There is No Such Thing as “Must See”

By Nomadic Matt | Published November 2nd, 2009

The Eiffel Tower in Paris FranceI have a slight confession to make. I don’t like Berlin. Everyone raves about how great it is, so going in I had high expectations. It was a “must see” people said. But I don’t know if it was the weather, the architecture, or the people but I didn’t see what all the fuss was about. While I had fun with people from the hostel, overall, I could do without Berlin.

When most people find out about this, they are shocked. “How could you not like Berlin? It was so great.” they said. But not everyone is going to like the same place. There are many cities I don’t like. And, as anyone who has read my about me page knows, I despise Vietnam.

All this made me think about a larger point about traveling. We always hear about the “must see” destinations in the world – places no sane person can miss. Who would want to skip Angkor Wat, Paris, the Great Barrier Reef, the Killing Fields, or Auschwitz?

I skipped the Killing Fields and every concentration camp in Europe. I’m just not interested. Why see a bunch of old buildings and fields where lots of people were murdered? For me, I’d rather go into a museum and read the story because that is what is really interesting to me. Yes, these places have pictures and signs but to me, it’s not something I’m interested in.

Years ago when I first started traveling, I chastised a guy in Cambodia for skipping Angkor Wat. “How could you miss it? You need to at least see it even if only for a day.” I said. But, looking back, I see that he didn’t need to go. Travel isn’t about checking off some list of world sites- it is about exploring the world, learning about yourself and other cultures, and seeing what interests you. Yes, we should all move out of our comfort zone, push ourselves, and try new things. I have tried sea snails in France (they are really good – taste like fried clams) and tried to (slightly) get over my fear of heights.

But take me to a concentration camp and I’m just going to be bored.

Take me to a Holocaust museum and I’ll be there for hours.

Pushing yourself to do new things is one thing, seeing things because someone told you it is a “must see” is another. There are no must see destinations in the world, only things everyone thinks are must see. I’m still guilty of telling people to “see this or that”. I love Paris and am shocked when people don’t. “You have to give Paris a chance,” I say. But, when I take a moment to think, I see that I’m just forcing my opinions on them like people who tell me I need to see the Killing Fields do to me.

And what is “must see” anyways? A place so amazing that everyone should go to, right? But we all know no two people see the same thing the same way and travel destinations don’t escape this rule of life. When I saw Stonehenge, I was disappointed. It was just a bunch of stones to me. The nearby town of Salisbury impressed me more. But Stonehenge is a must see so everyone must like it, right? It was interesting to see but I felt no connection. Moreover, the Louvre was also disappointing. I like impressionism art – the Louvre is mostly ancient sculptures and Renaissance paintings. I can only see so many paintings of Jesus and Mary before I get bored. I probably won’t ever go back to the Louvre but I’ll visit the impressionist Musee D’Orsay over, and over, and over again. (I’ve been to the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam four times.)

Must see is only what we think it to be. People all over the world are always guilty of telling people what is a must see. We can’t expect everyone to like what we like. Sure, there are great places to see in the world but I don’t believe there is anything that is a must see. I make lots of recommendations but those are just my opinions. Doesn’t mean it is right- it is just right for me. Will someone else enjoy Berlin or Vietnam? Of course but I can just talk about my experience.

But the next time anyone tells you that you are crazy for missing some “must see” destination or attraction, ask them if they would go to something they didn’t like. Chances are they will say no. Then you can just tell them:

“Exactly! That’s the same reason why I’m not going to place X.”

comments 53 Comments

Oh I so agree. I wrote an article similar to this recently about why I’ve never been to Paris. There are no universal “must-sees” only personal must-sees. I’m a big pre-trip researcher so I often have a good idea ahead of time of what I will and won’t want to do. For me that means I’m more attracted to ruins, battlefields and historical sites than museums. But others may feel differently.

That being said, I try to be open to unexpected opportunities and experiences. Sometimes I surprise myself with what i end up liking.

@AlexGorbokon

I agree with you in some ways, but one reality you forgot to mention is that some people aren’t as well traveled as you. “Must see” destinations serve as a guide to those less-traveled.

You know what you want because you’ve experienced so much.

