Travellers tales of the places they just didn’t like.
As we all know, not every place in the world is for everyone. Everyone has their own likes and dislikes, and that’s the most beautiful thing about travel—there can be a million people that travel to the same place, yet each will leave with their own perspective and opinion on a place.
Over the last few months, I’ve shared some stories of places that people just didn’t like. It turns out, there were so many people that wanted to share their experiences that maybe they don’t have the opportunity to talk about as much. So back by popular demand here is part three of the places and the stories from travellers who visited a place that they just didn’t like.
Even if Sayulita had a lovely white sand beach and it was the perfect place to learn how to do StandUp Paddleboarding, it happened to be a loud Mexican town. I have to admit, we were there during the high season (and during the Easter Break), which didn’t help either. The beach was crowded, people were leaving their trash everywhere and the water wasn’t that great at the shore. Some days, we were afraid to swim because of the quality of the water. If that even happened, we’d simply jump on our boards, make sure we didn’t fall in the water too soon and paddle until the water became clearer/better looking.
We could maybe have survived our two months in that small Mexican town, if it weren’t from their tendencies to have parties that start after midnight. And by the way, those midnight parties aren’t on Saturday. Sometimes, they’re on random Tuesday nights, when you just want to sleep. On top of that, we happened to live in an apartment complex where the kid living downstairs couldn’t stop crying. We’ve lived around chickens that weren’t as annoying. Sayulita would have been perfect for us, if only we could have taken all the people out and put there somewhere else.
For people staying for only a week, Sayulita will be great! You won’t stay long enough to see its bad sides. If you plan to stay there for longer, then you need to be warned! You might have (had) a great experience there, but it just wasn’t for us, nature and silence lovers.
Virginie Carmichael @ FarmBoy & CityGirl
“Aruba, Jamaica, ooo I wanna take ya…”
This melodic harmony by the Beach Boys envisaged Aruba as an exotic and mysterious faraway island, just waiting to be explored. I had the chance to visit in 2010 with high expectations, but in retrospect Aruba was my least favorite destination. So what was it about this Caribbean jewel that I disliked so much?
Honestly, it wasn’t actually Aruba I disliked. It’s a beautiful island with great weather, what’s not to love? It was how I visited Aruba. I had been invited to spend a few days at a timeshare with a friend, so instead of my usual voracious planning to see and do all a destination has to offer, I left my itinerary to my generous host. Unfortunately our travel styles differed dramatically. I am in the explore-all-day, eat street food, immerse in nature, meet the locals camp, and she is in the read-on-the-beach, eat resort food and drink daiquiris camp. Now, I think there is merit in this type of luxury and relaxation, but my wanderlust just can’t be satiated by spending the entirety of a trip drinking piña coladas on the beach.
I needed to get out of the resort. Luckily the Netherlands were in the World Cup final, and as Dutch nationals the locals were out in full support of the Oranje. I used this as the perfect excuse to tear my friend away from the pool bar. We dressed head-to-toe in orange and visited a bar full of locals to cheer on the Flying Dutchmen. The Netherlands lost, but those few hours spent immersing in an important cultural event are the best memories I have of Aruba.
Though it ranks #1 among the “Places I Just Didn’t Like”, I learned a valuable lesson from Aruba. Since then I have stayed true to my travel personality, taking advantage of every opportunity to really experience the place I’m visiting. Whether that means tasting a weird food, diving into nature, or just getting to know the people, my trips are more memorable when infused with a little local flavor.
Ashley Tippins @ Standby Sojourners
For years, I dreamed of the Mediterranean Sea and the Moroccan dunes. I envisioned myself standing beside a blue sea, as the warm salty air touched my face. Wow, was I wrong. When I arrived in Nador, I was smacked in the face with the smell of human feces and garbage. The Blue sea that I had envisioned, was full of trash. Not limited to dirty diapers, tires, and uses condoms. The beach was equally contaminated, and was heavily guarded by the Moroccan Military and their automatic weapons. ” I guess Swimming is out of the question, I sighed to myself”, “Maybe the locals are friendly”.
