No Satisfaction in Vienna

I was in Demel’s, in the fanciest cafe in Vienna, today filming. They said we were welcome to work there until noon when “a famous person was coming by.” Everyone wondered who it would be…The Rolling Stones are in town and so are The Who. I thought I might be in for a rock ‘n roll treat. We were out by noon, when George Lucas dropped by for a Sacher Tort and a Coffee.

The Viennese–so finished with imperial excess–are still talking about the visit of George W. Bush last week. They’re not that fond of our president over here. Newspapers say he is greeted with all “the warmth of a legal deposition.” The president and Laura didn’t come by Demel’s. (Demels–once the Hapsburg Emperor’s favorite bakery–still has its marzipan statue bust of an edible Bill Clinton in its window…a souvenir of a happier visit.)

Speaking of the Rolling Stones: Mick Jagger booked the presidential suite in the Imperial Hotel–Vienna’s palace of hotels–a year in advance for a performance here. When President Bush and his entourage decided to visit, they wanted in at the Imperial. The Imperial asked the Stones if they would be willing to switch. The Stones said no way. Later, Keith Richards fell out of a coconut tree in Fiji, hurt his head, and they cancelled their Vienna concert. According to a now popular local legend (likely not true), the Bush party asked if they could have the room then. Mick–old, but still a bad boy–said they’d keep the reservation even if they weren’t coming.

The Bush party (locals say over 200 strong) ended up in the ugly Intercontinental Hotel. According to my local guide: “They booked four floors so no one would know which room the president was in. They flew in thirty big American cars. And they even brought with them all the president’s food along with a cook. Any cars of local people still parked along the route the president took from the airport to his hotel were towed away. They were so worried about bombs…even bicycles were removed. Entire sections of the old center of town had to be closed down when the first lady decided to do a little shopping. It was a very bad day for merchants.”


83 Replies to “No Satisfaction in Vienna”

  1. Do I detect an anti-Bush bias? Did you get the same details of any other presidential visit to any other out-of-DC location. Other than Clinton being a social butterfly (of sorts), the rules enforced around presidential visits are pretty rigid and dictated (don’t you love the word when referring to the presidency) by the secret service. Being president really is the worse job in the world. Nothing you eat nor anywhere you stay is not thoroughly checked out by the secret service. It becomes simpler to bring your own food.

    That Mick and those cranky Austrians. From my viewpoint, Mick can pay for his unused rooms and the Herren can go whistle for their lost business. Their own government had to cooperate in order for all those things to happen.

    I’ll defend your religious tolerance, but I’ve no sympathy for your politics.

  2. Your post brought back memories of my visit to Demel’s a few years ago. Like George Lucas, I went for the Sachertorte (yum!), but stayed for the atmosphere and ambiance. You can linger all day (well, I guess unless they chase you out because a celebrity is coming!) over coffee and a newspaper. And — yes, I found that our president is by no means Mr. Popularity practically anywhere in Europe. But Europeans separate the American people from our politicians and their trumped-up wars. All over France, Austria and Germany I was greeted warmly and had Europeans discuss with interest (but no rancor) America’s position in the world. Talking like this — person to person — is ultimately the way we’ll achieve peace.

  3. Someone told me that the “Rolling Stones’ Hotel Room” story is largely apocryphal. None-the-less, it has taken on a life of its own here in Vienna. You hear it everywhere. I agree that the Viennese were fairly skeptical and grumbly about the whole visit (“skeptical and grumbly” is famously part of their day-to-day reputation. They are that way about a lot of things.) Although they commonly dislike the current US administration, the Viennese generally like Americans.

  4. To Charles – I see nothing in Rick’s blog to suggest that he is “anti-Bush”. He is merely stating what he heard while in Vienna.

    By the way, I’ve been to Austria & I have seen NOTHING to suggest that they are “cranky” (sounds like a little “anti-anyone-who-doesn’t-like-Bush” to me…hmmm). To be fair, would you like it if your business was shut down so the Austrian president could come visit?

  5. To Aquarius: I think if you click on my name below, you can email me directly. I was doing a take-off on Rick’s comments as a critique (somewhat sarcastically) of his general attitude towards Americans who are willing to speak up for their country. Since 9-11, his writings have been couched in such a way as to suggest that no one should defend the US and its policies with regard to Iraq, etc. I take that and today’s comments as disapproval of the president and his conduct of policy. Since I admire the man and his lifelong pursuit of bringing the fun of travel to young people and budget-minded travelers, I wish him all the success in the world. Even more, I buy his books.

    On the other hand, in all my own travels, when someone goes out of their way to criticize the US unfairly (meaning if the criticism is based on ignorance or general misinformation)directly to me, I will respond with whatever facts or opinion I have. When US criticism is justified, I don’t dispute.

