Travel Disappointment: New Year’s Eve in Time Square

I try really hard to find the good in every place that I visit. Still, there are some place I’ve been, and experiences I’ve had which were just plain disappointing. The weekend in Prague where it never stopped raining, Saint Patrick’s day in Dublin (which involved absolutely no Irish people) and pretty much anytime I’ve ever spent in Baltimore for starters.

My most disappointing travel experience though was one that crops up on a lot of people’s bucket lists: New Year’s Eve in Times Square.

I’d wanted to participate ever since my grandmother told me she went as a twenty-something back in the 1930’s. I loved the idea of ringing in a new year in such a historic setting with thousands of other revilers. So I convinced my then boyfriend that we needed to ring in 2006 in just that fashion.

Here is what you have to look forward to if you choose to spend New Year’s Eve in Times Square

  • You will have to start queuing up for a spot at about 2pm, forcing you to be on your feet for 10-12 hours.
  • Even then you will still find yourself a good 8 blocks away from actual Times Square. The sparkly dropping ball, which is surprisingly small to begin with, will be a barely visible white dot on the horizon.
  • It will be really, ridiculously, painfully cold. The bright side of that is you will no longer be able to feel your aching feet.
  • You will feel this bone shaking cold despite being packed cheek to cheek with other disgruntled strangers.
  • You are not allowed to bring in alcohol. This will be a blessing in disguise actually, as there is nowhere you could even think about peeing.
  • The New Year’s countdown will last all of 10 seconds. The euphoria of the new year will be nothing matched to the euphoria you will feel at the fact that you can now go home. Of course it will take you another hour to pick your way out of the crowd and walk back to your overpriced hotel.

Can you see the New Year Ball here?

Needless to say it was NOT my favorite New Years. Still, 2006 would be the year I broke up with that boyfriend, found my independent self, studied abroad in England and discovered my love of travel.  So it wasn’t a total write off. Nonetheless I will be perfectly pleased never ever to repeat that touristic nightmare.

I spend a lot of time here talking about all the beautiful highlights of the world. While that is obviously important, for a change I’d like to talk about all of the experiences totally worth skipping.

So I want to know…

What has been your biggest travel disappointment?

This could be a place you visited that wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, an event that fizzled or any travel experience that proved to be a letdown. Anytime that a place has dashed your hopes and hurt your soul.

Leave a comment or send your answers to Steph(@) and I will feature the best ones in a post next week!

118 Responses to Travel Disappointment: New Year’s Eve in Time Square

  1. Nicole March 1, 2010 at 10:33 AM #

    I’ll have to think a little more about my biggest travel disappointment, but in the meantime, I’m sad to think you had such a lousy time spending New Year’s in Times Square. I had the chance to do it back in 1996. I’m sure things have changed since then. Security is always tighter everywhere and as the years go by and more and more people want to do it, the crowds get bigger. We didn’t have to line up quite as early as you did (though still very early). We were staying at a hotel right in Times Square which was helpful in gauging how early we needed to go out. It was downright frigid that New Years and we brought the blankets and towels from the hotel out with us (the hotel laundry crew must have loved us!) Sure it was cold and a long time to stand up waiting (I find so many of my “bucket list” activities involve a lot of waiting around), but I thought the whole experience was worth it. The final countdown and all the confetti and balloons and excitement was, well, so exciting! Maybe I just enjoy the anticipation more than most. I’ll think about my most disappointing experience and get back to you. :o)

    • Steph March 1, 2010 at 10:44 AM #

      Thanks for weighing in Nicole. One thing I keep finding is that people can come away from the same experience with very different opinions. A lot of people must find the Times Square thing worthwhile or it wouldn’t be so absurdly popular right?

  2. Candice March 1, 2010 at 12:25 PM #

    Eeeesh. Yeah, seems like it could be either hit or miss, huh? It’d be a cool experience for a little while. But I hate being outdoors anytime when it’s cold.

    My biggest travel disappointment was the whole city of Dublin…nothing felt Irish about it at all and people were rude as hell. BUT I’m willing to give it a second chance…a lot of my feelings probably stem from the fact I picked up a stomach bug while there and I was miserable. If I do ever make it back to Ireland though, I want to see much more outside the city.
    .-= Candice´s last blog ..One Night Out in Halifax, Or Why Newfoundlanders Are Spoiled =-.

