Rick Steves' Great Britain & Ireland 1998 (Serial)

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9781562613877: Rick Steves' Great Britain & Ireland 1998 (Serial)
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Featuring the facts on the best sights and activities in Great Britain and Ireland, this handy guide tells travelers how to experience the British and Irish cultures, people, and natural wonders economically and without hassles. Steves includes information on London, the Cotswolds, Bath, York, Edinburgh, and other areas, offering clear directions on transportation. 35 maps .

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Review:

Rick Steves began traveling, and writing about travel, at the age of 14. Since then--some 20 years now--he's developed his passion into his livelihood with a series of guide books, a Web site, a tour company, and a public television show. By only covering only what he considers to be "the best," his approach to travel sets him apart from the logorrheic references that try to pack in exhaustive details about every city, sight, and sleeping arrangement in a three-country area. Seeking out "the best" doesn't mean taking the most expensive options; as Steves defines it, going after the top attractions means using your travel time--and your money--wisely, seeing what's representative of the countries you plan to visit, and allowing room for "magic moments" and "Back Door" experiences.

This guide to Great Britain and Ireland was written and organized based on the assumption that you have a limited amount of time in which to travel. Steves covers the "predictable biggies (Big Ben, Stratford, bagpipes, and the Book of Kells)" and mixes in "a healthy dose of Back Door intimacy (nearly edible Cotswold villages, Gaelic folk pubs...)" It's the sort of book you should read for preplanning information--if you're staying for only three days, for example, stick to London, but if you're staying for five days, you might add Bath, or the Cotswolds, or Blenheim to your itinerary. You'll also want to have the book in your knapsack as you head out the door of your B&B for a day of excursions. Each chock-a-block section gives a quick introduction to an area (North Wales, Belfast, Bath, etc.) and offers advice on how to plan your time, then covers the sights, accommodations, food stops, and transportation. The sights are rated according to Steves's evaluation: three triangles means don't miss it (Cliffs of Moher), two triangles mark the sights that you should try hard to see (Tintern Abbey), a single triangle denotes sites that are "worthwhile if you can make it"(Harrods), and no rating means the attraction is worth knowing about (Inverness).

What finally makes Rick Steves' Great Britain & Ireland 1998 such a delight is that Steves's affinity for traveling, and for Great Britain and Ireland, is evident on every page. His personality is infused throughout, both in the casual, first-person voice and in the details he chooses to include about the destinations. In the section on Blackpool, "Britain's fun puddle," he writes that "it's an ears-pierced-while-you-wait, tipsy-toupee kind of place. Tacky, yes. Lowbrow, okay. But ... Blackpool is as English as the Queen--and even more fun." --Heidi Robinson

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