To guide Rick Steves is the ultimate test of one’s guiding skills, and I was lucky enough to have that privilege thanks to Ciprian Slemco. I will never forget that October evening when Ciprian called me saying there is somebody who would like to talk to me. Then he passed me Cameron Hewitt, Rick’s co-writer, who was coming to Bucharest in a day or two days and he wanted to meet with me. Cameron had a tight schedule, but he was convinced by Ciprian’s high praises about my tours to fit me in as well.
Cameron and I met quite late in the evening, he was travelling all the way from Bucovina to Bucharest, and the next day had a full schedule. I took him on a short walking tour of Bucharest’s downtown area, and then spent another hour or so discussing things over dinner. Before saying goodbye, Cameron asked me if I was interested in being part of Rick Steves’ team of tour guides next May, when they were supposed to film for his new TV season about travelling in Europe. I was overwhelmed by his words but I said yes instantly, and we agreed to keep in touch for the final details.
We exchanged several emails, and I was shocked to learn that Cameron already had picked all tour guides for Rick’s trip in Romania when we met, however he decided to go with one more in Bucharest. And that was me, a tour guide that just celebrated one year of activity in this field. You can imagine what a storm of feelings and emotions was brewing in my heart, not mention the huge pressure of rising to Ciprian and Cameron’s high expectations. My colleague and friend Ciprian put his reputation on the line for me, a guide he never actually met in person, needless to say seen in action. Cameron did the same by convincing Rick that he needs a second tour guide in Bucharest, after he already had choosen somebody else for Romania’s capital city. No pressure at all, for anyone! :))
Finally, the Z-Day arrived and met with Rick, Cameron and their filming team, Karel and Simon, at their hotel in downtown Bucharest, close to the beautiful Cismigiu Park. There was also Dan, the guide who was booked in the first place for this job. The six of us had an orientation session in the lobby, and Rick assigned us the tasks for the afternoon. He went on a scouting trip with Dan to identify where he should stop and have the on-camera shootage, while me, Cameron, Karel and Simon went separately to film the exteriors needed to present Bucharest during the TV episode about Romania.
We got back together later, for the special dinner set up for him by the National Tourism Board; by the way, that was a disaster I am not ready yet to detail further. Next morning we met at the hotel and headed to the Palace of Parliament for the interior shooting, as Rick had a high interest in having this massive building include in his show about Romania. That was a second moment of erratic behaviour I am not ready to write of yet, but Cameron described it quite accurate in his ‘Behind the Scenes’ post. In the end, Rick got his images and, later that afternoon, we had the on camera shooting in different locations downtown Bucharest.
My job with Rick and his team was done, and the next morning they set off for Transylvania and Maramures. Couple of days later, the first articles were published on the website, and my heart jumped for joy seeing my name mentioned under the title ‘My Favorite Guides in Bulgaria and Romania‘.
If you want to read the articles published by Rick and Cameron, you can follow the links below:
- Bucharest: Romania’s ‘Little Paris of the East’
- Romania’s Countryside: A Land that Time Forgot
- Rick Steves’ Europe Behind the Scenes: Rugged, Rewarding Romania
Related articles on my website: