburg-as-a-stage-set/#comments Sat, 18 Jul 2015 21:51:54 +0000 http://blog.ricksteves.com/?p=13078 Continue reading ]]> We spent 12 days scrambling to film our Reformation special. And the last stop was the historic German town of Rothenburg. If the town’s good enough to use as a location for “Pinocchio,” “Harry Potter,” and “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,” it’s good enough to film “Rick Steves’ Luther and the Reformation.”

Rothenburg entrance

Rothenburg scenes like this (the Burgtor) are perfect for on-camera bits.

Lord Mayor of Rothenburg with Rick Steves

For over 30 years I’ve been bringing groups to Rothenburg, promoting it in my guidebooks and featuring it in my TV shows. And Rothenburg, which recognizes the value of our partnership, was extremely supportive of our filming needs. Oberbürgermeister (Mayor) Walter Hartl, understanding how tight our schedule was, presented me with a lovely proclamation of appreciation without a big and fancy banquet. The medieval-style wax seal was still warm.

Bringing in a table

Upon arrival in Rothenburg, we scouted every museum, church, and possible film location. This was essential if we were to use our time smartly. The wonderful Imperial City Museum had the perfect place to recreate the moment Luther discovered the verse in Romans that said Christians are saved by grace and don’t need to earn it or buy it. But we needed a big old Bible and a proper table. Nearby, one of my favorite restaurants (Altfränkische Weinstube) had the perfect table. The boss was gone, so we had to do some fancy talking for the cleaning lady to let us walk out of the place with a table.

Large bible

With the perfect corner in the museum, artful lighting, our table in place, and a Bible that was actually 500 years old, we were ready to film. Here, Second Cameraman Tim Frakes sits in for me as we tweak the lighting. Can you imagine how beautiful that shot will be as I say:

He found his answer in Paul’s letter to the Romans. It read: “The just person shall live by faith.” With that key phrase, Luther discovered what he considered the “good news”: that salvation is not earned by doing good works or giving the Church money, it’s a free gift to anyone who believes. Luther decided the subject should be debated openly.

Rick Steves TV crew in the forest

After hiking into a forest to shoot the bit when Luther ran from the law before hiding out in Wartburg Castle, we paused for a crew shot: from the left, Cameraman Peter Rummel (who shoots nearly half our TV episodes), Cameraman Tim Frakes (who produced the Luther show I did for the Lutheran Church 15 years ago), Producer Simon Griffith, and me. Working hard is very rewarding with creative partners like this talented crew.

TV crew gear

It’s just great how, as we get older, our gear gets lighter. For a TV crew, we pack extremely light. I took a moment on the curb of the Frankfurt airport to show exactly how much our crew of three packs when we are making our TV shows (including a carry-on bag each for personal gear). The crew flew home, and I got off in London to start a three-week research stint in southern England.

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Inside Look at Amazing Crime Museum http://blog.ricksteves.com/blog/inside-look-at-amazing-crime-museum/ http://blog.ricksteves.com/blog/inside-look-at-amazing-crime-museum/#comments Fri, 17 Jul 2015 19:54:06 +0000 http://blog.ricksteves.com/?p=13075 Continue reading ]]> While filming in Rothenburg at the amazing Medieval Crime and Punishment Museum, we got a behind-the-scenes look at how great museums don’t just happen. (Tacky and commercial “torture museums” — which you’ll find all over Europe — do just happen… but I’m talking about real museums that have real historic artifacts.) Put on some white gloves, watch this video clip, and have a peek.

