March News from Rick: Happy New App!
|My new Rick Steves Audio Europe app includes free audio tours of Europe's greatest sights, and lots more.|
On my last visit to Venice, I got the thrill of road-testing a prototype of my Rick Steves Audio Europe™ app (which we've just released — for free!). I got out my iPhone, plugged in those little white ear buds, and let my digital voice guide me on an audio tour down the Grand Canal. Sitting on the front seat of the vaporetto, enjoying the narration of the palaces floating by, was a delight. (It reminded me of how I used to commandeer the front view seats of the same slow boat down the Grand Canal back in the 1970s as a young tour guide and bark out a cruder version of that same narration to my groups.) Completely settled in, both physically and intellectually, I simply absorbed the ride — thoroughly enjoying one of Europe's great experiences.
Then I jumped off the boat to try out my audio tour of the Frari Church — one of those rare places where you can see great art in situ exactly where, centuries ago, those Venetian artistic superstars designed it to be enjoyed. There I was, focused...just me and the greatest Venetian art, enjoying it for the first time without needing to read from a guidebook.
The experience came with a new kind of harmony. Hearing about the art at the very moment you are seeing it heightens your appreciation. It all sinks in more deeply and fluidly than the disconnectedness of having your eyes jump back and forth from book to masterpiece, again and again. It frees you up to maximize your focus, and be in the artistic moment.
Starting this week, you can enjoy traveling with my free Rick Steves Audio Europe app, too. At your fingertips you'll have my vast library of audio files — 25 self-guided tours and 200 tracks of travel tips and cultural insights from my radio show — in country-specific playlists covering all of Europe. Over a year in the making, this free app is impressive in its simplicity (not its complexity). It's so easy your grandmother can use it. The files live on your iPhone (or iPad or iPod Touch) so you can listen to it anywhere, any time, with no data charges. Yes, it's really that good. (We'll have an Android version soon, check back with us for a release date.)
In this month's Travel News you can watch a video about our snazzy app which you can download for free. You can also watch a video clip on Florence's Uffizi Gallery (an audio walking tour of which is included in my Audio Europe app). You can also read my annual roundup of what's new in Italy for travelers, tips for making connections by rail, a midnight travel tale from Sevilla, and advice from our readers on how to get the most out of a 3G smartphone in Europe.
I hope you can join us.