Program 321a: Ask Rick; A Heart for Street Art; Urban Explorers

Release Date: 02-22-2014

On Air Description

On the next Travel with Rick Steves, we'll meet an urban explorer who tells us why his favorite part of Paris is underground, and how he gets to enjoy a view of the Manhattan skyline from the top of the Brooklyn Bridge. 

We'll also hear how a street artist brings color and panache to people around the world, where she proves that making art together is a great way to foster pride in your community, and yourself. 

And soon-to-be travelers ask Rick for advice on upcoming trips to Europe.

Energize your world with this week's Travel with Rick Steves.


  • Nicolina Johnson, aka "Nicolina," artist and founder of The Free Art Society and proprietor of "Paint the Town" in New York City
  • Moses Gates, NYC tour guide and author of "Hidden Cities:  A Memoir of Urban Exploration"  (Tarcher-Penguin)

Related Links

  • Nicolina's website includes photos from her Flutuarte project painting fishing boats in Rio de Janiero, and from her Hearts of the World and Free Art Society projects.
  • Nicolina often uses the Couchsurfing website to find welcoming and free out-of-town accommodations.
  • Moses Gates' New York City touring and city exploration website includes blog articles with photos from Moses' bridge climbs.
  • Tarcher Books' website for Moses Gates' book "Hidden Cities" includes a video preview of some of the adventures in his book, and a link to his frequent Twitter postings in the Press & Events section of the site. 
  • The development company that purchased the abandoned "palace" that Moses Gates mentions at 5 Beekman Street in New York City's Financial District plans to renovate the building and turn it into a luxury hotel.  It had a Facebook page when enthusiasts were able to access the building for "unofficial" events. 
  • Wikipedia includes an entry for "cataphiles" about the unofficial parts of the catacombs of Paris, which includes several links for further information in French.


  • Caller wants help on where to go on her next European trip.  (Kristen in Dublin, Ohio)
  • Planning a two-week trip from Cornwall to Scotland.  Gets advice from Rick on using a Brit Rail Pass and making plans to work within her time frame. (Kathy in Oxford, Ohio)
  • Senior travel friends need advice on using the Oyster Card discount pass for the London Tube. (e-mail from Mollie on Camano Island, Washington)
  • Caller seeks itinerary advice for a two-month European excursion before she and her husband move to London. (Shauna in Boca Raton, Florida)

Incidental Music

  • A New Funky Generation, "Labumba '98," Café del Mar, vol. 5 (collection) / MCA
  • Donald F. Lindsay (on parlor pipes), "The Seagull Jig," The Emerald Isles (collection) / Telarc
  • Roberto DeBrasov, "Eté Indien," Les musiques du Sud (collection) / Al Sur (France)
  • * Azymuth, “Estreito de Taruma,” Telecommunication / Milestone
  • Soul ‘n’ Soda, “Mokkascience,” Nikki Beach vol. 1 (collection) / Loungism Recordings
  • Agepe, "Ela Nao Gosta de Mim,"  A Luaka Bop:  Roots, Rock and Rhythm (collection) / Luaka Bop
  • Trio Nordestino, "Rejeição," A Luaka Bop:  Roots, Rock and Rhythm (collection) / Luaka Bop
  • Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66, "Pretty World," Greatest Hits / A&M
  • * St. Germain, "Latin Note," Tourist / Blue Note
  • Warner Williams, "Step It Up and Go," Blues Routes (collection) / Smithsonian Folkways
  • St. Germain, "Rose Rouge," Tourist / Blue Note
  • Ian Pooley, "Sundowner," Berlin Lounge-Berlin by Night (collection) / Wagram  (France)
  • Tony Bennett and Count Basie, "Are You Havin' Any Fun?," Cocktail Mix Vol. 3:  Swingin' Singles (collection) / Rhino

Dated References

  • Caller Kristen tells Rick she's thinking of going to Europe "next summer" at 7:40, and adds at 8:06 that she'd prefer to go to Russia in July, or to Italy in May or September-October.  Rick notes at 8:33 that a visit to St. Petersburg requires a $200 visa to enter Russia.  At 9:41, Rick adds that he likes a one-week getaway to Paris in the winter.
  • Rick reads an e-mail from Molly, starting at 13:40, which discusses how "the new oyster card" pass for London's subway system can be confusing to tourists.    Rick says it costs £3.
  • Caller Shauna asks, starting at 14:57, for transportation help for a six week European trip prior to moving to London.  Rick describes cold weather realities of the northern cities on her list and, at 16:47, Rick notes you can fly "for about US$100 or less" from point to point in Europe on one of its discount airlines.  He tells Shauna that Sicily will be less crowded in winter. 
  • Nicolina says, at 21:25, that most of Rio de Janiero's "favela" neighborhoods are safer than their reputation. 
  • At 24:50, Nicolina says the "Valentine's heart" seems to have lost its meaning, in explaining why she uses "anatomical" heart designs in her Hearts of the World painting project.
  • Nicolina tells Rick she is 30 years old at 26:16. 
  • At 33:24 Rick notes that the World Cup will be held in Rio de Janiero "in 2014" (June 12-July 13), and the city hosts the Olympic Games in 2016. 
  • Moses refers to 5 Beekman Street, at 46:17, as an abandoned facility that gets used for "underground" events in New York City.

Program Extras

More with Moses Gates - Moses Gates tells Rick why he thinks New York City should explore officially-sanctioned bridge climbs, like they do in Sydney, and how his intentions to do less "urban exploring" as he gets older don't seem to be panning out. (runs 3:05)