My wife and I love to travel. At last count we have visited 21 other countries. That isn't a brag, by the way, as one thing that happens when you start to travel is that you meet others who have travelled a great deal more than you. There is a Facebook app that allows you to input all the places you've been and then it tells you how much of the world you've seen. I think I'm at 5% so there is a lot more for me to discover. But I digress, as much as I love to travel it can be a very daunting experience. I remember pulling into Budapest in the middle of the night. The Cold War-era train station was dark and foreboding. All of the signage and advertisements were in a language I couldn't begin to understand. The people were hunched over and in a hurry. Faces were anything but friendly. For a moment it was quite scary trying to figure out where we needed to go and what to do. World travel can often be like that. It is nice to have a guide.
My wife and I always travel with some sort of guide book to give us helpful hints along our ways. Whenever we enter a new country or city, we try to find the local tourist station as well to get maps and information that will guide us as well. After using and reading many a guide we've found Rick Steves' books to be among the most helpful. Steves has been traveling Europe for decades now and his books include all the information a tourist needs plus they are full of helpful advice on how to get the most out of you dollar (or Euro, or Forint, or Pound, or…). Younger travelers might prefer other books with more details on local clubs and bars, but I prefer the middle-aged comforts of Rick Steves all the way.
When we are home, my wife and I often watch travel shows and map out all the new places that we want to go to (or old ones we want to revisit.) Once again we're big fans of Rick Steves: Europe programs and watch them with lustful eyes dreaming of being there right with him. His shows are always informative, interesting, and a great way to view all the places one might want to travel to in Europe and beyond.
That's why my Pick of the Week this time is a boxed set of all 100 shows dating from 2000-2014. Its 14 disks of travel containing all episodes plus a bonus disk with two special episodes "European Travel Skills" and "Travel as a Political Act." This set comes only in the standard DVD set and it should be noted that many of the episodes are getting Blu-ray releases this week as well.
Other things out this week that look interesting:
Detective De Luca: A fascinating Italian crime drama set during Mussolini's Fascist regime. Read my full review.
My Neighbor Tortoro & How's Moving Castle: Two marvelous movies from Studio Ghibli get the Blu-ray treatment.
Mel Brooks: Make a Noise (American Masters): The excellent PBS series documents the funny man's life and career. I've not seen this yet, but American Masters is always good and I have no doubt they'll do a good job with Brooks.
Best of Warner Brothers Cartoons - Hanna Barbera: Two disks full of classic cartoons.
True Blood: The Complete Fifth Season: I've never made it past the first season of this vampire drama, but I'm still keeping it in my queue.
Side Effects: Steven Soderbergh is unpredictable as a director. He makes big-budget summer flicks and small, independent films. This is his take on the psychological thriller. I know nothing more than that but I'm willing to give it a chance.
Beautiful Creatures: I know absolutely nothing about this film, and yet am still drawn to watch it. Kristen Lopez writes, it's "a solid supernatural story worth watching."
Stand Up Guys: Alan Arkin, Al Pacino and Christopher Walken play retired gangsters who reunite for one last score. I can't imagine this will actually be any good, but with those actors I'm willing to give it a try.
Ultimate Gangsters Collection: Classics (Little Caesar/The Public Enemy/The Petrified Forest/White Heat) (Blu-ray): A nice little collection of some good classic gangster flicks.
Medium Cool (Criterion Blu-ray): An experimental film that mixes actors with real life people on the streets during the 1968 Democratic Convention. Sounds interesting.