Shortly after, I was offered a large amount cash in exchange for sex (with 5 locals). Apparently, my over sized hoodie and cargo pants made me look like a prostitute. When I politely declined, I was spat on, called a whore, and a western dog. “Lovely”. On the bright side, I’m only living in Nador for several months.
My flying contract was schedule to last for several months, therefore I had to adapt. Despite my first impression, and general hate for the city, I embraced it. On my 2nd day, I went shopping for a head wrap and learned how to properly cover my long mane. Walking around with a beautiful head of long red hair, was not helping me fit into the community. Unless, I wanted to make a living off turning tricks vs flying airplanes.
As a western woman, female pilot and solo traveler, I was the farthest thing from a local and I stood out like a glowing star. Nador is off the beaten track, and rarely sees tourists, let alone female pilots. I survived by blending in, and trying to avoid attention. I traveled by day, covered up, and remained under the radar as much as possible. Living off the beaten track in Nador, Morocco was a not an experience I would recommend.
Melissa Visentin @ The Flip Flop Flyer
On a trip to Australia last June, I planned a visit to Melbourne, mainly to visit a friend who lives there. I’d heard so many good things about the bar scene and the coffee shops in the city, and was looking forward to experiencing all that Melbourne had to offer. On arrival at the airport, we were greeted by a large rain storm, so the weather was already working against me.
I visited quite a few bars and casual restaurants during my 4 days in town, and almost all of them clung to the hope that summer was just around the corner and often left their doors wide open to the street, even with the temperature below 8C (47F). It’s not fun sitting in a pub with everyone wearing their coats to keep warm.
One day it was very windy – but at least that day was dry. The pub we stopped in for lunch was open enough to have a significant wind blowing through the main area.
I took the tourist bus – hop on/hop off all day! Initially it took a while to find my closest stop, as their published map had it on the wrong street. The driver indicated that we weren’t the first to complain about this. Due to traffic congestion, the 90 minute tour was running an hour late when I got off at a stop on the tram lines so I could get home.
The big tourist things in Melbourne are wineries and the Great Ocean Road. Both of these are a long drive out of town, and not likely to be fun in the late fall and winter months, so I’d already decided to skip these.
On the good side, in the spring and summer all these outdoor places are probably great! The public transport and coffee shops both lived up to their top billing too. Our hotel room had a great view of St Patrick’s cathedral too.
And after all that, my friend was in London on business that week!
Tom Fakes @ FHRNews
My boyfriend and I planned a month long romantic/adventurous getaway to southern Florida. We started with a wonderful 2 weeks in the Keys before making our way back to the peninsula. Our first spot was great. A bunch of hippies bought 5 acres of land in Little Haiti over 20 years ago and started an organic farm. They had also built a huge treehouse on the property, and we rented out the 3rd level for a couple days. This was the highlight of Miami. Beyond that it was one issue after another.
I have been living in LA for the last 11 years and didn’t think traffic could actually be worse anywhere else, but Miami proved me wrong. Jams I can deal with, but the lack of attention paid on the road I cannot. Everyday we almost got into at least one wreck because the person driving in the lane beside us decided to merge without even the slightest glance to see if anyone was next to them.
We also had the joy of witnessing a dog getting hit and the driver speeding off without hesitation. Fortunately my boyfriend and I along with another family had the decency to pull off and help the injured pooch.
The majority of our stay we rented a studio in North Beach, which I soon learned was a mistake. People were incredibly rude and pretentious. I don’t know how many times I was run off the sidewalk by a herd of women pushing strollers, some of which were transporting dogs. I also thought it was ludicrous to pay an upwards of $20 for a well vodka in the lobby of a hotel. Maybe at a swanky nightclub, but seriously the lobby!