  6. Rock on Charles, I was just in Salzburg and met a few people who really loved Americans and America. Just a heads up as I work in politics, every city shuts down practically when any president comes to andy town. That’s life. I also felt that while I stayed in Germany/Austria and watched the news and spoke to people that mostly were informed with selective information, and most times misinformed in many areas.
    But, I still love the beauty of Europe, even if the current situation makes us sometimes at odds.

  7. The term “Chauvinism” is named after Nicolas Chauvin and his passionate, unyielding support for Napoleon, even as Napoleon was bleeding France dry. Regarding today’s situation, there is no dishonor in honestly calling a spade a spade:
    * The preemptive invasion of Iraq was a mistake (What now? Questioning peoples patriotism doesn’t move the discussion forward);
    * Cutting taxes during wartime and running up a monumental deficit is a mistake;
    * Gitmo is a mistake (as are policies that have the effect of blurring guidelines intended to prevent prisoner abuse.) It undermines everything America stands for.
    Mocking Europeans for having been against bad policies rings of chauvinism. Objectively looking at the current leadership in Washington is in order.

  8. I’m an American in Vienna and would totally agree about the crankiness– the Viennese are cranky about everything (grantigkeit it’s called.)

    The Austrian gov’t in their role as holding the EU presidency while Bush was here (the whole reason Bush was even in Vienna)cooperated with all of the security and the extra measures were announced. (And FYI your info is wrong– Laura wasn’t shopping but rather sightseeing– Albertina and Stephansdom.)

  9. Please everyone stop with the politics. Rick has never hidden the fact that he expresses his personal beliefs – and that is why I keep buying his books year after year. So, enough talking about who does or does not like our President, how about enjoying Rick’s wonderful travel anecdontes.

  10. I am a engineer working and living in Germany. I work with the military. Guess what it is true, many Europeans think Bush is an idiot but they like US and US citizens. That is okay, we can all have our opinions. Fortunately for me I agree with many opinions I hear when it comes to Bush. Guess what some of the negative opinions also come from my military collegues.

    So everyone who thinks everything is black and white get a life.

  11. Doesn’t anyone remember Bill Clinton’s infamous hair cut on the runway at LAX? It inconvenienced travelers, people such as ourselves.
    Any President, Rep., Demo., or Independent will receive the same treatment by the Secret Service when they are visiting anywhere outside The White House. They travel with lots of SUV’s and shut down streets. It’s the way it is.
    I take more offense at Rick calling the Hotel Intercontinental UGLY! It may not be much to look at from the outside, but my husband and I spent a wonderful time there. The room was sumptious and the service excellent. Plus we had a nice view of the river. Who could ask for more?

  12. Rick, why don’t you just let us know about the places you visit and not your politics! I really see absolutly no reason to pass on something that you may have heard from a passerby on the street about Bush. If you want to pass on the information then take a poll and see what the majority think. We understand that you do not like Bush but many of your readers do!!!!


  13. Rick, you’d do well to heed Glen’s advise – your blog is clearly tainted with your own political bias. Whereas it is your web site and you’re priviledged to say whatever you please, as a paying customer, or a potential customer, I’m really not interested in your political slander of the President of the Unites States. Even as a registered Democrat, I have significant respect for the office and the man. My respect for you has signficantly diminished. Even freedom of speech comes with a price: “respect”.

  14. I admire that you include a political angle to your reports because, HELLO, as thinking readers, we all have opinions, let’s not pretend to candy coat that we don’t. That’s poltics, no? It’s not a bad word. Maybe it’s just hard for some to hear that Bush is not loved or admired in so many places. Half of us didn’t vote for him, after all, not even the second time. I was in Wien during Bush’s visit–a day I decided to pop up and see my favorite sights in a city I love. I didn’t realize I’d be met with massive confusing street closures, delays and re-routing that added stress to an already very humid and sticky day. I asked myself outloud which head of state visiting would get the same fanfare. I couldn’t think of one. Simply put–a real pain and nto sure what really came out of the visit. I was embarassed for him. The Strassenbahnen (streetcars) in the city that day flew ‘peace’ flags along with Austrian flags..I found that inspiring and refreshing. Keep open minds!

  15. This blog is supposed to be about travel – not politics. That goes for all of you – YOU TOO, RICK!

  16. Helloooo, people. Rick doesn’t like Bush. How can you not know that? Read his web-site, read his editorials, read his books. And in my opinion, Rick is absolutely brilliant — about traveling and about politics. To Rick: Rock on! And keep speaking the Truth.

    P.S. Yes, people. I am indeed another of the many, many Americans who does not like Bush. W stands for WORST president ever!

  17. Rick, your anti-Bush beliefs make you look even more stupid than you already do after all your other liberal rants. You’ve made a good living at writing travel books and doing travel shows, so I suggest you stick to that and stop alienating half of your buying public.