-Alex

NomadicMatt

I disagree. Must see destinations aren’t guides. I’m not mix popular with must see. People say the blue hole is a must see destination but I don’t dive. If someone told you had to go to angkor way, would you if you don’t like temples?

Popular places are good guides but my argument is that there is no place you have to go see just because other people go see it.

While I actually do really love Berlin, I totally agree with you on the cities you don’t love that other people rave about. London, for example, is one place I despise. And I’ve been there 20 times or so–I used to have to stop over there when I lived in Arhus and would fly anywhere else on the continent–so I think I have ample room to judge. But for some reason it’s ALWAYS the city Americans want to move to (I’m guessing due to the language factor, but I want to be all, dudes! go to Edinburgh instead then!).

Of your other cities you don’t like, I pretty much agree with all of them (haven’t been to Pattaya or B’ham, so can’t judge there): Atlanta is only worth a trip for the shopping, aquarium and Coke factory; Brisbane is just overall boring; and Milan is a pickpocket incident waiting to happen. So yeah.

I definitely know what you mean on this one. I tend to go down the “must-see” list when I go to a new place because I want to understand what all the fuss is about. Sometimes I’m very disappointed and other times thrilled. In Rome, for example — I really didn’t like the city all that much. It felt dirty and too busy, and people weren’t very friendly. I had romanticized the Spanish Steps in my mind, so they were nothing like I thought they would be. Many of the statues and piazzas were smaller and less interesting than I expected. The ruins all blurred together after a while. One of the only things there that I felt were really all it was cracked up to be was the Colisseum. It is something I have wanted to see my whole life, and even more so after Gladiator became one of my favorite movies. It truly astounded me and I’m so glad I made the time to go see it. But Rome overall disappointed me. A tiny Italian town called Perugia was our next stop; I went there expecting to be bored, but I ended up loving it far more than Rome. So I think some of the “must-see” things really are worth seeing, either due to historical significance or just because they are so astounding, but others are hyped up or are too subjective. Like the Mona Lisa in the Louvre — glad I saw it, but was very disappointed when I saw how small it was (didn’t help that it was covered in thick glass and crowded by tourists).

NomadicMatt

Rome is a good place to see if you get a chance but only you can decide what is a must see. I agree with your impressions of Rome…it wasn’t until I ended up in the Trastevere area that I feel in love with it!

Well said! Like your said traveling is personal experience. So it’s us who will make our trip fun and we have to pick places that interest us. The world is just so big to limit ourselves to others’ Must-See list.

LOL! Ian and I completely agree with you on Renaissance paintings! We had a LOT of people frowning at us when we visited the Uffizi in Florence (a city which completely underwhelmed us, btw – try telling THAT to people!). We must’ve spent longer in line than we did inside. We basically walked through at normal strolling speed. On the other hand, there were some very famous paintings that we’ve always seen so it was neat to see them – albeit briefly!

We also stayed away from the Killing Fields and have no desire to see the concentration camps. We travel to enjoy ourselves have don’t want to spend our time horribly depressed. Of course, having said that, we did spend one November 11th visiting the D-Day beaches. It was very overwhelming and emotional. But I could understand someone else wanting to skip it! Not the most fun weekend!

I so agree with you..when I planned my first trip to germany, I decided that I will not go to Berlin and the other must see cities..its not that I dont like history, but i chose to see places which are not in the tourist map

NomadicMatt

Tourist centers are popular for a reason. There are many great places. Berlin might have something to offer you. I don’t not go to a place b/c it’s popular. I like making my own decision but in my mind, there is no place you HAVE to go to if you don’t want.

kbok

hi matt.. i just subscribed to your blog recently b/c i like reading about your travels and travel tips.

“take me to a concentration camp and i’m just going to be bored.”

i was saddened by this comment. for others, a concentration camp gives them an eye witness account of the evil atrocities that occurred in the past, and how it affected many innocent lives. it also helps survivors and survivor’s families feel that their history is acknowledged (that it is truth and not fiction), that others are educated and aware of their history (because during the time that it occurred they felt helpless and no one came to their rescue), and it allows them to see that foreigners/travelers can still feel empathy even though they did not experience such horror themselves.

i went to the killing fields with my dad, who is a cambodian genocide survivor. even though it was a very difficult time for him, to visit the graves and relive flashbacks of trauma and torture, it was important to him to see that i have a genuine interest in seeing the truth that happened (rather than only hearing about his accounts through storytelling).

he was also very encouraged to see foreigners who were interested as well. he said, “wow.. they care about our history too.” (because back then nobody cared).

i understand that everyone has things they are interested in, and its ok if you didn’t go to the killing fields. i just wanted to comment so that other readers can read on your post as to why some pp DO visit concentration camps.