    • Steph March 1, 2010 at 12:53 PM #

      I was dissapointed with Dublin as well! I found it very drab and expensive- more expensive than london even! I am positive that there is a lot more to Ireland than that though.

      • ehalvey March 1, 2010 at 7:45 PM #

        Dublin is much different from the rest of Ireland. It is drab from October to May, though. The museums are wonderful, though!! I studied in Dublin in 04, and I’ve been back 3 more times (my husband’s from Navan, Co. Meath). Go to Galway for a great experience.
        .-= ehalvey´s last blog ..Art History Nerd Alert =-.

      • grace b March 1, 2010 at 9:22 PM #

        I was in Dublin in 2007 and I loved the culture (this was also my first time abroad) and the fact that it was so walkable. However my Mom and I found the early closing time of many things annoying (it was closer to the end of our stay that our patience was wearing thin) and I missed the sun like woah. It was June and felt like March. I have a good friend who is from Dublin and would still love to visit again.

        Oh Steph I’m curious–what has disappointed you in Baltimore? My parents live there and I was home over the weekend and spent a lot of time walking around the city. I must admit I have a love/hate relationship with Baltimore even though I haven’t spent a lot of time there (commuted back and forth for work reasons over the winter and now am home sporadically).

        Whew sorry that’s a novel of a comment!
        .-= grace b´s last blog ..a real live wire =-.

        • Steph March 1, 2010 at 10:07 PM #

          Haha, DC and Baltimore have a bit of a rivalry to tell the truth. Baltimore does have some high points (love the Museum of Outsider Art) but I mainly find it dirty, congested and vaguely threatening. Also I always seem to get lost there and can’t find my way out.

        • grace b March 2, 2010 at 10:28 AM #

          Yea after living in D.C. last semester I would definitely chose D.C. over Baltimore. You go two blocks in one direction in Baltimore and suddenly you’re in a very unsafe area. But the museums and Inner Harbor are nice. I would like to see more community efforts in Baltimore to get the city out of it’s deplorable crime and drug problems. I observed lots of this in D.C. and while it didn’t completely erase those problems it encouraged communities and the city to do something about it. I think that Baltimore relies too much on the government to create incentives when really charter schools, community programs, soup kitchens (from my experience) could be more effective.

          Whew, ok getting off my soap box!
          .-= grace b´s last blog ..a real live wire =-.

        • Morgan September 13, 2011 at 9:32 PM #

          It’s interesting, because I grew up in a DC suburb and was accustomed to that city, but I moved to Baltimore and have been here for a couple of years and love it. I understand how Baltimore might be hard to enjoy unless you live here though- you really have to know where to go. There are so many incredible communities and Baltimore has a strong grassroots movement. But the “touristy” things to do get boring pretty quickly. Also, Baltimore is way cheaper to live and party in than DC. Paying cover charges for every DC bar on the weekend? No thanks.

        • Steph September 18, 2011 at 8:39 PM #

          I met some people from Baltimore this weekend who also really love it! I’m sure it has a lot of good merits.

    • Nicole November 14, 2011 at 2:34 PM #

      The best places to visit in Ireland are the small towns, that’s where all of the good times take place!

      I spent three months in Clifden, 50 minutes from Galway (way out west in the middle of Connemara) and it was fantastic. The people were wonderful and despite the small population, the nightlife was grand!

      I recommend flying into Shannon and exploring the west. Then, make your way down to West Cork and check out the amazing coastline. If you have the time, go to Belfast and drive the Antrim Coast to Giant’s Causeway. The drive is incredible.

      The gems of Ireland are in the countryside.

  3. Chinamatt March 1, 2010 at 1:37 PM #

    I’ve lived near NYC most of my life and never even wanted to go to Times Square for New Year’s Eve. I’ve only been to the city once on NYE, and that was painful enough with the crowds in bars.

    My biggest disappointment was probably Vancouver. Mostly because I didn’t find anything really interesting in the city and we didn’t have enough time to go anywhere outside it, which would’ve been much more fun.
    .-= Chinamatt´s last blog ..End of the Festival =-.

  4. Becs March 1, 2010 at 3:24 PM #

    Rome, Italy

    It was my first time to Europe and I had been away from home at a high school art program for 3.5 weeks before we even left. Was home for one night and then left for my first trip to Europe for another 3.5 weeks. Rome was the last stop and at that point, I just wanted to get home already. So I’ll give it another shot. Just not anytime soon.

    • Steph March 1, 2010 at 10:07 PM #

      Go figure, Rome is one of my favorite cities! Guess it just proves the point we were discussing above.