    Also, your naivety about security measures for visiting heads of states is highly entertaining and laughable.

  18. Oh Rick, please keep telling the stories just like you hear them. No matter what anyone thinks, or who appreciates (or doesn’t) what you’ve heard about our Commander in Chief, keep writing it like you hear it in the cafes and on the trains. I just returned from 2 weeks in Europe, traveling alone, and I heard all kinds of opinions about Bush (mostly very negative, but ONLY after I shared my own disdain for his behavior — otherwise they were very careful and measured about what they said). I love reading your blog, and I’ve been immensely benefited by your books and recommendations … so please, keep being who you are, keep sharing what you hear and see … and let us all figure out how to just accept it as the generosity of your travel experiences, shared with us all.

  19. What Rick has blogged here were facts based on his travel experience. Those who are paranoid about their politics and obsessed with their own ideology undoubtly will take offense. I too, have witnessed anti-American sentiment when I travel overseas. That’s not a political statement, just a statement of fact. By the way, I am a patriotic American from the President’s home state, politically independent, and completely respect the office of the President even when I have had limited respect for the person.

  20. Rick, I hear anti-Bush statements everyday on the streets here in California, so is it really that noteworty to mention it again and again about anti-Bush sentiments in extremely liberal Europe?

    Stick to travel topics and keep politics out of your publications please!

    -A democrat from California

  21. I’ve been reading and traveling with your books for 15 years.Your emphasis of connecting with the people and their culture has always been refreshing.Even if I have family members in Europe for free food, free accommodation and free advice, your books have stood the test of time.Common sense tells us that politics are part of culture and they can’t be separated.Bush is not well respected by the European community and facts are facts. It isn’t any liberalist agenda, being anti-American or being anti-Bush. Europeans see things differently than Americans even though there are still many similarities in the one race known as the human race.Their democratic systems are different so why shouldn’t some of their political views be different.So for those of you are having a tough time understanding that in some countries liberal is a good word and conservative is a bad word try not to take things personally.Its great to ask a question with why.Try it you may be surprised with the answer!

  22. It’s amazing how many people in this country think that we all love Bush, we all go to church every Sunday….and that’s what Americans are. Wake up. We don’t all love Fox News and we don’t all support this administration that we did not vote for. Americans are not “the stereotype” but we disent, and that’s ok, for most of us to hear what others think of us. Don’t freak out if you don’t agree, get used to it. And I wouldn’t like to have the job of US president, it must suck, even if you do a good job!

  23. Kathy, you could also ask yourself why those countries are also extremely anemic. Hint: It could have something to do with their liberal ideology, state-controlled industries and sky rocketing tax rates!

  24. For goodness sakes people, get a life! I’m not here to make any excuses for Rick but come on. Rick is passing on an amusing anecdote about last week’s presidential visit, and so many of you are interpreting this as an anti-Bush rant. He never said he witnessed it. Do you really think that Rick or any resonably educated American doesn’t know about the security involved in presidential travel? I think the Rolling Stones story was pretty funny and try as I might I fail to find any “political slander,” in the blog.

  25. Well, I thought the blog was funny, and I think some people are missing the point. A blog is an online journal-you write it as you see it, think it, feel it. You get to say what you want when it’s your blog-it’s not supposed to be censored as so many are asking. And since it is America, you don’t have to read it if you don’t want to-again, the whole point of a blog.

    But I just wanted to say I thoroughly enjoy all of Rick’s writing- regardless of subject- and will continue to read everything. The humour, observations, and thoughtfullness are much appreciated by this fan and consumer.

  26. I love reading the travel stuff. It is my first time blogging. Wow, what a bunch of whiners. I for you am a proud American no matter who is in that office. We are lucky to have the freedom to speak our minds, but respect is more important then that freedom. Life is good here because of people that are willing to give their lives so you idiots can hang out blogging and disrespecting our country’s leader. Go volunteer somewhere and realize you probably have it better then most.This is one blog that won’t see me again. :(

  27. I was in Vienna during President Bush’s visit. It did put a damper on our last day of sightseeing. The “low light” was being locked in the Hilton Vienna for 2 hours waiting for the President’s motorcade to pass on the way to the airport. I was embarrased to hear other American’s speaking disrepectfully of our President in a foreign country. Show some respect!

  28. What is really sad is that because of all the crazy arrangements made in preparation for W’s visits to Europe, he will never know just how the European community feels about him. I wanted to crawl in a hole this week when, instead of addressing all the serious topics in front of him in Germany, all he could do was joke about the “pig” he was going to eat that night. Rock on Rick – you’ve got it right!

  29. Dianne – you have to earn respect and W. hasn’t done one thing to earn one smidgen of respect. Freedom includes the right (and the privilege) to criticize our office holders. And, it is not unpatriotic, quite the contrary.

