Ireland, Rick Steves, Europe discussed on Travel with Rick Steves


Had to always be aware of that because we didn't really have anything in particular in mind and then in Paris we went out to film the big skyscrapers in la defense and we came upon this massive city to judge. And it's like it was just so oddball, but it's classic one up and then it's like we all like to use to go get up and get on their bed. Get up, get off there. Whenever we can squeeze in a little bit of serendipity a little moment like that. It's like, hey, yeah, let's just do it. I felt like Lily Tomlin, if that's a member when she used to sit in that giant chair. And I thought, well, we're celebrating art. Simon Griffith is the producer of my Rick Steves Europe TV series. He's with us now on travel with Rick Steves for some behind the scenes stories from our latest filming project. The 6 hour mini series called Rick Steves art of Europe. Our European travels have really nurtured a love and admiration for the great art and architecture you'll find there. We filmed hour long episodes from the Stone Age and ancient Greece and Rome through the Middle Ages and renaissance right up to the modern age. The series is premiering this month on public TV stations across the U.S.. And as producer, what are your feelings about the thing when you just look at the project knowing that people are watching it around the country right now? Oh, this is extraordinary. It's a rewarding feeling because it's just a kind of synthesis of not just European history, but for us it's 22 years of actually working and bringing all this stuff together. And then in giving it meaning giving a context, I'm very happy the way that shows you come out. I think people will learn a lot about the story of you. Over the years, we've shot most of this stuff in the context of a travelogue. I mean, here's what you do in Brussels. Here's what you do in Barcelona. Here's what you do in Athens, but we've never done it in that context with the sweep of the story of Europe, and it's just so great that our love of art now is being able to be of broadcast and shared throughout the country. Right now, thanks to public broadcasting. Simon, thank you so much for being my partner in this and joining us today in radial land. Thanks, Rick. It's been a pleasure. Simon and I remember the surprise we encountered when we drove out to do some filming at Europe's largest neolithic stone circle in England. It's in an extra from today's conversation. You can listen to it from our website. Rick Steves dot com slash radio. We'll get ideas for enjoying the countryside of Austrian a bit, but first we have a lot of Ireland to explore. That's next on travel with Rick Steves. Hello, my name is Barry maloney from county cork and the south coast of Ireland. I've got one about Irish Scottish English to quote by George Orwell, kind of sums it up he said the English and unhappy unless they're miserable. The Irish are not a peace unless they're at war. And the Scots are not at home unless they're abroad. Well, let's start provoking. Barry did you have another one? Common question is what's the English impression of the Irish? Yeah. And they always look at us with a kind of a bit of a puzzlement, you know. Winston Churchill summed that up. He said we have always found the Irish a bit odd. They refused to be English. So there you go. 20 years ago, my guidebook covering the British Isles was called Great Britain and Ireland. That's terrible. I didn't know Ireland well enough to do a book just on that. And people in Ireland and people in Britain, they deserve their own guidebook. One of my tour guides, paddle Connor, sat me down and explained why we must free Ireland from the British. Pat talked me into co authoring a guidebook just on Ireland, and this year we're celebrating the 20th edition of that book and pat joins us right now to share some of his Irish favorites. Pat. Thanks for being here. Great to be here, Rick. Thanks. Boy, pat you have you travel all over Europe, but you have a certain passion for Ireland. How many tours have you led for us on Ireland? In the mid 70s, 75 ish. The best of Ireland, you can do that for over 20 years. I'm so thankful you cornered me in my office that day and woke me up to the need for an Ireland guidebook and you've updated it with passion. What have you learned from your tourists? What they enjoy the most, what experiences provide the magic moments, you know, we always ask people, what are your magic moments? And what are your challenges as a guy? What have they been as you've worked with your American travelers appreciating Irish nature and culture? What are the highlights? Well, so people need to understand that Ireland really is a damp and moist and green place. It wouldn't be so green if it wasn't damp, you're as far north as the Alaskan Panhandle. So beach lovers, sun lovers, really they're not drawn to Ireland initially. But the people I know the people are just the amazing thing that really grows on you. There's no Eiffel Tower. There's no Alps or coliseum, but the longer you're there, the more you connect with the people, and particularly musically and in pubs, that's where I find the magic happen. So this is really insightful pat. It's like, to me, it's a lush island, and that comes with rain, obviously. We live in the northwest. I love the evergreen state, and I feel like I live in a terrarium. You don't complain about The Rain, The Rain is a blessing. And the same in Ireland, and you've got that conviviality. And when I think of the places where I know the most people per mile in all my years of researching, Italy, and Ireland, there's something about