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Modern Germans Reenact Medieval Battles http://blog.ricksteves.com/blog/modern-germans-reenact-medieval-battles/ http://blog.ricksteves.com/blog/modern-germans-reenact-medieval-battles/#comments Thu, 16 Jul 2015 19:17:58 +0000 http://blog.ricksteves.com/?p=13072 Continue reading ]]> While filming our Protestant Reformation documentary in Germany, we decided to use Rothenburg’s 16th-century settings to do my “on cameras.” It was perfect: Its Medieval Crime and Punishment Museum is the best of its kind. Its churches are quiet and stately in a 1500s Protestant kind of way. The ramparts just scream Thirty Years’ War. And Jörg Christöphler, the very effective director of the Rothenburg tourism office, made sure we had access to whatever we needed to do our work well. Jörg actually called up his Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648) army for us. I had the joy of commanding about 50 stunningly clad reenactors. In this clip, we’ve divided them in two groups so each cameraman can be creative. We wanted to get some artistic clips that Simon, my producer, can use for his treatment of the Wars of Religion that devastated Germany in that period. (We kept thinking Protestant and Catholic Christians 500 years ago are an eerie parallel to Shiite and Sunni Muslims of our era. By 1648, about 20 percent of Germany lay dead.) When we were finished with our work, Commander Jörg declared “100 liters of beer for all!” And our army marched to the nearest beer garden. Life is much better these days.

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Documentary Style à la Ken Burns http://blog.ricksteves.com/blog/documentary-style-a-la-ken-burns/ http://blog.ricksteves.com/blog/documentary-style-a-la-ken-burns/#comments Wed, 15 Jul 2015 21:21:50 +0000 http://blog.ricksteves.com/?p=13064 Continue reading ]]> Rick Steves looking at a large bible

Ken Burns can enthrall me for hours on end with lavishly filmed, edited, and narrated history. It’s my hope that our hour-long special on Luther and the Reformation will be enthralling too. For me it was exciting to have access to actual documents, papal bulls, letters of indulgence, Bibles in both Latin and German, and pamphlets by Luther — all dating from the early 1500s. The Luther Haus in Wittenberg is the best single museum for Reformation artifacts and documents. We were given complete access to its treasures. We scouted one day to make a list and a plan. Then we filmed for four extremely efficient hours getting lots of great images to “cover” our script. As it was by far the most images we’ve ever shot in one location, I decided to be well-organized and catalog the clips. It’s like a puzzle, and at this single stop we got these 60 pieces. Here’s my list of camera shots:

Art shot in Luther Haus in this order: 1. Wittenberg townscape etching, 2. Frederic the Wise small color painting, 3. Luther with professor’s bonnet, 4. Indulgence etching scene with Tetzel, 5. Actual small indulgence (same thing filmed later in treasures room), 6. Tetzel on horse etching, 7. Pope Leo X, 8. Luther’s actual wooden pulpit, 9. First printed 95 Theses, 10. Luther with monk haircut etching, 11. Jan Hus etching, 12. Tiny color burning scene (big one later is much better), 13. Worms townscape color etching, 14. Booklet cover Luther at Worms in 1521, 15. Color painted Luther portrait, 16. Emperor Charles V, 17. Luther in disguise etching, 18. Cover showing three marriages, 19. Receipt for payment to city, 20. Money chest for community, 21. Latin Bible, 22. Etching of Luther and another reformer taking Communion, 23. Luther preaching etching, 24. Etching of fat usurer with good farmers, 25. Color portraits of two princes, 26. Life-size Frederic the Wise painting, 27. Portrait of Katie and Martin, 28. Wedding scene on book cover, 29. Katie portrait etching, 30. Locked metal box and coins, 31. Small painted portraits of Luther and Melanchthon, 32. Portraits of two princes, 33. Luther holding Bible (close up of hands on Bible), 34. Two-page spread with music, 35. First complete German Bible, 36. Tiny hymnal; Printing Press Room (37. Printing press, 38. Pope as Satan, 39. Color portrait of group of great Reformers, 40. Cranach illustrations on Luther booklets: 40. Grouping of several, 41. Cartoons of grinder, 42. Animal faces, 43. Big donkey, 44. Two anti-Jewish covers); Treasures Room — three 16th-century documents (45. Big one good for 100 days less in purgatory, 46. Small one with blanks to fill in, 47. Medium one with dingleberries), 48. Luther and Katie portraits young, 49. Martin and Katie in one painting, 50. Martin and Katie old, 51. Luther and swan etching, 52. Martin Luther fine color portrait, 53. Gathering of Reformers (with faces and the pope and company trying to blow out candle), 54. Big paintings of Diet of Worms (many shots), 55. Burning of papal bull, 56. Luther at Wartburg Castle fighting the devil, 57. Luther’s living room (with Rick walk through), 58. Luther’s first New Testament in German, 59. Pulpit room (with Rick walk through), 60. Rick walk into museum from outside — two versions, wide shot of the building exterior.