  30. Rick is allowed, as are each of you, to speak his mind about whatever he wants. That’s what this country is about…freedom (and that includes speech). Even George Bush would agree with that. Telling Rick not to comment in his blog about any political figure, or about politics is akin to censorship, and that’s very un-American, folks! Let’s open our minds to the fact that everyone has a different opinion – even those of us on the same side of the “political fence” – and rejoice in the fact that we’re allowed to speak our opinion when and where we like. People should be aware of the political climate of a country when traveling, and I find the information interesting.

  31. The Dixie Chicks personal opinion of Dubya earned them a Savonarola-like attack by country radio. Rock and Roll got the same treatment in the 50s. Let’s also not forget all the “commies” they told us about in Hollywood. Not liking Bush does not make one un-American, quite the contrary. As for Rick’s opinions, at least he has the guts to put it out there. Where were the musicians of Nasviile when one of there own needed them? They were protecting their own assettes.
    What does this have to do with travel? When you go overseas and connect with people, you get their opinion uncolored by fear of loosing their livlyhood or being black-balled. You get the rest of the world’s opinion of us. We are not always wrong, we are not always right, but I’ve gotta tell you, sometimes it feels like 1984 in the good old USA.
    As for naivety, did anyone tell the Prez the only true secular democracy in the Arab world was Turkey(maybe Egypt, maybe not) , and it took a Turk and some 50 years to get there?

  32. The Austrians don’t like Bush because they can recognize a Nazi from a mile away. They don’t approve of Bush’s War on Islam either. Their opinions are based on experience – we might benefit from considering their point of view.
    I hope Rick continues to let us know what the Europeans are thinking, since they rarely share with americans whom they see as overly sensitive and naive.

  33. Oh, my! We all must have too much spare time (me included, since I am putting in my 2 cents). Three years ago when I was in Vienna, the ring road was closed one Saturday for some type of run (marathon or foot race of some kind). Since I do not run or aspire to, I guess I should have complained heavily about that, but our group managed to work around the detours and have a nice day. The point is this – at times roads are closed, and sometimes it is when you are on vacation, but you just have to accept it and have fun anyway.
    As far as the political stuff, I think we all could do without it on a travel blog. The thing I want to hear about is where to find the good chocolate cake, not who else is eating it!

  34. Jay,

    I agree with many of your opinions, but please know that Turkey is not an Arab country. They are ethnicly Turks and speak Turkish, they are not Arab and do not speak Arabic.

    I think your comments were right. In the Middle East: Turkey, Israel, and the Palestinian Territories are the only truly multi-party democracies that have legitimate elections with legitimate candidates. If we take a look at these countries: Israel is a Jewish state that is culturally more European, or even Californiaesque multi-cultural than Middle Eastern. Palestine had free elections, but elected terrorists.

    Clearly, Turkey does this best.

  35. Rick,

    I truly enjoy following you on your adventures every week on PBS (as a conservative, it’s one of the few things of value on PBS). Like others who’ve posted to your blog, I’ve observed in recent years that you do have a liberal bias–perhaps a result of your exposure to the rampant socialism for which much of Europe is known.

    I’m a Texan who did vote for Mr. Bush twice, but I certainly do not agree with all of his policies–in my opinion, he’s not conservative enough. Nevertheless, I think that you can take comfort in the fact that you attract people who hunger for travel–at least vicariously–despite your political opinions.

    My wife (a recovering Democrat from the Northeast) and I would love to take one of your tours at some point in our lives–particularly before the radical Moslems get too powerful. You seem like a very interesting, well-informed, and pleasant guy. Continue to focus on travel and tone down the political commentary, please.

  36. Thanks Rick for the heads-up concerning the European majority opinion of our current political climate. It is good to recognize that while traveling one needs to be humble in the face of democracy.
    I will practiced the phrase “I am from Wisconsin…which is very close to Canada…” , before my next visit to Europe, just as I hope foreign Muslims traveling to my own home town will practice saying “I’m am moderate and I don’t believe in terrorism.”

  37. For a change of everyone’s pace, let’s focus on Vienna. I haven’t read Rick’s book on Austria, but I hope he’s included Vienna’s rich coffee culture (I’m not talking the fake powder mixes popular in the States). Vienna is where coffee broke out of the Middle East when the Ottoman Empire failed in it’s bid to take over Austria. Demel’s is just one of the superior cafes (and the fanciest) in Vienna. Take a visit to Cafe Central(visited by Trotsky and Klimt), Cafe Sacher(the original Sacher Torte is made here), Cafe Landtmann(visited by Sigmund Freud), and Cafe Frauenhuber (visited by Mozart and Beethoven). Each has their own distinctive style and contribution to the rich Viennese culture.

