Traveling, as we all know, is one of the great educational and pleasurable experiences of life. Going to new places, seeing beautiful sites, enjoying different cultures -- there is no better way to learn about the world, and about oneself. Let’s be real, though: not every famous travel experience lives up to the hype. Maybe it's the fact that some destinations become too touristy or that the legend/history outweighs the in-person feel of it--whatever the reason, some "must do" entries on travel itineraries just aren't. Who would we be if we didn’t try to save you from some of them? Here are some of the most egregious offenders:
The Mona Lisa
The problem with Leonardo Da Vinci’s masterpiece isn’t that it’s not a beautiful work of art. Rather, the issue is that the hype surrounding it far outstrips its ability to impress. It’s located in the Louvre, which houses one of the largest and most impressive art collections in the world, and is constantly surrounded by crowds that block and jostle you. Meanwhile, not a single person is looking at the other art around it. Is it really worth that kind of effort to see a picture of a woman with a strangely-shaped smile.
The City of Prague
Far be it from us to condemn as a whole the jewel that was the capital of the Kingdom of Bohemia, the site of the Defenestration of Prague, and the current seat of Czech government. Still, every time we talk about Eastern Europe, someone likes to bring up how beautiful Prague is and how Czech girls are the most beautiful in the world. The reality, though, is that everything that’s worth seeing is located within a fifteen-minute walking radius, most of the city is a Communist-era wasteland, and the food is largely subpar. The Castle is worth seeing, but for the most part, Prague is a severely overrated tourist destination.
There are some places in the world that are well-known for having marvelous cuisine; Germany is not one of those places. So, when people start telling you about how currywurst is one of the can’t miss-delicacies of Berlin, your initial reaction is going to be a skeptically raised eyebrow. The difficulty is keeping that eyebrow raised while people continue to gush and gush about how you just have to try currywurst. Well, let us spoil it for you: it’s chopped-up sausage with ketchup and curry powder on top. And, yes, it tastes exactly the way you would expect that to taste.
The natural world has produced many great spectacles and sights of beauty. Old Faithful is neither of those things. It is, rather, a feature of tectonic activity that causes water to spurt into the sky at unusually regular intervals (just about every 41 minutes, according to Wikipedia). There’s no doubt that this is a remarkable geographic tidbit. Still, there’s a major divide between contemplating how strange it is and the experience of standing in front of it -- which is, essentially, standing for a few minutes on a rock in a national park until some water flies up into the air. We’ll pass on that one to scale El Capitan any day.