I have heard so many great things about Miami from my friends who lived there, but it’s definitely not the place for me. I look forward to revisiting the Keys and even Fort Lauderdale, but Miami maybe not.
Sadie Redinger @ Eclectic Trekker
Before I had even taken my first trip to Europe in September 2011, I had somewhat recklessly booked a second: who was I to book a second trip? Did I even like Europe? I wondered.
The draw was magnetic; I was a moth to the pillar of light atop the Eiffel Tower. As Audrey Hepburn said: “Paris is always a good idea.” Or so I thought, until I arrived.
I think that the defining characteristics of a destination I don’t enjoy aren’t singular: it’s a series of dominos, lining up and falling out of place to leave the whole picture ruined. So it was with Paris: from the frigid weather to the frigid Parisian hospitality. My friends and I, distinctly demure and attempting to even dress in a French way so as not to draw attention, were turned away from restaurants with open tables, smashed into with grocery bags on the metro, and relied solely on maps instead of soliciting advice when we got lost in the labyrinth of Parisian streets. It was a miserable experience, whereby we ended up spending two of our seven days holed up in our hotel rather than put on the faces that said we weren’t heart-broken by Paris, rather than in love with it.
It wasn’t until my second trip that I realized these signs of un-welcoming are parts of the way Parisians interact; the lack of hospitality wasn’t aimed at us despite the fact that it felt as though we were walking around with star-spangled targets on our backs. I came home saying that Paris was most definitely beautiful, and certainly worth visiting, but that I would probably not go back.
My second trip less than two years later more than made up for the first, but that’s a story for another time.
Valerie @ Valerie & Valise
Prague, Czech Republic
You know how sometimes you read so many good things about a place and start having extremely high expectations? Well, that was the case with Prague for me. I had been wanting to visit Czech Republic for long, and had come across just so many posts on forums saying that people love to buy retirement homes there, it is beautiful beyond imagination, etc . As a result, I had built up this image of a perfectly pretty and clean place in my mind. And boy was I disappointed! It is an interesting city for sure, but just not what I imagined it to be. It was raining a lot that week, there was dog poop on the streets, and I was also unsuccessful in finding my way at times due to the language barrier. At that point, perhaps just a month ago, I had moved to Heidelberg, Germany, and was greatly enamored by the natural beauty and the city in general. So, maybe even because of that, I was expecting too much out of Prague. Nevertheless, I tried out Couchsurfing for the first time there, and got a great host! I had a fabulous time meeting new people and getting an insight into their world. My host also took my friends and me to quite a few places that we would have never been able to discover ourselves. Oh, and I’m pretty sure I had the best carrot cake ever in a restaurant!
To anyone visiting Prague for the first time, perhaps I’d suggest just not to over expect and simply enjoy the food and drinks, sights as well as meeting people!
Menorca @ Europe Diaries
Vang Vieng, Laos
Let me start by saying how much I loved Laos and how highly I recommend it. Let me then continue by expressing how much I despised ‘tubing capital’ Vang Vieng, where, although technically illegal now, visitors can float down the river on rubber tubes stopping at various bars along the river and get totally slaughtered on cheap rum cocktails, receiving friendship bracelets as a medal of honour in exchange for each drink consumed.
Sounds fun, right? Don’t get me wrong, it is, but it’s also where manners and respect go to die. Half-naked, drugged-up tourists grind against each other with laughing gas in one hand and a beer in the other, spending a local’s monthly wage on one night out. The town is filled with restaurants serving shroom pizza and playing Friends and Family Guy on repeat. It breaks my heart when I think about what the locals must think of us and our total disregard for them and their culture. The only positive I can find is that it made me hit the reset button on how I travel and the respect I show locals. If you want to see Laos for the beautiful country it is, I’d suggest going somewhere other than Vang Vieng.
Lucy Hemmings @ LUCY’Ssmilesaway