    Everything aside, politics have always been a popular topic in Vienna. From Lenin to Hitler to Hertzl and Alfred Adler and yes even Clinton and Bush. Our presidents’ visits, popular or not, just add more flavor to the style and fun of Vienna. Go and enjoy! Keep blogging Rick!

  38. Accept this blog for what it is–information being passed along. Rick is in the information business and I find it very hard to separate politics, places, and travel. This blog has developed into an interesting forum–I see no contentious statements and all opinions are expressed politely; perhaps if there were more exchanges like this, some of the “messes” we are involved in would never have gone as far as they have. I’ll be traveling through parts of Austria, Switzerland, Italy, and Berlin in October and after an extended trip through Austria last September, I found Vienna’s insouciant ambiance refreshing!

  39. I’d like to know how Rick goes about filming in places. Does he just drop by a cafe and say, “Hi, I’m a travel writer and would like to film your cafe”? Does he ever get turned down? I assume he has to get permission months in advance to film in museums, palaces, castles, etc. We’ve been to Europe many, many times and have always been treated courteously and with respect –except once in Cairo (Africa, obviously) when a persistent perfume seller shouted –after we politely declined to enter his shop, “Go back where you come from! Americans only kill people!” He followed us down the crowded alley maybe 50 feet shouting at the top of his lungs all the way. This incident aside, however, we found the Egyptians to be a very friendly and welcoming people.

  40. I am enjoying Rick Steves’ comments and then I read some of the bloggers telling Rick what to say, telling him to stick to travel only, etc. Hey, folks, this is Rick Steves’ web-site; this is his blog; he can say whatever he wants. He has never been secretive about his social activism (see the social activism section on this web-site).

  41. Again, Rick we are to endure your political agenda to discredit anything Bush to consider your travel insights.

    Why not just state your overall political agenda on each page (liberal, democrat, non-capitalistic (although you certainly miss that one)) then just give the insight into travel that has given you the soapbox access?

  42. Steve, I was sorry to read the second or third hand gossip regarding the Bush visit to Austria. Because of your personal politics, you passed on gossip and not travel experiences. Shame on you. In my sixty-plus years of life, I have learned a few things….. Politics and religion are two topics that are sure to ignite passions. In most situations, these are two sleeping dogs that are best alone if you don’t want to risk being bitten. I am a conservitive Republican with liberal Democrat friends. We have remained friends because we have respectfully agreed to disagree. We have learned to seperate the person from their politics. It’s not always easy, but it’s worth the effort. Some of you should try it. You might find it to be a nice change. I like President Bush, but I don’t like every thing he has done. I also love and support our troops. It is their blood that has kept us safe & free to speak.

  43. I suggest readers RE-READ Rick’s statement carefully. He reported what he saw in the newspaper and what he heard on the street. I was in Vienna last August (on the Aug/GAS tour) and I found most Europeans like us, but do not like what President Bush has done. Anyone going to Europe needs to know this and try to set a good example. Rick is not being political; he’s being accurate. One of the reasons, I travel is to learn other perspectives. Rick, I want you to keep reporting what you hear. Your travel customers want to know what is really going on in Europe. As for those of you “so-called conservative types” who obviously believe in censorship, why don’t you reread the Constitution, especially the part about “Free Speech.

  44. Last time I checked, you could still speak your mind in the U.S.A.. Keep it up,Rick! It’s amazing to me how many folks want us to “just shut up”. No one is forcing them to read your site. Maybe they should try Globus or Unitours, instead, for their travel information.
    We’ve been on 3 of your tours, love your politics, and join you in your beliefs. Keep up the good work! And, go Mick!

  45. After reading all of the comments regarding Rick’s “Political views on the Presidents visit to Vienna”. I was amazed at the criticism. He was just reporting on his trip while in Vienna. That is what reporting is all about, telling what you see and hear. He is not, as so many of you have said, airing his politial views. I enjoy reading and watching his DVD’s on his many trips abroad, that is my way of traveling. If he reports about a certain facet of a trip like what happened during a presidential visit, makes it more interesting. It doesn’t mean a political view pro or con just journalism. But I do agree agree with Mike 7/14 6:35PM, Chris 7/14 7:00 PM, and Jana 7/14 7:48 PM Blogs. And remember this country was based on Freedom, that includes speech and thoughts. We don’t have to like or agree but we should always respect.

  46. I suppose because I remember WWII, thatI feel disrespect for our president, regardless of your political pursuasion is wrong. I remember when Roosevelt was critized because of the way we entered the war, my mother saying, “My country, right or wrong.” AS far as wanting the hotel, I remember a story of Hilary going to Santa Fe and wanting all of a small hotel there and because many people already had reservations she was refused and had to stay in another hotel, taking all of one floor, regardless of who had reservations. Regardless of the way you feel about the war, it is important as long as we are in it to support our president. In doing so you are supporting all of our military there. By not supporting our president while he is in office, you help our enemies. Wait and voice your opinion in the ballot box. I believe Bush is a good man, has made mistakes, but do not believe he has lied. I do know he cares. By the way Rick Steves is a good man too even tho’ I am not liberal.

