Over and Under-Rated Travel Experiences
A friend and I were talking recently about how—in a world overflowing with images and guidebooks—sometimes you can come upon a place when traveling and feel you’ve seen it all before. Sadly, this happened to me in the Louvre in Paris, when I struggled my way in to see the Mona Lisa and found myself in a camera-flashing, elbow-bumping mob of Mona- manic tourists who almost entirely blocked the view of the poor little Lisa who smiled enigmatically nonetheless beneath several inches of plate glass.
Those cities that fall in the overrated category are now the subject of an essay by British stockbroker-turned-traveler Leon Logothetis, who has filmed a TV series called “Amazing Adventures of a Nobody,” which will air later this month on Fox Reality Channel. An article on the San Francisco Chronicle‘s website talks about how Logothetis’s criteria for what makes a city overrated really boils down to the people themselves and the varying degrees to which they are “unfriendly and mean.”
So what cities made his overrated list? Athens (“overstressed” and tourist-“bilking”), for one, followed by Dubai (“a construction site with little culture”), Prague (“overwhelmed by tourism”), Paris (“arrogant” and “aloof”), and Moscow (“among the most expensive cities on earth”).
On the flip side, though, are places where you reach them and they are so much grander, so much more majestic, so much more awe-inspiring than any picture or description of it could ever do it justice. In my personal experience, the Grand Canyon, the city of Venice in Italy, and the site of Machu Picchu in the Peruvian Andes are three such examples. No matter how many pictures you see, you’ll still be unprepared when you arrive by the degree to which you’ve never seen anything like it before.
Where, in your travel experiences, have you gone that you’ve felt was over- or under-rated?
My name: Rachel Berg.
Favorite way to get around: By Venetian gondola during starlit high tide, gliding past decaying and slightly spooky palaces, with perhaps a bottle of prosecco placed between the gondola seat cushions.
View that took my breath away: Unable to sleep in the mystical city of Sfat in Israel, I wandered outdoors predawn and was treated to a purple-on-purple sunrise below the mountaintop that seemed to emerge feet-first through ground-level clouds.
Greatest travel lesson learned: Sunny weather isn't everything. Some of my best travel memories involve go-karting through a deluge turned mud-fest in Mexico, drinking tea in the cold Denali tundra, and watching electric thunderstorms roll through national parks out West.
Most challenging travel moment: Getting leveled by altitude sickness in Cuzco and realizing that my body was forcing me to slow down and rest despite the fact that there was so much to do and see.
Travel ambition: To see the northern lights.