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Tartan Tat in Edinburgh and Falling into the Set of ‘Avatar’ http://blog.ricksteves.com/blog/tartan-tat-in-edinburgh-and-falling-into-the-set-of-avatar/ http://blog.ricksteves.com/blog/tartan-tat-in-edinburgh-and-falling-into-the-set-of-avatar/#comments Tue, 14 Jul 2015 23:31:53 +0000 http://blog.ricksteves.com/?p=13068 Continue reading ]]> There’s lots of travel fun happening in our Travelers’ Café — a collection of favorite blogs for all my travel buddies. Cameron Hewitt is now in Scotland, as he realized when he stepped into the breakfast room and found a bottle of whisky. Cameron reports on the “tartan tat” (kitschy sales gimmicks travelers find in Edinburgh), the truth about “family tartans,” and much more. If you treasure your romantic Scottish clichés, don’t read his latest entry. My kids Andy and Jackie are in northern Vietnam on a two-day cruise through stunning Halong Bay. In his video report, Andy says he’s fallen into the set of “Avatar.” And Jackie writes vividly about the experience.

Kiltmaking

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Reformation Shoot http://blog.ricksteves.com/blog/reformation-shoot/ http://blog.ricksteves.com/blog/reformation-shoot/#comments Mon, 13 Jul 2015 22:36:35 +0000 http://blog.ricksteves.com/?p=13056 Continue reading ]]> We’re in Germany filming a one-hour special about Martin Luther and the Reformation which will be released in a year for the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.

Painting of Luther at Worms

Luther was the first guy to stand boldly against the Holy Roman Emperor and the medieval pope — and actually survive. In this dramatic showdown before many of the most powerful people in Europe (at the Diet of Worms) Luther is told to recant all he wrote in his trouble-causing pamphlets. He said, “Unless you can convince me by scripture or by clear reasoning, I am bound by my beliefs. I cannot and I will not recant. God help me.” From there the plot thickens…and Luther’s hoped for religious reforms go far beyond his intent.

Etching of the Great Reformers

Luther was a brilliant PR man with a coarse and edgy wit. He had Germany’s top political cartoonist for a buddy, and the printing press to amplify his ideas. This propaganda etching, typical of the inflammatory cartoons of the day, shows Luther, Calvin, and the other great reformers lighting the way for religious freedom while, at the bottom, the pope, a cardinal, a monk, and the devil do their best to blow out the candle.

Filming crew in museum

This is the first documentary-style special we’ve produced, and it’s heavy on art. And art tells the story vividly.

Painting of Luther Preaching

This painting pumps up Luther’s charisma as he challenges teachings of the medieval Church that he didn’t find in the Bible. He preached in the people’s language, quoting the Bible like a lawyer to make his cases — unprecedented at the time. Listening to him is his wife and many children. (A priest with a wife and kids…also unprecedented.)

Simon with the solar-flare halo over his head

Producer Simon Griffith did a good job of keeping our script balanced and reining in my enthusiasm for Luther’s groundbreaking work. But here, in the forest beneath the castle where Luther hid out as he translated the Bible into a language regular people could read, it seems Simon is having a special Lutheran moment.

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