NomadicMatt

I’ve read a lot about both the holocaust and the killings fields. I’m just not interested in the places though others may be and I can respect that.

thanks for subscribing!

Agree, it’s a personal thing. The London Eye repulses me (well, I do live in London, so get to be snobbish about that one) and I can’t for the life of me figure out why I’d want to be in a Wax Museum.

But also, I don’t really like parades or festivals, too many people, too loud, too… much.

As a contrast, I found Berlin… deserted. There just aren’t enough people in the city to make it feel alive.

I adore Paris, even though the reality is it’s just another big city with much prettier buildings.

However, every experience, whether over- or underwhelming has, at least afterwards, been highly rewarding and I wouldn’t undo any of the places I’ve visited.

I agree on many levels about travel being highly personal – and this is so true with cities and top-tourist sites like the Eiffel Tower and the such.

But on the other hand – you say that you’d rather visit a museum and read about the story of the concentration camps and the Killing Fields – and that’s really what you actually get when you visit them – a chance to wander around, read the information plaques and signs and bear witness to the atrocities at the on-site museums.

I think that to say you avoid concentration camps and genocide locations is a pretty bold statement (and it’s your blog, so cheers to your right to say what you want) but I think there is value in everyone visiting these locations, learning more, and providing a witness to what happened – without this, without seeking out the knowledge and letting it impact you it’s a risk that events like this could happen again.

But, again, there are cities that I hated and the Killing Fields made me uncomfortable while I was there and sad for days later…but as my personal experience, for me, though I don’t love them, I’m glad I went :-)

NomadicMatt

I think people should learn about both horrors and I’m not opposed to taking students there or what have you, just as a personal travel thing- it’s not something I want to go too.

Hi Matt! Always stimulating to read your posts; it’s lovely to disagree… ;))
But this time I’m not in total disagreement… ;)) Anyhow: Sprechen Sie Deutsch?

Meanwhile Blogtrotter is showing you an old castle village in Lycia. Enjoy (or not) and have a great week!

I love these posts analysing travel attitudes :D By far the most worthy of RTs and stumbles! This is the kind of stuff I come to this blog for – keep it up Matt!
As with the other ones, I totally agree with you – I skip lots of “must sees” because I have other priorities in my travels, and actually am quite pleased with myself that I don’t go see something that everyone “has” to see sometimes :P I can, and have, lived in a place for years without seeing the must-sees, but get something else important to me out of it. That’s all that matters in the end!
I agree with the concept of the article, but we definitely have different travel tastes! I absolutely DETEST Paris (lived in that horrible place for the worst 9 months of my life: pretty city indeed, and I always recommend it for a visit, but frankly, unless you are a pretty girl or you simply avoid Parisians and go out with other foreigners, living there is hell), and I find museums dreadfully boring. On the other hand, stuff like Stone Henge is definitely my thing. I find it funny how I can completely disagree with your tastes but completely agree with your logic – you like them and I don’t or vice versa. It’s not going to help either of us if we were forced to go to these things we find boring just to say we were there. Berlin actually sounds like just the city for me :P lol
BTW I love your frank statement of disliking these places, that has clearly ruffled a few feathers. No point in going there just to please others, you may as well be open about it!
Great stuff Matt! Keep ‘em comin ;)

NomadicMatt

i love stumbles and RTs but what my stories of my adventures aren’t worth a visit? lol j/k.