      • ehalvey March 2, 2010 at 10:59 AM #

        I loved Rome as well. Even though it was super hot. I’m a bit biased since I took about 5 Roman (ancient, Renaissance, Baroque) architecture classes.

        • marta March 4, 2010 at 11:18 AM #

          Noooo, Rome is just amazing you have to give it another shot Becs
          .-= marta´s last blog ..Snapshot of the week: let’s fly away =-.

    • Alison March 23, 2011 at 12:12 AM #

      I had the same experience with Berlin. It was at the end of a four-week trip and I was tired and it was grossly hot there. I was ready to go home and never wanted to return. Then, when I had to return twice in one year, I tried lots of new things and had some absolutely wonderful experiences.

      I was also disappointed in Rome though. I had a fabulous time, but I was sad to discover that aside from the Colosseum and water fountains, the ruins did not impress me, and I blame that on an incredible time in Athens where I was impressed. Knowing how my feelings changed with Berlin, I would love to try Rome again.

  5. ehalvey March 1, 2010 at 7:48 PM #

    Toronto, Canada.

    It felt so run down in much of the downtown area. I was staying next to the harbor near the convention center and felt like 2 blocks in any direction quickly became sketchy. The museums were nice. The rest, not so much. Windy and rainy didn’t help.
    .-= ehalvey´s last blog ..Art History Nerd Alert =-.

    • Steph March 1, 2010 at 10:08 PM #

      So we have Vancouver and Toronto on the list now…

    • Kit March 5, 2010 at 8:52 AM #

      Nooo, not Toronto! I loved it there a couple of years ago. September. Very pretty main downtown area (not harborside). Interesting North American history. But at the same time, I would not tell you to return immediately.

  6. Joya March 1, 2010 at 11:13 PM #

    Madrid didn’t impress me that much. I was able to visit a friend there which was good because she took me to places devoid of tourists but I guess since it was more of a bustling city I didn’t get that authentic Spanish feel like I did in Barcelona.
    .-= Joya´s last blog ..My 3 Best Kept Travel Secrets =-.

    • Steph March 2, 2010 at 6:14 PM #

      I’ve only been to Madrid in Spain, and I’m longing to check out the rest of the country.

    • Kelsey March 3, 2010 at 8:58 AM #

      I’ve heard similar things about Madrid.
      .-= Kelsey´s last blog ..Travel Tuesday Photo: Me & the Jindo =-.

      • Steph March 3, 2010 at 9:16 AM #

        I actually really liked Madrid! Although I see how it could pale in comparison to the rest of Spain.

  7. Kelsey March 2, 2010 at 10:31 AM #

    I’d have to say that it was probably my vacation with Marc while I was living in South Korea.

    Marc and I had planned for him to come visit me at some point during my year of living in Korea, probably during the summer, since he was still in grad school at the time. I arrived in Korea on May 25th in 2008, and sometime in late June my school informed me that I would have two weeks off at the end of July. I quickly made ticket reservations for Marc to come and see me. Unfortunately, after the tickets had already been booked, my school told me that they wanted me to teach an English camp and that I would only get *one* week off. That was disappointment #1. Marc came over and at least I got to show him around the island I lived on for a week before we could start our “real” vacation (it also let him sleep while I was at work so he could get over jetlag). Unfortunately, disappointment #2 was that since I had only been in Korea for a month and half by the time he arrived, I still couldn’t communicate very well, and I didn’t know the island all that well, and I didn’t have my motorcycle yet to take him around and show him the cool stuff. When I finally had my vacation days, we planned to go up to Gangwondo, the forested, mountainous province up north that is famous for both its beauty and its history from the Korean War. Unfortunately, what we didn’t know is that the buses run so rarely up there that we couldn’t really get to any of the small villages that are where all the beauty and the history are. Then, we went to Seoul, and since I had never been to Seoul, neither of us knew where anything was, and it also rained most of the time.

    At the end of the vacation I felt as if I had really disappointed Marc after having expended so much time, effort, and money to get him all the way over to Korea. He really just cared about seeing me, but I still felt badly about it.
    .-= Kelsey´s last blog ..Motorcyle Monday: Chang Jiang Girls =-.

    • Steph March 2, 2010 at 6:59 PM #

      I feel like when people come to visit me abroad there is a lot of pressure which makes it easy for things to turn disappointing.