  47. Rick,

    I love your travel show on PBS, bought your tapes and would give your son an A+ for his travel blog. His writing makes me want to follow his footsteps throughout the world. Every politician states we should focus on education for our children, grandchildren, etc. Part of education is respect for our fellow human being – adults are the ones who need the education – the old politics of years gone by, politicians debated various issues and were friends after they left their job – “they agreed they disagreed”.

    I love travelling the world but I’m also grateful to come back home to the USA and the beautiful State of Hawaii.

    I love reading travel blogs but when politics of one party are injected into the subject, I can’t help but think the same will happen on your tours.

    I agree we disagree, but Rick – I don’t want to read about politics – enough!

    Thanks for listening and keep on traveling!!!

  48. Loved the Story….Glad it was shared with us.Kind of makes Mick and G.W seem like ordinary people! (I dont care for either of them)

  49. Some of the presidential security measures go very much overboard. I’m a private pilot and the president is always surrounded by a 60 nautical mile diameter “no-fly” zone wherever he goes. Can you imagine the inconvenience this causes to the flying public? He’s much more likely to be hit by a car than a single-engine small plane.

  50. Rick actually may not have told the whole story on the extraordinary secrurity surrounding the president’s visit. I happened to be in Germany in February 2005 for Bush’s visit then. Security was incredible, people were talking about it even where I was (nowhere near Bush). I just did a Google search, and came up with this description: Bush’s 2005 Germany Visit (sorry, It’s a socialist party page, I’m not a Socialist, but it’s the best description I could find of the events I remember hearing about at the time). They really did all these things, and are probably doing similar things now. Here’s a current news article I found detailing 12000 police officers and other security measures. We’ve always had tight security surrounding the president, but this just seems over the top.

  51. Hi Rick:
    Welcome to the blog world. I get so angry when some people go overseas and act like such a bafoon that the European thinks all Americans are bafoons.

    I was in Paris a year ago waiting to get on the Elevator of the Eiffle tower, there were a mechanical problem we couldn’t get on. This larger than life Texan and this Lady with a football helmet as a hairdo on top of her head, started shouting and being ugly, because they shut down the Elevator.

    I had to tell them would you rather get on the elevator and it fall down u break your neck or wait a few minutes for them to find what ever is wrong.

    Mind you I’m a New Yorker we don’t like to wait for anything. I find in the whole the Europeans luv Americans it’s just the policy George Bush pratice they don’t like.
    As far as Rick’s opinion that what it is his opinion. This is website he is allowed to express what ever he wants, if you don’t like it or agree don’t come.


  52. We’re not saying you CAN’T say what you want, we’re asking you to avoid it as it alienates us. Free speech is just that, free to say anything which is ok, but you’re also alienating and pissing off half of your readership. Why would you do that?

    Just remember, you can do what you want and that’s the great thing about this country and the rights of the people in this country, which were founded by men who went to war and killed for your rights. People like Jefferson and Washington who openly started a civil war and killed in the name of freedom. Just because we want you to stop saying something because it offends us isn’t the same as telling you that you can’t say it. Know the difference!!

    “Everyone is in favor of free speech. Hardly a day passes without its being extolled, but some people’s idea of it is that they are free to say what they like, but if anyone says anything back, that is an outrage.”
    –Winston Churchill

  53. It amazes me how sensitive supporters of President Bush are.

    If you substituted the name of any other American president into this story, it would still be funny and interesting.

    If the story were about President clinton, in all likelihood the opinions of the President’s supporters here would change 180 degrees.

    Lighten up!!!!!

  54. Rick has given us the opportunity to express our opinions on his website – do you think he might find your opinion offensive? Probably not.

    “Without free speech no search for truth is possible… no discovery of truth is useful… Better a thousandfold abuse of free speech than denial of free speech. The abuse dies in a day, but the denial slays the life of the people, and entombs the hope of the race.”

  55. When I was in Riga in March I talked with several people who said when Bush visited the previous May the whole Old Town seemed to be shut down (for security) and they were dreading his return this fall to a NATO (I think) conference. Perhaps these meetings should be held more out the way, especially since most of the locals have no use for Bush and his policies. Both also said they thought the only reason Latvia sent any troops to Iraq was because their lady president had hopes of becoming UN secretary general, and had to suck up to Bush and US.