I love paris and hope to move there when I am done being nomadic. I have a ton of Parisian friends and love them all. Je T’aime Paris

How is it that your site encourages us to get a gravatar, but you don’t have one yourself?? :P
Parisians are nice… when they are happy to show off their English to you. If you plan on retiring there, I’d suggest you move anywhere else first (rest of France, Quebec, countries in Africa, Belgium, Switzerland etc.) to learn and perfect your French.
Unless you speak French perfectly Parisians are the least helpful people on the planet if you speak non-perfect French with them. Any hint of an accent and a few mistakes and they will treat you like a dog. They are almost insulted that you are bold enough to try.
If you only plan on socialising in English in Paris, then this is a non-issue, but I personally find that silly for anyone planning on seriously living in a country for the long-term.
On recent visits to Paris, now that my French is very good, everyone is much nicer to me. But I’ll never forget the hundreds of disgusted grimaces they gave me as I was trying my best to communicate the first time. It’s the last place you should go to to seriously learn French. Probably a nice city to live in if you already speak it, but I’m afraid those 9 months have likely jaded me for life.

Well, as usual, you have said what you think without mincing words! I always smile and feel somehow mentally refreshed when I read your posts.

I know that you’re not crazy about kids, but I think you make a particularly excellent point for people traveling with children. When you go to a destination with kids they are not necessarily going to want to see something just because everyone else calls it a “must see.” Or it may not work in your schedule because they are tired or crabby or hungry or (God forbid) poopy….

I think the point here is more about doing away with preconceived notions of what a journey or trip will be and experiencing it in the moment, as you go along. For all you know, you may end up returning to Berlin and loving it at some later point in life. But right now, it didn’t pop your cork, and that’s OK.

NomadicMatt

I pride myself on being honest in my posts. Thank you :)

jforestphotos

Hey Matt!

I definitely agree with you on this! I have not traveled nearly as much as you, but I have been to a few places where i was just.. not excited about it. For me, Vienna is just not somewhere that did it for me. I had just come from a couple of weeks in Italy, which is probably my favorite country that I’ve traveled to so far. Maybe Vienna was in the wrong place at the wrong time, maybe I would have liked it more had I just come from somewhere else! Also, I too was disappointed with Stonehenge. The walkway around it was so far away, it felt like I was just looking at a picture of it.

One thing I have noticed, for me anyway, is when I have spent some time learning about the place, or the art, it’s more interesting to me. I’m currently taking an art and architecture history class just for this reason. I feel learning more lets me understand the place a bit more, so that I can appreciate it more. Knowing the story behind the places brings them more to life for me.

-Josh

I agree with you Matt, it’s all about finding what you like, isn’t finding yourself the best destination? In the same way, to travel as a hobby/lifestyle isn’t for everyone either which some people fail to grasp and insist everyone does it once they do it themselves when they meet people who arn’t like them.

But all these “must-see”, “must-do”,”must-eat” and etc are very good as references. Sometimes it means list of things I should avoid, sometimes I find interesting things I missed but would interested to see or to do. So I never ignore “must-…” list, just read them caution.

NomadicMatt

I don’t ignore them…they might give me ideas for places but I’d never chastise someone for disliking a place or skipping.

You know, I feel that there are some must-see places – but the thing is, when you tell people that, you get their expectations all worked up, and they are bound to be disappointed. We kept saying how the Luoyang Caves were the number one best thing we had seen in China, and when our friends went, they said they were underwhelmed. So I think the best policy is to slightly suggest, not rave. The same thing happens to me with movies. I always like the ones that people say are crap, because I’m expecting less.

Ya.. I totally agree that its our wish to go for the vacation where our personal interest.. SO destination doesn’t matters.. ON whole I love the blog..

Despite there not being a list of “must-sees,” it is interesting to note that of the top four “most popular” blog entries on this site, three of them are:

# Seven Things to Do in Iceland (Why You Should Go Right Now!)
# Top Ten Best Tropical Islands
# Best Places to Go Scuba Diving

NomadicMatt

True! But I never said they were a must see….I just said they were great. Whether or not it is must see, is up to you!

Yeah, I know. I was just being a bit cheeky.

I was trying to come up with something deep and meaningful to say on the issue, but failed, really. This is because I am actually torn on how to feel about the concept of “must-see” places. I have been close to a few places that I never actually ventured out to see – The Great Wall of China and Machu Pichu being notable places that I missed when in the area, for various reasons, and I don’t think that my trip suffered any for having not physically been at those places.

That being said, I always do look up to see what the “must sees” in a place I am going to are. I am heading down to Portugal and Spain next week, and am making trips out to Sintra and Salamanca because of all the press around them.

I think I agree with what Vilmis | Travel Tips said – the lists are good reference, but should be read with a bit of caution.

