Program 257a: Potsdam; Athens; Open Phones: Favorite Cities

Release Date: 06-15-2013

On Air Description

We’re taking a closer look at a few of our favorite cities on this week’s Travel with Rick Steves.  We’ll get inspired to explore the historical riches of Potsdam, Germany... and we’ll hear how Athens, Greece has grown into a visitor-friendly destination, complete with a new Acropolis museum.  We’ll also get a dispatch from adventure cyclist Willie Weir from his favorite square in Madrid, and we’ll open the phones for your nominations for a favorite city to explore.

Be an earwitness to the world... with Travel with Rick Steves. 

Notes to Stations

This is a re-edit of Program #257, which first aired August 20, 2011.


  • travel writer Neil Taylor, author of the Footprints Pocket Guide to Berlin
  • Greek tour guide Anastasia Gaitanou
  • dispatch from travel writer-bicycle adventurer Willie Weir

Related Links

  • Neil Taylor co-authored the now out-of-print Berlin guide from the Footprints Pocket guidebook series (now called Footprints Focus guides).
  • Neil currently authors guidebooks on the Baltic region for the Bradt Guides series:
  • Wikipedia has a detailed entry on Potsdam, including photos of the Glienicke Bridge.
  • A short interview with tour guide Anastasia Gaitanou.
  • Rick provides a free audio walking tour of Athens.
  • Psyrri and Monastiraki are the old town neighborhoods Anastasia recommends exploring in Athens.
  • Rick says that the new Acropolis Museum is one of the best in Europe.
  • Willie Weir describes Madrid's Plaza Mayor. Willie’s latest book of travel observations is called “Travels with Willie.”
  • The English immersion program in Spain that caller Sarah attended is called “VaughanTown,” and operates in several locations in Spain
  • A blogger called “The Professional Hobo” describes her experiences at the Valdelavilla VaughnTown location.


  • “Are Greeks open to making friends with travelers? How could my teenage daughters and I safely make Greek friends on our trip?” (Carlee in Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania)
  • Seeking advice on inexpensive accommodations in Athens, such as a B&B, for a single female traveler. (Louanne in Ravenna, Ohio)
  • Favorite cities are in Ireland, “both Dublin and the small town of Youghal, on the southern, east coast of Ireland. It's where they filmed Moby Dick in the 1950's. As a woman alone, I always felt safe and welcome in Ireland.” (Elizabeth in Sacramento)
  • Describes Garmisch, Germany, in Bavaria, as among caller's favorites. (Ollie in Goldsboro, North Carolina)
  • “It seems trite, but Paris continues to amaze many trips later. Always a new neighborhood to explore, a beautiful corner previously undiscovered!  We've recently enjoyed trips closer to the peripherique and Parc Montsouris, visits to the "street of music" Rue du Rome, and more.” (e-mail from Deb in Mt. Laurel, New Jersey)
  • Enjoyed Marseilles, despite the cautions of other Frenchmen. Asks about finding a good value on the local bouillabaisse. Street market resembles North Africa. (Joe in Chicago)
  • Describes participating for a week in an English-immersion program for Spaniards called “VaughnTown” near Madrid, Spain. (Sarah in Fallbrook, California) 

Incidental Music

  • Nigel Kennedy (piano), Albrecht Meyer (oboe), Berlin Philharmonic, “Concerto for Violin and Oboe - Allegro (J. S. Bach),” Kennedy Plays Bach / EMI Classics
  • Steven Lubin, “Piano Concerto No. 1 - III Rondo Allegro (Beethoven),” Editions de L’Oiseau-Lyre: The Original Sound (sampler) / L’Oiseau-Lyre
  • Christopher Parkening, “‘Allegro’ from ‘Prelude, Fugue, and Allegro’ (J. S. Bach),” The Great Recordings / EMI Classics
  • Gisela May, “Zu Potsdam unter den Eichen (Kurt Weill, Bertolt Brecht, et al) (from Weill’s 'Berliner Requiem' - 1927),” Brecht-Weill songs / Capriccio
  • Parasksévas Grekis, “Zorba’s Dance (Horos tou Zorba),” Greece/Grece-Mikis Theodorakis / Mikis Theodorakis (self-released)
  • * Percy Faith and his Orchestra, “Theme from ‘A Summer Place,’” Pop Music: The Golden Era 1951-1976 (collection) / Sony
  • instrumental open to George Dalaras, “Pame Gi Allou,” Athens to Andalucía: A Mediterranean Odyssey (collection) / Putumayo
  • Antonis Remos, “An Ksanarthesis,” 1000% Epitihies (collection) / BMG Greece - Sony Distribution
  • Glykeria, “Pare Me Apopse Pare Me,” Athens to Andalucía: A Mediterranean Odyssey (collection) / Putumayo
  • natural sound of accordion and tamborin ensemble from Madrid’s Plaza Mayor provided by Willie Weir.
  • * Azymuth, “Last Summer in Rio,” Telecommunication / Milestone
  • LAGQ (Los Angeles Guitar Quartet), “Carmen Suite: ‘Aragonaise,’” LAGQ Latin / Telarc
  • Michael Grogan, “The Bank of Ireland,” From Galway to Dublin: Early Recordings of Irish Traditional Music (collection) / Rounder
  • Michel Legrand, “I Love Paris,” Jazz in Paris - Paris Jazz Piano / SSC
  • Chano Dominquez, “Choricli jul,” Duende: The Passion of Flamenco / Ellipsis Arts

Dated References

  • In the billboard, and at 33:30 in segment B, Anastasia makes mention of the Elgin Marbles at the British Museum, and says Greeks prefer to call them “the Parthenon Marbles,” in hopes that the British will return them to be housed at the new Acropolis Museum in Athens.
  • At 15:30, Rick mentions the attractiveness of the “new” cityscape, and the new buildings along the revitalized Spree River shore in Berlin.
  • In his open to segment B, Rick also mentions he was ""just in" Athens, and admired the recently renovated infrastructure of the city. Anastasia then describes how the city has "changed a lot" with renovations and changes to transportation in and around Athens, including a new subway, bypass highway, and a new airport "in the last ten years or so." At 22:16, she explains access to parts of the city, based on license plate numbers.
  • At 23:29, Anastasia says there are 4.5 million people in Athens. She discusses that there is "a lot of illegal immigration to Greece in the last 20 years," starting at 25:28.
  • At 26:05, Rick raises the news “in the last year or so” of the country’s economic crisis as a deterrent to tourism. Anastasia replies with some of the impacts it is having on residents. She adds that anarchists have been getting attention in Greece for the last 40 years.\
  • Caller Carlee at 27:03 brings up the “current political climate” in Greece as a concern.  Anastasia replies that demonstrations are usually confined to the center of Athens at Syntagma Square, including on national holidays in November and early March. At 28:25, Rick adds he was “just there a couple months ago,” and describes the role of anarchists in how the demonstrations are depicted in the media.
  • At 29:48, caller Louanne asks for advice visiting Athens “in late September-early October.”
  • At 30:40, Anastasia says the neighborhood of Exarcheia may pose some issues to a single woman traveler, due to the presence of anarchists, but adds that it is changing for the better as it becomes a renovated part of old Athens.
  • Rick notes that hotel prices for a single room in central Athens are typically around €50 or €60, and adds that taxis can be a good value, too.
  • At 32:16, Rick asks Anastasia about the new Acropolis museum.