that joy of life and that accessibility that let's just get together and chat, you know. Now you've been doing this for 20 years. How is Ireland changed? Would you say in 20 years? Well, there's many more cars on the road now, a Rick Ireland became more affluent in the last generation or two, and when I first started traveling their way back in 1981, there'd be one family car, and now just like in the states, mom and dad each have a car and the eldest youngster may. So it's become traffic congested, especially in Dublin proper. The economy has certainly gone up and down. I mean, I remember the bleak days when everybody was on the door, it seemed like, and they were frustrated. And then you got the Celtic Tiger economy, and then that crashed, and then where are we since that? Because we had that huge bike up with a Celtic Tiger. And then it did come down. It did a bubble. It did. Where are we now? Would you say that? Ireland really recovered from that faster than other nations that were having banking problems, for example, Greece was on the griddle as well at the same time, and the Irish really responded very responsibly financially and they're back on track and their savvy businessmen all the way across the board. Because for a lot of international companies, they see Ireland as a great place to set up because of the low tax rate. The corporate tax rate. The corporate tax rate and the availability of educated people who are not that expensive to hire. That's right. English speaking educated people that are not that expensive to hire. And Ireland is the English speaking country that uses the Euro. So in terms of business. With Brexit, that's a huge deal. That's right, that's exactly right. So London exits the scene from the financial world as far as EU is concerned and suddenly they need to there's a huge advantage when your international banking with English and Ireland is there. That's right. Now, with the recent affluence of Ireland, we see better food. When you and I started traveling in Ireland, it made English food look good. That's true. And now I'm blown away at the creativity and the international flair, the fusion, and so on. That's right. Irish chefs who may have left for a generation to find better opportunities have come home, especially during the Celtic Tiger, and in a town like kinsale or Dublin, you can find some really Gourmet restaurants that hold their own against most other big European. You can still go to a run of the mill tiny town in the countryside and have just one pub to eat in. That's right. But you go to a resort town, a wealthy little town in the south coast like kinsale. Kinsale. Yeah, kinsale is a beautiful little coastal town that attracts a lot of yachters, so there's a fair amount of money that comes in and out of kinsale in a way, but it has grown with the rise of the expatriate chefs coming home. And I remember there's a guy who was just a globetrotter and he loves food and he came back with his partner and they'd start a restaurant and all of a sudden it's a hit. It's like a mom and pop place. That's right. Kinsale is sort of the self described Gourmet capital of Ireland. I thought I was put off by that at first because this self proclaimed Gourmet capital. But I'll tell you, there's a lot of good restaurants. Oh, there's some fantastic restaurants. This is travel with Rick Steves, and we're talking with pat O'Connor. And as you might imagine from his name, he's long had a love for the country of his ancestors. Pets the senior Ireland tour guide and consultant at Rick Steves Europe he's the co author of my Ireland guidebooks and he's also been leading tours of Ireland now for more than 20 years in pet joins us now with his well earned tips for enjoying the emerald isle. Pet, you know, for ages when people thought of Ireland, they thought of the troubles. Is Ireland united? No, the northern and part of Ireland is ruled from London, and the southern 75% is independent and ruled from Dublin. How bad was it, and how is it now? And how did they manage to get where they are now? Well, boy, Rick, my first time to Ireland was in 1981 during the maze prison hunger strikes in the north and it was a really sad and tragic time in Ireland. But things have really turned around since then. That's 40 years ago now. So the troubles, it's been two steps forward, one step back. It's a healthy evolution, and I think the more generations that grow up in Ireland without bloodshed, the more it will be in the rearview mirror for people to be my sense was there was a lot of moderates that they had their Catholic heritage and their Irish Republican heritage, or their unionist and their Protestant heritage. But they were moderates and they're willing to live together, but they were extremists that could quite easily do something terroristic and blow the middle into the fringes and then they'd have all this sort of violence. Polarized. And then they got pretty smart about it. They realized this is quite costly for their society on both sides. And they actually had initiatives where they would let the kids get to know each other and grow away from the heritage of hate and fear that they got from their parents. And that younger generation really realized that we can share this island. You know, Rick they had camps for both Catholic and Protestant kids mixed together to try and alleviate this. And it's not an easy process, but it is getting better. Would you say it's safe to travel in the north of Ireland now? Absolutely. No concern. Absolutely. And I think the northern coast is as pretty as any part of Ireland, so don't avoid it up there. As a matter of principle, when I think of