The Monday Rant: Overrated? Really?
Everyone knows that there are a thousand places everyone must see before they die (uh-huh), but isn't there an equal number of places that you must avoid before you die? In other words, what are the world's most overrated travel destinations?
That's the question we put to readers of our weekly online chat recently, and suffice it to say that places like Disney's Epcot came in for their share of abuse ("It was like visiting the Smithsonian while riding bumper cars"), as did Key West ("The restaurants are 'meh' and really, I can make margaritas at home that are just as good"). But no place was safe, not even such venerable landmarks as Stonehenge ("At the end of the day ... it's a bunch of rocks - behind a fence!) and the Taj Mahal ("Look at a photo. You're getting just as much out of it as anyone who's ever visited the site itself"). Italy was particularly hard hit:
On Venice: "The tiny cups of cappuccino the cafes sell for $8 make Starbucks seem like a bargain."
On Pisa: "Even Rick Steves couldn't find much nice to say about [it] in his book and he seems like a pretty nice man."
On Rome: "There's nothing like a grabby Italian man on a packed subway car during a Rome transit strike."
And then there was this assessment of the baths of Budapest:
Every guidebook you read, every person you meet, tourist and local alike, raves about the baths as the not-to-be-missed attraction. ... I went to one that is considered to be one of the best. Helga's customer service approach was what could only be described as Soviet-esque. Eastern Europeans are generally quite thin -- except at the baths. Which is fine, but when combined with paper-thin swimsuits with not a shred of elastic remaining...well, it's a bad combination. I won't even go into the Speedo situation. I will admit that the outdoor baths are truly fabulous, especially in January. But the water in the indoor baths [is] such a disturbing shade of green I thought it was fallout from Chernobyl. And the water had bits of...something floating in it. And then there was the Borat look-alike giving me the Hungarian equivalent of "how YOU doin'?" I took a very long shower later that afternoon.
Okay, gang: What tops your short list of overrated places?
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