As host and writer of the popular public television series Rick Steves' Europe, and best-selling author of over 50 European travel books, Rick Steves encourages Americans to travel as "temporary locals." He helps American travelers connect much more intimately with Europe — and Europeans — for a fraction of what mainstream tourists pay. Mike and I have watched these shows for years and love Rick’s humor and practical approach to traveling. We hope to visit a few of the highlighted European locations someday.
Rick grew up in Edmonds, Washington about 50 miles from our home (via a ferry ride from Kingston to Edmonds) and this is where we get our SUV serviced. Our vehicle had an appointment for servicing yesterday and we made plans to combine little work with a little pleasure by visiting the Rick Steves’ Travel Center in the old downtown district.
In 1976, Rick Steves started Europe Through the Back Door (ETBD), a Edmonds-based business which has grown from a one-man operation to a company with a well-traveled staff of 80 full-time employees. ETBD offers free travel information through its travel center, website (www.ricksteves.com), European Railpass Guide, and free travel newsletters. ETBD also runs a successful European tour program with more than 450 departures — attracting around 11,000 travelers — annually.
The Center is very understated and not really a tourist destination. But, it was fun to see Rick’s hometown of Edmonds, Washington, pick up some travel information and view Rick’s office which overlooks his old junior high school.