A disclaimer, before we get started… I visited some of these places a long time ago, the 1970s in some cases, and they may have improved by now. Or, it’s possible I was just young and dumb, and my perception was defective. I certainly wouldn’t base any vacation plans on what I’m about to write. I’m far from an authority.
No, I’m simply going to list the places I’ve visited that disappointed me. And, at the end, I’ll tell you about a couple of destinations that were surprisingly great. And then I’ll hand it over to you guys to do the same.
We’re talking about personal experiences here, not blanket dismissals. At least I am. You folks can do whatever you want. Let’s get started, shall we?
The falls themselves are amazing, of course. And we donned smelly communal raincoats, and took a boat tour that got us very near the roaring water. Even behind it, I think.
So, all that was fun. But… the area surrounding the falls is a real downer. The U.S. side is a shithole. It feels like a town that was once quaint and prosperous, and is now sinking fast. Depressing. And the Canadian side is a tacky-ass tourist trap. Sometimes tourist traps are fun, like Myrtle Beach, but Niagara Falls fits into an entirely different category.
This one tops the list. We all thought it was going to be a mind-blowing experience, and left feeling like a dark shadow had passed over our souls.
When I was a kid we visited an amusement park called King’s Island once or twice every summer. It was almost impossibly fun. I don’t know how they pulled it off, but it was the absolute pinnacle of amusement park greatness.
Then my parents suggested we visit Disney World in Florida, and I was psyched. This was going to be EVEN BETTER!
Yeah, not even close. The rides and attractions were more elaborate, that’s true. But it wasn’t nearly as much fun. It was crowded and hot, and almost everything felt like it was hitting at about 75% on the enjoyment meter. It wasn’t a complete disaster, like Niagara, but certainly disappointing.
After that, we just went back to King’s Island, and vowed to never forsake our old friend again.
All my life I’d heard about the charms of Savannah. It’s like a trip back in time, they said, to the Old South. I’d been to Charleston, South Carolina many times, which mines the same vein. And Charleston is pretty kick-ass.
But Savannah? No. The historic district is tiny, and it’s surrounded by crushing poverty and sadness. If you stay within the few blocks set aside for tourists, it’s OK; there are great bars and restaurants, and it is indeed charming. But there’s not enough of it. And there are crack deals going on, right over there.
Is that unfair? It’s how I remember it.
The glitz! The glamour! The movie stars! The palm trees! That’s the image, right? In reality, it’s more like drug addicts passed out and shitting themselves in doorways, and pansexual whores asking if you’re lonely. If your idea of glamour is staring at a used condom on the Phil Silvers Walk of Fame star, then Hollywood is for you!
On a more positive note… Many years ago, before we were married, Toney and I went to visit her sister in Oregon. It’s one of those states that doesn’t really trigger a lot of expectations. Ya know? Sorta like Arkansas. I would have no idea what to expect before visiting Arkansas.
But it turned out to be one of the best trips ever. Portland was a lot of fun, and really pretty. We spent an afternoon at Powell’s bookstore, which was crazy in the best sense of the word. And there were amazing brewpubs and walking trails everywhere.
Eugene was full of hippies, but also offered many a brewpub, as well as great coffee shops and the like.
And the Oregon coast blew my freaking mind. I’d never seen anything like it. There are giant rocks on the beach, and the weather was like fall in the summer. It was so pretty and unusual, my brain had trouble processing it. I’d just stand there and marvel at what was before me. I loved every minute of it.
I highly recommend Oregon. We need to get back there, ASAP.
During the run-up to our London trip, I kept telling Toney we were setting ourselves up for disappointment. There was no way it could possibly be as great as we were imagining it in our romantic visions.
But it was even better. It was a perfect vacation. Perfect! Everything we did went off without a hitch, and every single day was amazing. Good god, it’s another place we need to revisit, before our organs start cutting in and out. Maybe in 2015? Yeah, let’s make that an official goal.
Now it’s your turn. In the comments, please tell us about the disappointing vacation spots you’ve visited, and the ones that were shockingly good.
And I’ll see you guys again next time.
Have yourselves a great day!
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