a trip to Ireland, it has to include the north. There's no reason not to go up into the north. And in the future, do you feel like it's solid? Or do you feel like it's fragile? The piece? Yeah. I do think it's solid, but I think that the Brexit tension is an irritant right now. And it's not going to really affect travelers as much as it's going to affect business. It's a tariff thing at the border. I don't see them checking passports, but because up until now with the EU with Britain in the EU before Brexit, they had that beautiful free trade. That's right. And now something that is fundamental to Brexit, the exit of Britain is you don't have free trade and that cuts to Ireland and half from a trade point of view, which is a complication. It is. It'll be interesting to follow that. Pat, when I think of Ireland, I think of the gift of gab. You know, I met a guy I think you know him even o'rourke and he picked me up when I was hitchhiking when I was a kid. And I was just reading my journal. I hadn't read this journal for literally 40 years, and I thought, I'm going to try to get ahold of emon. And I remember he was just in his little town castle well in Northern Ireland. He was even the plumber. I mean, because there's two humans, there was even the Carpenter and even the plumber. And I remember even way back then, I came into the town and I would go, do you know where I'd find emen, and they'd say, even the plumber or even the Carpenter? And it's so fun to think that they're so intimate that way. But I found him on the phone and we just rekindled our conversation, just last year. From what we had 40 years ago, and I remember hanging out with him and we'd be in a conversation and the sun would set, it would get dark and we'd forget to turn on the lights, we'd be talking in the dark. It was just so enthralling the conversation. What's your best trick for meeting locals and having those kind of person to person memories? You know, asking people for directions is truly a way to connect, and also asking them to take your picture when you're somewhere where you can't take a picture of yourself and you start a conversation that way. Just a little excuse. You know, ask somebody, if you're walking through a town, stop and ask them a question, and then be open to chat. That's right. That's right. You see somebody and you, hey, could you do me a favor? Take my picture here. And then you say, I love your town. What's the story? Yeah, yeah, exactly. You know, Rick, on my first trip in 81, I was out on inch more one of the aran islands off the West Coast, and there was a real cute little red headed girl playing with her friends in the driveway, and I asked her, could I take your picture, please? And she was holding her kitten and it was just a lovely little photo, and I treasured it. And then a dozen years later, I came back and I happened to have that photo with me and it was just a really fun moment where I was in the one and only little restaurant at the crossroads in kilronan and I was paying the bill and I held up the photo and I said, I've been looking for this little girl. She used to live down the road 14 years ago when I was here, do you know where she is? And they said, oh, that's Susie gill. And I said, where is she? And they said, well, she's in the back. We'll bring her out. And sure enough, there she came. True story. You know, that is so interesting because I used to years ago I'd say bring a ziploc baggie with postcards from your home or pictures of your family or whatever. And now we've always got that our phones, we got our photography there, and you could go back and you could do that. What a great way to connect. You mentioned Aaron islands. And my memory of the Rhode Island is the little folk dance club there was the students that did their small town version of Riverdale ragusa. I understand they're not in business anymore. Unfortunately, no, they've moved on. And I was going to ask in 20 years of music and dance, and that kind of entertainment in Ireland. How has that changed, the way they called their traditional folk music trad? And it's not just like square dancing here in the United States. It is honestly the pop culture, the trendy, this is where it's at. Absolutely. People of all generations in Ireland are listening to trad music and you go to a place like dingle that has a fantastic live music and pub sos musicians are there by choice. This isn't a little backstreet, you know, hiding place they go to dingle gravitate there because they know the best musicians. As long as I've been going to Ireland, about 30 years, there's the buzz is where's the music scene, you know, and for a long time there's a little nothing town called doolin, which is always for some quirky reason whether it's great music, Ennis, I find as great music. Galloway, dingle Peninsula. Of course, Dublin because that's where the big gigs are. Are those still the big places for music today? They are, but in a place like Dublin, you're going to see quite a bit of it on stage and maybe not quite as authentic. You have to sort of really ask locals for the traditional Irish pubs that are true. There is a pub and Galway called the crossroads. And they've got a big mural on the wall. I don't know if you remember this pub, and there's a fire, it's just in the middle of the rural farmland, two roads cross. Yeah. And that's all you need for a gathering, and the people from all four angles of that road would come together. They built a fire, and they make music. Yeah. And that's what that pub is today in the middle of Galway. It's a crossroads. That's exactly right. And it's not famous. They're not big shots there, but