Program 320: Jeff Greenwald's Nepal; Visiting St Peter's Basilica

Release Date: 03-30-2013

On Air Description

Travel writer Jeff Greenwald makes a point to return to Nepal every year. He joins us on the next Travel with Rick Steves to describe how long-held customs are challenged by modern pressures and political turmoil in Nepal, and to point out what’s timeless about the Himalayan culture, that draws him back, year after year.  

And we take a close-up look at Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome, to understand what went into making it the most impressive church in the world, with tips for making it a high point of your life's travels. 

Give your spirit a boost, with this week's Travel with Rick Steves. 

Notes to Stations

  • The segment A and B interview is a re-edit of one which first aired on Program #236, Feb. 26, 2011.
  • Remember that if your station will be conducting additional fundraising during Travel with Rick Steves, beyond using the customary fundraising modules we provide, you can contact producer Tim Tattan for suggested cutaway cues during any week's edition of Travel with Rick Steves.  This will give you additional fundraising time, and clean ins and outs, while retaining most of the weekly show. 


  • Travel writer Jeff Greenwald, executive director of Ethical Traveler, and author of Snake Lake (published by Counterpoint)
  • Gene Openshaw, co-author of Rick Steves' art history book "Europe 101"
  • Francesca Caruso, licensed tour guide based in Rome, Italy

Related Links


  • "As a backpacker visiting the Vatican, what can I get away with wearing without being embarrassed or rude? Can I print tickets bought online spur of the moment, to skip lines?"  (Jordan in Tampa, Florida)
  • Describes a 2004 visit to Saint Peter's. "My friend and I ran through the Roman downpour to the Ufficio Scavi. We were late, literally dripping wet and expressed dismay at possibly missing the Vatican Necropolis. A priest walked into the office and said we could still go. Thus began our trip under the Vatican. It was amazing." (Mary Ann in Southgate, Kentucky)

Incidental Music

  • Robert Shaw, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra & Chorus, "'Sanctus' from 'Requiem, Op. 48' (Faure)," The Power and the Majesty / Telarc
  • Choying Drolma and Steve Tibbetts, "Ngami Tröma, pt. 2," Cho / Hannibal
  • Avalon String Quartet, “Namasté: Incarnation of the Divine,” Avalon String Quartet / Albany Records
  • Chitalkar, Chorus, Lata Mangeshkar, Mohd. Rafi, Shamshad Begum, “Namaste Namaste,” Patanga (1949) / Saregama
  • * Imade Saputra, “Kathamandu Trip,” Nepal, le Toit du Monde / Cezame
  • Jaya Satria, “Blue Stone,” Traditions d’Asie - Nepal / Origins Zen Media
  • Unspecified musician, "Lu (nomadic song from Tibet)," Amiata’s Secret World vol. 2 (sampler collection) / Amiata Records (Italy)
  • Chogyai Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche, “The Practice of Chöd,” Amiata’s Secret World vol. 2 (collection) / Amiata Records (Italy)
  • Choying Drolma and Steve Tibbetts, "Kyamdro Semkye," Cho / Hannibal
  • The Band of The Brigade of Gurkhas, "Ashare Mahinama," Namaste: The Music of Nepal / Clovelly Recordings
  • Cat Stevens, “Kathmandu,” Footsteps In The Dark-Greatest Hits vol. 2 / A&M
  • Monks of the Nyingmapa Order, “Turning of the Bhutanese Dramnyen,” Tibetan Buddhist Rites from the Monasteries of Bhutan, vol. 4 / Lyrichord
  • * Isaac Stern, Cho Liang Lin, Jaime Laredo, et al, "String Sextet in B-flat major, Op. 18: III-Scherzo Allegro molto (Brahms)," Sony Almanac 1992 Highlights of the Year (sampler) / Sony Classical
  • Intro to Cantus, "Introit - Benedicta Sit Sancta Trinitas (9th century plainchant)," Cantus / (self-released)
  • Fra Armando Pierucci, organist at the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, “Variations on a Theme of the 4th Mode of ‘Alleluia’,” De Profundis: The Art of Dying: A Cantata by Father Armando Pierucci /  Pilgrims Star
  • Rome Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, "Abbi pietà di mi (Stradella)," Great Jubilee 2000 (performance recording from St. Peter's Basilica AD2000) / Amiata Records
  • Compagnie Chez Bousca, ”Comptines,” Chants de Quete de la periode de Pâques / Ocora-Radio France
  • Leonardo de Amicis and Stefano Mainetti, "Ubi Caritas," Abba Pater / Sony Classical

Dated References

  • In Jeff Greenwald’s interview in segments A and B, and in the opening billboard, there are references to Nepal as a “fledgling democracy,” after a popular revolution in April 1990, a ten year civil war (started in 1995), the massacre of the royal family (June 1, 2001), and its starting to operate as a republic in 2006.
  • In the segment A open at 6:30, Rick refers to the "recent attention" over the papal election in the Vatican (March 2013).
  • At 12:15, Jeff says the republic of Nepal is “broken,” due to the amount of corruption and an inability to govern effectively. He adds that China has built roads through the mountains to Kathmandu, and has since tried to place limitations on the Tibetan community within Nepal.
  • At 13:55, Jeff notes that pensions for Nepali gurkha soldiers who served in Haiti and Britain are the major income source in the country, and that the gurkhas were villified for the cholera epidemic that followed the 2010 earthquate in Haiti.
  • At 15:40, Rick brings up the “living virgin goddess” tradition as an example of medieval aspects that persist in Nepali culture. Jeff explains that it, and animal sacrifices, have become controversial as Nepal goes through a transitional phase of modern attitudes. He adds that the king had been a way to pull together the identities of 100 different ethnic groups in Nepal, and that there is a nostalgia for the monarchy.
  • At 18:05 Jeff confirms that a lot of Nepal's wealth and trade comes from India.
  • In the segment A close at 18:41 Rick says "we celebrate Easter" in just a bit, as a promotion for today's segment C interview.
  • In segment B, starting around 27:10, Jeff notes that tourists to Nepal in recent years are more serious-minded explorers than was typical in the early 1970s, and he gives a couple of examples of Westerners who have started businesses there which help the local people. At 28:46, Jeff says you now have to pay "a pretty hefty price" to enter Bhaktapur.
  • At 29:30, Jeff mentions dry goods are traditionally sold by weight in Bhaktapur and Patan.
  • At 34:48, Jeff notes that hundreds of people fly to Kathmandu each year to attend the Saturday teachings of the Buddhist teacher Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche.
  • At 35:43, Jeff lists some of the complaints and deprivations facing the Nepali people today, but adds that the value of generosity is predominant in their culture.
  • Rick calls the Vatican Museum, at 48:41, one of the greatest in all of Europe.
  • At 51:18, Gene and Francesca remind that advance reservations are required to view the Scavi necropolis underneath Saint Peter's Basilica, which was opened a few decades ago. He adds reservations can still be made by fax, but must be several months in advance of your visit.
  • Rick adds at 53:00 that mass is celebrated daily at 5pm in Saint Peter's.

Program Extras

Program 320 extra - Rick and Gene Openshaw discuss how the artistic beauty of St. Peter’s Basilica reflects the values of the Renaissance in the early 1500s, when many great artists were all working in Rome. They note how you can see this in Rafael's painting, "The School of Athens." (runs 1:13)