      • Kelsey March 3, 2010 at 8:58 AM #

        Yes, I definitely agree. That’s also one of the reasons I tend to travel solo – since I’m usually the one leading, there’s a lot of pressure.
        .-= Kelsey´s last blog ..Travel Tuesday Photo: Me & the Jindo =-.

  8. Shannon OD March 2, 2010 at 1:39 PM #

    Although I know that tons of people lately have been raving about Croatia, I found it lacking. I don’t know what it was about the cities I visited there, but the people were just not that friendly – I thought it was a cultural thing until I went to Bosnia and absolutely loved it…gotta say, I have no plans to head back to Croatia…it was disappointing. 🙂
    .-= Shannon OD´s last blog ..A Little Quandary…When do you Donate? =-.

    • Steph March 2, 2010 at 6:55 PM #

      Although I didn’t have any problem with all those warm adriatic beaches, I liked bosnia better too!

  9. Garrett March 2, 2010 at 1:45 PM #

    My biggest travel disappointment was easily my hungover adventure to Rio de Janeiro. I was spending a month living with my Brazilian friend in Belo Horizonte and we stayed up until 6 AM after a long night of drinking cachaca. We fell asleep only to be woken up 30 minutes later for our trip to Rio.

    We arrived tired, hungover and distracted. We were only there for 2 days and I spent most of it sucking on a bottle of life-giving H2O. Needless to say, next time I’m in Rio, I’ll do it in a much better state of mind!

    • Steph March 2, 2010 at 6:56 PM #

      oh gosh hangovers make everything seem horrible! I tend to just get sick when I travel, which puts a similar dismal fog over things.

  10. Nicole March 2, 2010 at 3:31 PM #

    Ok, I’ve got one now. Austin, TX. Everyone keeps raving about it. It’s supposed to be such an up-and-coming city. Well, maybe if I were 21 again and into the whole clubbing/bar scene. We did see the giant bat flight at twilight which was cool (though again with the long wait in uncomfortable…this time HOT…weather). But basically to me Austin was just another city with nothing particularly memorable about it. A college town that might be cool if I were still in college.

    • Steph March 2, 2010 at 6:57 PM #

      I haven’t been to Austen but I usually hear good things so that is interesting to know!

    • Kelsey March 3, 2010 at 8:53 AM #

      It’s a cool town, but only in comparison to the rest of Texas/the South. The rest of Texas is incredibly boring, so Austin with its parks, Barton Springs, good restaurants, and great bookstores is quite a treat. Austin is also definitely one of those places that strongly benefits from getting a personal, local tour. The best parts of Austin are the places where the locals are, in my experience.
      .-= Kelsey´s last blog ..Travel Tuesday Photo: Me & the Jindo =-.

    • grace b March 4, 2010 at 11:53 AM #

      Austin has been on my to-go list for awhile now but I guess it isn’t that exciting all the time!
      .-= grace b´s last blog ..a real live wire =-.

      • Kit March 5, 2010 at 8:56 AM #

        Ok so the Austinite has to chime in – Austin definitely requires a plan and that includes outdoor activities. Canoeing, seeing the 5 highland lakes, going west into the hills for camping/cookout, seeing the music and food anchors in the city, the French legation, TexMex, all 5 campuses, various spas, the bookstores and coffeeshops, the local stores…as some one mentioned, maybe Austin now requires a tourguide. I’d say try again another time, but not in college mindset. It would be disappointing if yer not 21 and trying to drink on 6th street.

  11. Alouise March 2, 2010 at 7:08 PM #

    I’d always wanted to visit Paris, so I was really excited when I took a Europe tour a couple years back and there was a one night stop in Paris. But I got sick and spent the entire time sleeping, my foray into French cuisine was crackers and bottled water. In the evening I finally felt okay enough to go to The Louvre for an hour, I rushed by everything just to see The Mona Lisa. It didn’t really live up to the hype, but maybe if I had time to savor everything I’d feel different.

    I thought Switzerland was beautiful but taking the train up The Jungfrau was a let down. This was on the same trip and I had a cold at this point. Let me tell you an increase in elevation is not a good thing if your sinuses are already plugged up. It was pretty at the top, but quite expensive. For people who don’t experience snow and the mountains, I’m sure it’s a wonderful new experience. But I live in Canada, where there’s lots of snow and I’m only 4 hours away from the Rockies. So the dog sledding and tobogganing and winter activities at the top weren’t anything new and exciting for me. Although it was fun to watch the people who’d never walked on snow or ice before trying not to fall.
    .-= Alouise´s last blog ..Everything I Ever Learned I Learned From The Amazing Race, Kinda =-.