Just as an interesting add to this discussion, the best known and oft-quoted seven wonders of the ancient world was written by Antipater of Sidon, a writer of the 2nd century BC. He wrote a travel book in which he named seven “theamata,” which literally means “must-sees.” The Seven Wonders of the World is nothing more than a potential tour pamphlet by a Hellenic Lonely Planet writer.

I totally agree, there are no ‘Must- Sees’. That is one of the beauties of traveling solo, you can really just do whatever you desire. For me, I have sworn off most archeological sites for the moment and can relate to your ‘Killing Fields feeling’.

Great post.

I have to jump on the “I agree” bandwagon, having just traveled to Italy and completely skipped Rome in favor of staying a few extra days in another area. Ideally, traveling should be about being present and in the moment, and adjusting your itinerary as you see fit. This applies to taking time off when you’re sick (which you’ve recently written about) and it definitely applies to visiting/doing what you think you’ll most enjoy while skipping the rest. Yes, do your research and see what’s recommended, but don’t feel obligated to see those things just because everyone else has.

I will say that the opposite also holds true — don’t skip something just because it’s popular/touristy/on everyone’s must-see list. There’s often a good reason items make those lists!

Jorrit - Millican

Totally agree – nothing worse than having places hyped and then being bitterly disappointed. One man’s oyster is another man’s nightmare. Also it soooooo depends on how you take in a city – whether it’s a whistlestop tour or whether you have real time to wander and immerse yourself in the native culture. I hated Rome when I passed through it briefly once on a bus but you can bet that I’d love it if I had time to get out on foot and linger.

I totally agree. To everyone’s shock we skipped the Taj Mahal on a three month trip to India, and surprisingly I didn’t really like New York.

Everyone has different interests and you’ll have a much better trip if you follow your own interests rather than the ‘must-sees’. They are often so overcrowded that they are ruined anyway, and less well known sites can be much more enjoyable.

I don’t think we’d make good travel partners! I love Berlin. I love to wander around Prenzlauer Berg, stop in the cafes, and just enjoy the feel of a city that has so much history. Maybe it helps that I speak German, I don’t know. I also loved Vietnam, by far my favorite country in SE Asia, while I didn’t care so much for Thailand.

Obviously, travel is personal, and what one person likes isn’t what another likes. It’s just as with books or whatnot. The must-sees are in some ways like the classics. They have some quality that makes them noteworthy; they aren’t however going to appeal to everyone.

But sometimes I don’t think we should go places because we like them, but because they give us a better understanding of the world, of people, of life. As you are a champion of people better understanding the world, I think you should reconsider your stance on visiting a concentration camp. I worked at the U.S. Holocaust Museum as a researcher, so I’d say I have pretty good knowledge of the Holocaust, as much as any museum or reading can give you. But I didn’t really understand the reality of it until I stood inside the gates of a concentration camp. It wasn’t fun. But, for me, it was necessary. I guess for some people it’s not. I’d just say be open minded about it.

Theresa, I have to agree with you on your last paragraph. I’m interested in WW2 history and the impacts that it’s had on our current culture, and have read quite a bit about the holocaust. But it wasn’t until I stood inside the gates of Birkenau 2 that I felt the reality of what happened, the immense scope of it all. Or walking the beaches of Juno beach where thousands of people died. Or walking up to the Eiffel Tower for the first time and being amazed at the sheer size of it.

Sometimes you can read everything there is about a subject, but once you’re in that place it all comes together in an emotional way. It’s less factual, less historical and more tangible.. real.

Of course this is for things that your interested in.. if you have no interest in the Pyramids then why bother going? Just to say “I’ve been there?” That seems a bit self-serving.

I was just talking about this exact same thing with some friends. They had just gotten back from Europe and did the whirlwind we-saw-500-cities-in-2-weeks trip that people tend to do to check places off their list.

I think there’s a difference between people who travel and people who experience. There’s that vagabond spirit that some of us can’t get rid of. The curiosity to know a place from the inside out and to let it absorb us, too.