  56. Thank you Rick, for all you do, spreading the word and informing us all about travel – and for telling it like it is. I have the utmost respect for you – you not only talk the talk, you also walk the walk. Of course, the Bush-loving brownshirts here always get their panties all in a bunch whenever anyone dares to criticize Dear Leader. So sorry, the rest of the world doesn’t swallow the Fox (Faux) “News” Official Republican Party Propaganda. Personally, I appreciate the political tidbits, and they only make me more appreciative of Rick’s work. Politics is part of the world, folks – stop pretending that what our so-called “administration” does ain’t connected to the world outside your window! If you don’t like people expressing their political views and calling bulls*t on the government, go to someplace where the Republican philosophy is well established – say, North Korea.

  57. Wow! I chide Rick because he tells those of us who disagree with the general European view of America’s policies to keep our mouths shut while we are overseas and I become a brownshirt. Interesting to see how “liberal” a true liberal is.

  58. As a Canadian, I’m going to chance getting into this fray. We have just returned from Peru, where we ran into a group of Americans who were wearing Canadian flags on their jacket. What does this tell you?

  59. Gee, how Eastern-American. A nice travel site turns into a political debate blog. Seems status quo with more political propaganda by those who suckle the cool aide from the DNC and GOP’s teats.

    We had eight years of a pantywaist president who ruled with his pants around his ankles, and eight years of a roughshod cowboy politics. Both sides of this political spectrum have their heads so far up their perspective favorite politician’s keister they can’t see the light.

    The only thing worse than a Republican is a Democrat.

    Peace out.

  60. We have a war criminal in the White House – a combination of Hitler and Nero, only worse! He and his administration are responsible for the deaths of thousands of innocent people! I have heard the same comments in Latin America about Bush. They all hate him. He is now tightening the embargo on Cuba and placing sanctions on any country that sends food and medical supplies there – hoping to cause regime change there and replace it with a U.S. backed dictatorship.

    We need more parties in the U.S. – both present parties favor continuous and everlasting wars. A parlimentary system as they have in Europe would be a move in the right direction.

  61. I so disagree that travel has nothing to do with politics. If we can only share our political views and thoughts with those in our travels, maybe we can get a better understanding of each other. I feel that Rick Steves has probably influenced this more than we realize. Many of us first toured Europe with his book (can’t count the number of “back door” books I saw in Rothenburg), then we got confident and started finding our own back doors, especially after talking with the locals. I remember getting in a conversation with a guy over coffee on the Left Bank in Paris. He wanted to talk about politics and we talked for 2 hours. I’d like to think he has a better idea of North Americans and I now understand why so many French are socialists. By the way, he told me about this great local restaurant where the fantastic food and wine was half the price of the usual tourist haunts.

  62. Yes, in my travels to Europe I’ve found that many want to discuss politics.

    It seems the U.S. is more divided now that it has been in a long time. Remember, united we stand, divided we fall.

    We all have opinions and may not agree, but it doesn’t make us bad people nor does it need to be a reason to insult each other. Let’s just continue enjoying Rick’s books and “keep on traveling.” I’m looking forward to seeing Vienna someday and enjoying a concert or two!

  63. Hey Happy traveler I’m with you. Have a good time while traveling. Be happy, show respect of the country you are in, if not, if you don’t like it, leave. Why is it SOME American Travelers have to be so impatient, intolerant, loud, and just plain nasty and insulting. The real Ugly American. Always comparing, critizing, or insulting other cultures. When you travel it is about learning their culture and respecting their ways. Happy, relaxing traveling.

  64. I read Rick Steves because I want to learn about travel. If I want to learn about Politics I will go to Blogspots or News web sites. Please can we stay on topic or will I have to look for travel information somewere else.

  65. amsterdam,bacharach,fussen,venizia,rome. I highly recommend all of these places .I hope Don has or will be traveling to some of these spots,they are truly some of the most beautiful places on earth.I know rick and his group are the primary reason for our trip being so incredible.venice had flags flying throughout the canals.they had Pace written on them,(PEACE).they were flown by those opposed to the war.The Vatican was like a dream world.then again amsterdam was kinda dream world like to!the castles, the romans….traveling to europe makes me feel more like a part of the human race,not just a citizen of america.

  66. I visited Vienna in February 2006. As we proceeded down the street on a blisteringly cold day, we observed the Hotel Imperial from the outside, and knew we had to take a quick peek. After all, Brad and Angelina were there five days prior. We were all adorned with furry tourist hats, beanies, jeans and scarfs; we held brotworst and cokes in our hands; and we noisily rustled our souvenir bags as we entered the lobby of the Hotel Imperial. The lobby staff virtually disappeared upon our arrival [we theorized to call the police re: vagabonds in the vicinity]. However, notwithstanding the fact that we clearly weren’t guests of the hotel, we were able to make ourselves at home, read the International Tribune, take pictures, and of course finish the brotworst while trying to minimize the crumb droppage on the opulent couches. It was a small highlight just to be enveloped in such elegance and warmth, if for only twenty minutes.