    • Steph March 2, 2010 at 10:02 PM #

      I said this above but it is funny how your health can affect your opinions of a place! I coughed my way all over western europe and definitely didnt appreciate it.

      I have an article back in the archives about how I’ve never been to Paris and don’t really have any desire to go. guess that means I wont be let down at least when I actually make it!

    • Kelsey March 3, 2010 at 8:55 AM #

      I’ve been to that region of Switzerland several times, and have never yet gone up the Jungfrau. The weather has to be perfect for it to be worth the money, and I usually just end up hiking instead.
      .-= Kelsey´s last blog ..Travel Tuesday Photo: Me & the Jindo =-.

    • alexis September 8, 2010 at 3:00 PM #

      Paris was a big let down for me also! I also got sick upon arrival and was non too thrilled. there was a big pile of poop on the ground, and being sick, this was the last thing i wanted to see. the people were also not very nice. there was a long line to get to the top of the Eiffel Tower, so I didn’t go. The only good thing about Paris was the Sacred Heart and also their crepe and nutella.

      I did love Switzerland though! I went to Zermatt to go snowboarding with my boyfriend and the view while on the train was amazing. Switzerland was beautiful and we definitely had a blast. =)

      • Steph September 12, 2010 at 10:43 PM #

        A pile of poop? That requires more explanation pleez

        • alexis September 13, 2010 at 7:07 PM #

          i was walking towards to eiffel tower and there was poop on the sidewalk and it looked like it was smeared by something since it was in the middle of a busy sidewalk. it was so disgusting! we guessed it was dog poop that nobody cleaned? it was near the eiffel tower…

        • Steph September 13, 2010 at 7:50 PM #

          Gross! Hate it when people don’t clean up after their dogs.

  12. JoAnna March 2, 2010 at 9:44 PM #

    Fortunately, no particularly bad travels come to mind, which I guess is a good thing, though I imagine I’m bound to have a crappy experience eventually.
    .-= JoAnna´s last blog ..Where to Go? 8 Ways to Choose Your Next Travel Destination =-.

  13. AdventureRob March 3, 2010 at 4:41 AM #

    I feel for you about the waiting. I spent this new years in Sydney, got down there at 11am to get a good spot. At least it was warm though! Disapointment is no-one in my area saw the countdown, so the actual cheer was completely missed!

    I don’t have a specific disapointment that stands out though. I’d say the cost of being in Australia was the most biggest ‘thing’ although I’m not sure that it counts. I’m coming out of here not so financially well as I thought I would.
    .-= AdventureRob´s last blog ..Mid-Week Photo: Royal National Park =-.

    • Kelsey March 3, 2010 at 8:57 AM #

      I’ve definitely heard bad things about the expense of Australia.
      .-= Kelsey´s last blog ..Travel Tuesday Photo: Me & the Jindo =-.

    • Steph March 3, 2010 at 9:14 AM #

      I think that 90% of the time New Years plans end up being a HUGE let down- at least for me!

    • danielle November 8, 2012 at 2:58 PM #

      Haha Rob, I had exactly the same experience with sydney new year…we ended up seeing just the tops of the fireworks over the buildings…big disappointment! Although I have to say that Australia rarely disappoints except in the price department.

  14. Joel March 3, 2010 at 9:03 AM #

    I’m never really disappointed when I travel because the sheer act of traveling is always a thrill.

    I would like to give Tokyo another chance, though. I was only there for a day and a half for meetings, so I only had time for a quick night tour around some of the nightlife areas. Definitely interesting, but not something I found appealing.

    Someday I’ll go back and check it out a bit more in depth.
    .-= Joel´s last blog ..Guest Post at “A Pair of Panties and Boxers” =-.

    • Steph March 3, 2010 at 9:15 AM #

      Yeah I have tokyo as one of the first stops on my big trip itinerary and I got really intimidated just reading about it. I’ve heard mixed things on whether it’s awesome/skippable. Will be interested to find out for myself!

