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Rick Steves

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Europe's Memorable Signage

Posted: 08/25/2012 9:08 am

Twelve years ago, we made a three-part Travel Skills Special for public television. We did our best to make it timeless. Now we are dedicating 18 days to producing an updated, three-part Travel Skills Special, which is part of our new 14-episode series that begins airing this fall. For me, as a travel teacher, it's a delight to have reason to get down to the basic skills of travel.

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Each Car Is Clearly Marked


Revisiting our Travel Skills Special, I'm impressed at how Europe has changed. Visually, there's been a huge leap in sleek architecture, aerodynamically designed trains and electronic signage. With this series, you'll know to check outside the car: This one, going from Munich to Dortmund, is first-class, non-smoking, and quiet, and prohibits the use of cell phones.

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Can't Touch This: No, No, No, No, No.


While filming our new Travel Skills Special, we spent a couple of days looking for road signs to help teach the basic tips. It took time because people seem to enjoy defacing road signs with decals and graffiti. This fun bit of urban art in Antwerp might have made our work much easier. But talk about negative!

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Your Language Always Makes the Cut


For thirty years, I've been taking photos of this kiosk in Bruges (where people buy tickets for a canal boat tour) to illustrate how, when it comes to the language barrier, anyone who wants your money will tell you how to spend it in whatever languages are necessary -- and English always makes the cut. Another lesson: Even if you don't speak the language of a sign, with a little logic and confidence, you and guess the meaning of most.

 

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