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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?

rachel_berg

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.

Comments

Elizabeth Harper
Reply

Last September I completed a 105 mile “walk” that is referred to as Tour du Mont Blanc. It was a journey unlike any I’d experienced before and I’ve been many places including climbing Wyna Picchu the tall mountain that hovers over and guards the Machu Picchu site.

The TMB as it’s commonly referred to is series of up and down climbs each day that take you through the French, Swiss, and Italian Alps. You take only what you can carry on your back and the accommodations available along the way can be a bit challenging.

Challenging because many have only dormitory style sleeping arrangements and getting a shower at the end of a long hot day of walking can be a bit like the running of the bulls.

I grumbled to myself the first three days despite the amazing views, but by the time it was over on day ten, I was already planning my return to Mont Blanc.

Jennifer Hazelett
Reply

The national parks in Utah–Bryce, Zion, Arches–fit the description of underrated. You can’t really experience them through pictures.

Anne and May
Reply

The knave! How dare he besmirch the good name of my beloved Paris!

But I did have this feeling in Montreal. I just…I didn’t see what the fuss was about it. Sorry, Canada!

My vote for underrated is Hong Kong. I know it’s very famous, obviously, but you don’t find many Americans saying, I’m dreaming of seeing Hong Kong. And yet, it blew my mind when I went there. So pretty! So unique! So much culture!

Amie Ashcraft
Reply

I agree that Athens was highly overrated (at least at the time I was there in 1997, I felt that way). But I was unprepared for the loveliness that was Delphi. A small town on a mountain overlooking olive groves…the splendid and peaceful site of The Oracle…I loved it.

Michelle
Reply

I agree about Montreal being overrated (and I’m sorry, too). I disagree with Logothetis’ pick of Athens, though; because of write-ups like his, I expected to be underwhelmed, but I LOVED the city.

I think the Las Vegas Strip is overrated, and I also didn’t fall in love with Amsterdam like I’d been assured I would.

As far as underrated, I’d say Washington, D.C. (I’m impressed every time) and Los Angeles. The latter sometimes gets a bad rap, but it IS really pretty. Oh, and all of Germany–what a great trip!

Salim Arkadan
Reply

Marrakech is definately an under rated experience. You need to stay with a Moroccan family to really appreciate the culture.

Why not stay in an apartment and save on hotel costs?

Tours of Grand Canyon
Reply

I agree with you Rachel. I’ve been to some places in different countries and seen wonderful things too, but there is nothing compared to the majestic beauty of the Grand Canyon. For me, it is still the undefeated best view in the world.

Tavla
Reply

Americans saying, I’m dreaming of seeing Hong Kong. Tavla On the flip side, though, are places where you reach them and they are so much grander great post thank you admin.

jimmy
Reply

Athens is overrated but I heard good things about japan. 800 vanity numbers | Office Phone System | virtual pbx

Ange
Reply

The TMB as it’s commonly referred to is series of up and down climbs each day that take you through the French, Swis.cheap eyeglasses|a href=”http://www.firmoo.com/8-10.html”>$8 eyeglasses

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