Al

This is something that I just had a conversation about with a good friend of mine. We are both fairly well traveled and we started talking about those “lists” — When I was much younger, I did have a list of places that I wanted to see. I wanted to see the 7 Wonders of the World. But, after a trip to Paris many years ago, I had a revelation. Yes, the Towel is nice, but after I took my picture, I was ready to move the hell on. The most fun I had there was being dubbed the unofficial tourguide of my friends guiding us around the town, getting lost, asking for directions, almost missing the TGV back to London; those are the things that I remember most about that trip. — At this point, when I think of travel, it’s about doing things …. Cooking lessons in Provence, learning Chinese in Beijing, a donkey ride in the Grand Canyon..

I totally agree that travel is personal, and about your interests, but I also think it’s important as members of the world to see some of the landmarks (i.e. popular tourist sites) of history.

Steve

I agree with the relativity of a ‘must-see’ place — but concentration camps are too important to skip as a matter of taste. Just as in Paris we eat snails instead of McDonald’s, tossing ourselves out of our comfort zone, we should do the same in rural Poland or Germany, removing ourselves from that comfort zone and reminding ourselves that European history is not endless palaces and caf├ęs.

Let us also remember that there are people everywhere from Tehran to Cincinnati that still deny these atrocities ever occurred — prove them wrong and become a witness yourself.

I kind of agree with you and your overall thinking. While there certainly is no such thing as a “must see” as travel is a very personal journey of your own tastes and interests, I do think that to travel a long distance and not experience some of the major sites/sights of a city can be a BIG mistake, and especially those related to significant elements of the world’s history. Certainly learning more and immersing yourself more in the culture is key to a good experience like you say. You almost need to visit some of the key sights once to make a judgement on whether you’d ever visit again. Visiting a location a second time often gives more chance to really select places of interest or getting out for short sidetrips. Saying all that, I think the world includes some things that must rate pretty close to “must sees” even if they end up as disappointments in some visitor’s eyes – go to Cairo but give the Pyramids a miss? Go to Beijing but give the Great Wall a miss? Go to Rome and give the Colosseum or St Peters Basilica a miss?

Jan

You just have to try places you think will fit, like shopping for clothes. Sometimes a friend will say “try it on, I love it”, but when you do it just doesn’t appeal. Other times you unwillingly try it on just to be friendly and it is “Wow, it does look good and feel right”! Fancy that, I’ll have two thanks.

I agree Matt that finding the area that makes your heart sing can really change your opinion of a place.
Jan.

I absolutely agree. I can understand why people get excited about a place they love and say you “must” go there, but it is rather annoying as everyone’s travel experience and interests are different. We didn’t go to the Taj Mahal despite spending 3 months in India, and it’s still our favourite country in the world. We just knew seeing a touristy building wasn’t going to compete with our experiences in homestays and villages throughout the country.

I think there is only such a thing as a “must see” when it’s a must see for you – something you personally really want to see. And for everyone that will be different.

What exactly do you think Auschwitz is if not a museum? It’s not like it’s a playground or a freaking movie set! I learned more about the Third Reich and the nazis in general in Auschwitz than I ever learned anywhere else. If you’d been to a concentration camp at all, you’d understand that it is not only an exceptional museum, but a LIVE one.

You’re definitely allowed to not want to do certain things. But to say that concentration camps are just a place where a bunch of people got killed… jeez, it’s hard for me to say something nice about that!

Also, I think that being closed to some places just demonstrates how close-minded a traveler can be. It’s not because you travel to places you know you will like that you have an open-mind… it’s by taking chances and experiencing NEW things.

While I agree that the idea of “must-sees” are fairly subjective, I think everyone has a list of their own somewhere in their heads. We all have things we want to see, no matter how you name it – a bucket list, must-sees or whatever. Terminology is tricky, but it all ends up being the same thing.

NomadicMatt

But now you are telling me something is a must see. I grew up learning about the Holocaust (I’m Jewish and have a WW2 obsessed father). Nazi death camps don’t appeal to me. I have ZERO desire to see them.

I completely agree! Now that I’m starting to think about where I want to start my travels (it will be in Europe, as I’ve never been before) I started to think about places I’ve always wanted to go, things that interested me in school/college, etc… And one of those things is the Holocaust. I have a weird (maybe morbid?) interest in it, and I do want to visit Auschwitz as well as possibly Anne Frank’s home. And I’m not big into museums, but when I read about the Holocaust museum in London (at least I’m pretty sure that’s where it was-I’ve done so much research lately everything is starting to blur together) I knew I absolutely had to check that out as well. Meanwhile, my father would think that the most ridiculous thing in the world, so yes, to each their own!