  67. Beautiful story,nicely told!did You hear anything about mick or george w ?Just kidding.What else did you do there?

  68. Fox News fans: welcome to the world of blogging, where the opinions expressed are those of the writer.

    You should be used to bias considering your “news” source.

    PS I note that this ostensibly offensive “political” anecdote has several times more responses than the other entries!

  69. Well…I just can’t believe yall. Any real American knows that speaking against the Government is treason and sould be punished by death. I don’t care if the Government spies on us for no reason…I don’t care if the Government kills “innocent” people around the world. We all have to realise that America is THE super power and that Americans are the SUPER RACE. Personal political ideas have no place in a nation that was founded on the idea of government for the people and by the people. Do not discuss politics…Do not think about politics. Watch T.V. and let the all powerful government worry about your future. KILL KILL KILL KILL KILL KILL KILL!!!

  70. Recently, the VP visited San Francisco, the problems caused by the visit were headlines for days. Perhaps the security is required. What the middle of the road citizens felt was lacking was compasion for the regular people being harrased by the visit. The hotel he stayed at was still “allowing” people to stay in their multi storied facility, but the Sercret Service would not allow them to use the elevator. There was no choice in this luxury (and really expensive) hotel but to hoof it up and down the stairs 20 stories up. And no one had the class to even discount their stay. I have to say if you need to function like no one else exists, then you need to pay for the whole hotel.

  71. Dana – Did you ever think that maybe some people are just more important then you?

  72. Arent “all men created equal?”I agree there should be more consideration given to us less important citizens.I would be very upset to stay at any hotel without the use of elevators.(bad knees,back,and hip.)Stairs can be quite painful for me. I must admit I have shook hands with a Vice President,and the Secret Service isnt joking about security.I moved a couple of feet and an Agent I had been interacting with all day,was on me instantly.There was no mistaking who was in charge of everything in the area.They did the walkie talkie earpiece thing and all! I was given some very specific instruction , after I asked permission for the handshake ,if the V.P. should walk by.Pretty cool because the V.P got out of his armored suv and walked straight for me.I figure he saw the scolding I had gotten ,and took pity on me!He was Al Gore, and yes I would have to admit He was more important than little ole me…..but when he shook my hand and looked me right in the eye,he made me feel important to!

  73. Rick….love your blog and glad that you add your own personal insight and opinion. That is why I read your blog and buy your books! Should you be saying supportive things about Bush, from you or elsewhere, people against him would be complaining and those for him would be praising you. Keep doing what your doing…there are enough of us out here who appreciate, enjoy and YES…agree!! THANKS for all the great reads!

  74. It seems to me that, considering that the Austrians were pretty unfriendly with GW trying to get the hotel room he wanted, the extensive security measures make sense. If a neighborhood has made it plain that they don’t want you there, you might need to assume that someone could take that unfriendliness a bit farther.

  75. I support G.W. Bush, and all Patriotic Americans should be thankful for what He has done for our Country, and the World!”Boy, everyone is stupid, except me.”;Homer(Simpson)

  76. We really enjoy traveling with your guide books. It changes my feelings toward you as a person to read your political views. I feel like your forte is guiding people to enjoyment through Europe. I hope you will consider your political view distastful to at least 50% of your viewers.

    It doesn’t mix to put politics and vacations together and I doubt that I am alone in this opinion.

    Edith Hebert

  77. It’s Rick’s blog, he can write what he wants…if you don’t like it don’t come back. I dobt very much whether you’ll be missed.

  78. YIKES!!! So many Americans get all bent out of shape when they hear that other countries don’t like our little “Bushy” prez!!!

    Alas, most Americans don’t realize that outside if the U.S. of A right now, most countries don’t really care for us anymore, its not the 80’s anymore when everyone wanted Levi’s blue jeans and T shirts

    Someday when us Americans have been sent back to 2nd world status and the Chinese become number 1 we will finally realize that Iraq was the beginning of the end for your civilization.

    But until that day, You go Rick and keep giving your insights as you see it, don’t let the Neo-cons get to ya!

  79. Could you help me. Because we don’t think about future generations, they will never forget us. I am from Angola and bad know English, give true I wrote the following sentence: “But because you didn bother to try to get a cheap airline ticket.” :o Thanks in advance. Fruma.

  80. Greeting. I find it rather easy to portray a businessman. Being bland, rather cruel and incompetent comes naturally to me. I am from Leone and also now am reading in English, please tell me right I wrote the following sentence: “Physician reviewed emedastine ophthalmic patient information includes emedastine ophthalmic description, emedastine is an anti allergic medication.To have antiinflammatory, anti allergic, antiviral and anticarcinogenic properties.” With respect :D, Tug.

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