they are people who know their music and love their music and that session just takes on a life of its own and if you've had a Guinness and you're into it. And everything's going just right. There's not a better experience in Ireland. Oh, it's a treasure. What's your tip for getting the most out of the music scene in Ireland? Well, if you really want to check out the music scene, you want to be in the pubs early enough to get a decent seat near where the musicians are going to set up. So you can see, for example, in illin piper, the Irish version of the bagpipes, these guys are fascinating the way they make music out of wrestling with an octopus is what it looks like. They make great music. The island pipes, that's like the Irish bagpipe. It is wrestling with in October. That's kind of what it looks like. Very musical octopus. Oh, yeah, exactly. It's got more octaves than Scottish bagpipes, and you can kind of bend the notes. So it's a beautiful instrument. And then when they don't own a Scottish one, they're blowing it to fill it up, but with the Irish one, you fill it with the bellows. Underneath one elbow. Pad O'Connor has been researching and writing the Rick Steves Ireland guidebook for 20 years. We're celebrating his achievements and the many charms of Ireland he's uncovered for us right now on travel with Rick Steves. We have a link to a video presentation about touring Ireland that pat hosted a few years ago. You'll find it with this week's show at Rick Steves dot com slash radio. Pat, I think more than in most countries there is a tourist trap route in Ireland and then there's the rest of the country. What is the tourist trap route around the country? What is every big bus, the 5 top stops? They all stop at blarney castle outside of cork, they all stop at killarney. The tourist town with the beautiful lakes in Dublin, they hit the Guinness brewery pretty hard, and they hit the book of kells. The cultural treasure of Ireland and the Trinity College library. And then up in the north in Belfast, the Titanic Belfast is also pretty heavily. The button ready castle. Did he mention that? But yeah, well, bun ready castle, there's actually three castles that do castle banquets in the west and bunratty is very close to Shannon airport in Ennis. So it's the most big, big tour buses. And then the ring of Kerry is everybody's the ring of Kerry. So they're not bad, but you can do alternatives to those that are much more real and much less painted green with little limericks and leprechauns everywhere. I think the Titanic and the book of kells. Those are real cultural experiences. They are put up with anyways. The other ones, I think you could find alternatives. Also, there's the riverdance thing, they've sure milked that, haven't they? But it comes less now. Yeah. And then you got famous names in Ireland. It's so interesting. I mean, people just want to go to tipperary because they've heard of it. What are the big famous names that you can say, well, it's a nice name, but you don't need to go there. Well, limerick and cork God bless them. Our household names, but I'd rather be sleeping in kinsale than cork in kinsale as just a half an hour down the road in closer to the airport. So keep your bar high. Don't just go to the famous places. It could be good, but there are alternatives. There definitely are. They don't have the promotion. And if the place has promotion, that means it's got golf courses and big hotels that accommodate tour groups and reasons for mass tourism to embrace it, throw money at it and shape our perspective of how we should prioritize when we put our Irish dreams into an itinerary. We prefer the sleigh head loop around the tip of the dingle Peninsula over the ring of Kerry. It isn't as touristed and is more intimate. It's so fun to talk to you and to celebrate Ireland. I know Ireland is special to you. To me it is, I love all of Europe, but it is so uniquely lovable. It was never conquered by the Romans. It's the only former colony in Europe, I believe. That's right. And it's a place with a small population in a huge Diaspora. I mean, what do they say there's 30 million Irish Americans? Over 40 million. 40 million. And so it's an amazing island in so many quirky ways, what is your explanation for why Ireland is just so darn beloved? Well, I know it sounds cliche, but it truly is the people. I mean, when you meet an Irish person oversees somewhere, maybe not in Ireland, they really stand out and you find yourself attracted to a conversation with them. Now go to their homeland and let their pride show and all the way across the board that people are the real treasure. And that's our challenge to connect with the people and it's easier to connect with the people in Ireland than anywhere anywhere else. That's so true. Patrick O'Connor, thanks so much for being with us and happy travels on more great adventures. Thank you. It's my pleasure. It's actually the second city of Austria, not far from the borders of Slovenia and Hungary. A tour guide from draughts tells us about the corners of Austria where you'll find vineyards, castles, and champion horses grazing on green hillsides. Under a wolf takes your calls next at 877-333-7425 as we explore the fine points of Austria beyond Vienna and Salzburg. On travel with Rick Steves. Once upon a time it was the heart of a vast empire that ruled over 60 million people. Today, the landlocked republic of Austria has about 9 million residents who enjoy what consistently ranks as one of the highest quality of life ratings in the world. Of course, its main city Vienna is a must see capital for

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