Ha. Berlin. In my case the same with Paris. I like France very much, but no Paris.

Sarah

Well, Auschwitz is a Holocaust museum at a concentration camp. What about that, hmm? :)

But I really like your post. No one should feel pressured to do something he or she isn’t interested in just because someone else says it’s great. Everybody has different interests and that’s okay. There’s more than enough in the world to make everyone happy.

Thanks for this article.You make a good point about the “must sees” I have had similar experiences causing me to wonder what the raving was about. I think one needs to follow one’s own gut feeling, Especially when it doesn’t seem to fit the mood of the trip.

Sometimes you can change your mind, too. I used to hate Amsterdam until I took my kids there and we had a great time.

NomadicMatt

I used to hate Bangkok and now it is one of my favorite cities.

Big V

I’m Polish (with a lot of Jewish blood in me) and I totally agree with Matt’s concentration camp comment. I only went there after my American (now ex) girlfriend insisted on going, and honestly it was a waste of a day me. Does it mean that I do not care? No. I probably know more about the Holocaust and Jewish history than 99% of people. Now I have friends that were moved to tears in Auschwitz, but I also had friends who pretty much went there to check it off their list, before hitting up strip clubs in Krakow that very evening. Paying respect is a very much internal and private thing and should not be confused with outward appearances such as going or not going to the concentration camp sites.

Oh, and I despise Paris. I’d pay money NOT to go there – it’s not what it used to be 20 years ago (and it’s going down hill quickly).

Synne

I don’t know if I have commented on your blog before, but I feel like I have to now. I have very conflicted feelings about Vietnam but agree with you post. I had just lived in India for a few months volunteering and then travelling, and boy India is intense and theres scamming and rudeness there too, though to me Vietnam was worse. When you travel as a foreigner there will always be scamming/muggin/robberies/bribery & corruption/hostility where ever you go. I am a person who can quickly overcome bad experiences, accept them and move on, notnholding grudges, and also see several sides of situations.
However, when I left Vietnam after 3 weeks I was relieved, happy, exhausted and frankly didn’t want to go back ever. I travelled all through South Asia, spending several weeks in each country. Before going to Vietnam I knew it was infamous for smaller crimes like the aforementioned, and I heard of people affirming this and telling about incidents before, during and after my trip. And sure all tourist hot-spots have this. Athough, these crimes have blossomed under the corrupted regime in Vietnam (I’m not as pretensious as that sentence sounds I promise). For half of my travelling there, I travellled with a vitenamese guide who told me alot about the country, its regime, politics and situation. It’s VERY different how liberal and open-minded the country is from HCMC to Ha Long to Hanoi and so on. HCMC has alot (!) of mugging though people are less hostile towards westernes, Hanoi is stricter and more old fashioned and here pick-pocketing is more common. He also said in Ha Long there had been a massive take down of corrupt leaders and fraud in recent years and that this was one of the more liberal places (athough I found there was alot of rich people here, including tourists). And I did notice difference in the general attitude, but one can never truly generalize, good and bad is everywhere.
Yet I found it more frequently in Vietnam, and it is getting increasingly worse, as tourism keeps flowing, but no sufficient measurements are taken. I think they eventually will learn, and are going to go through the same as Thailand did years ago. In addition you have the Vietnam war, whichs effect has caused ripples. Some are uneducated, some old-fashioned and believe that USA (which is all white poeple from the west) is to blame for the country’s misery, pain and poverty. Older generations as well as the state has passed it on. Im not saying it’s the majority of the people, I have to add I have nothing what so ever against the vietnamese! I have met so many lovely people who were polite,warm and amazing. I am just saying that in addition to the crimes and chicanery, a repercussion to the war was a grudge against the west. These combined does make it seem more hostile and rough than other SA countries.
Also statisticly there is more crime, so there is in fact a greater chance of experiencing crime there. Some are lucky and some not, and so people have different experiences as in all situations. I can say that I was a bit unlucky, and for me all the negativity wasn’t worth it for me to go back just yet. There are hundreds of other countries in this world!

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