  15. Unbravegirl March 3, 2010 at 10:16 AM #

    My biggest travel disappointment was when I went to Detroit (from Japan) for a weekend (yes, that’s right…. my flight time combined was longer than I had on the ground) to visit a man I thought I was in love with. Turns out, I wasn’t in love with him, he wasn’t in love with me… and I was in Detroit. Uggh. Oh, and some Taiwanese woman stole my cookies (Mint Milano cookies, mind you!) on the flight back. Bad, bad, bad trip!
    P.S. As for Tokyo, I say skip it! I lived in Japan for 4 years & dreaded going to Tokyo every time my friends would visit & insist on going there. Head to Osaka instead… it has all the bright lights/big city but a lot less intimidating & the people are cooler & more down-to-earth. Plus it’s close by Kyoto, Kobe, Himeji & even Hiroshima.

    • Steph March 3, 2010 at 12:27 PM #

      That DOES sound pretty dissapointing from all angles.

      thanks for the Tokyo input!

  16. Lilian March 3, 2010 at 11:07 AM #

    For me, it would have to be my trip years ago to Shenzhen, China. I felt that it was wasted time and I could have spent more time in Hong Kong instead. Besides the “miniature famous buildings” park with fake Niagara Falls and all, and shopping, there wasn’t much to do. At that time, the pollution was really bad too…..

    I hated it with a vengeance!

    • Steph March 3, 2010 at 12:26 PM #

      a vengeance?! eek!

  17. Cornelius Aesop March 3, 2010 at 11:07 AM #

    Aww you just killed #36 of my Bucket List Oh well I still gotta try it. I don’t have any major travel disappointments, other than I’m not Round The World traveling or location independent……yet.
    .-= Cornelius Aesop´s last blog ..New Brew Tuesday: Warsteiner Lemon =-.

    • Stephanie March 3, 2010 at 11:13 AM #

      When I looked at your list I accident read 39 instead of 36: “39. Spend a whole day making love without every leaving the house.”

      Would hate to discourage anyone from that!
      .-= Stephanie´s last blog ..What is your Biggest Travel Disappointment? =-.

  18. leslie March 3, 2010 at 11:07 AM #

    My worst travel experience was visiting London for a week in 2009. I was disappointed by the lack of late-night public transportation and spent much more time walking than I was accustomed to. The London Eye was terrible and the weather was gloomy everyday. To make matters worst, bed bugs came back with me which just completely ruined the entire trip.
    .-= leslie´s last blog ..Starting the Journey to Financial & Physical Health =-.

    • Steph March 3, 2010 at 12:28 PM #

      It is annoying how early the tube closes. There’s actually a pretty extensive night bus network but you kind of have to know what you’re doing.

  19. thalia March 3, 2010 at 11:08 AM #

    i visited turkey recently (it’s my complete favorite country- been there twice) with my friend. she had gotten some advice from another friend of hers that lived in istanbul for a while that cappadocia was not a place to miss and to not overlook it. our trip was planned for 10 days- i had flown in from canada. we spent the first four days travelling all the way to goreme (in cappadocia)- making stops on the way. then we spent four days in the tiny town of goreme. with all the momentum of the first four days, i had a really hard time just slowing to a stop. the hostel owners were strange- we stayed in a cave, which as cool as it was, the novelty wears off after a few days. not to mention my asthma, which came back from living in a damp cave. we also ran into a sketchy guy on a beautiful trail walk. all in all, a great trip (it was a great escape from the office!!) but goreme was a bit of a disappointment.

    • Steph March 3, 2010 at 12:29 PM #

      I’ve heard good things about cappadocia. It’s funny how many of the things people have listed are really about external factors.

      • thalia March 3, 2010 at 3:07 PM #

        cappadocia is beautiful, i’ll give it that! but there’s only so much awesome volcano rock to see before it all looks the same. (and i grew up in saudi arabia!)

      • Cari March 5, 2010 at 8:30 PM #

        But what’s an external factor to an experience? There’s no such thing as a place unto itself…unless it’s a postcard. The underwhelming food, cloudy views, and boring people are still essential to the journey. It’s taken quite a few trips, but I’ve finally been able to just GO and experience without holding on too tightly to how I think everything should be. Not ALL travel is sublime. In a way, that’s sort of the point. You just do and take it for what it is. It’s never the place or the weather or the circumstances that disappoint, it’s the expectations that you bring to it.
        .-= Cari´s last blog ..My Lady Syria =-.

  20. Jess March 3, 2010 at 8:58 PM #

    The Cu Chi Tunnels in Vietnam is surely my biggest travel disappointment. They have been transformed into a little Vietnam War Disneyland, complete with firing range and what our guide termed “VC KFC” – aka a place to eat the cassava plant that Viet Cong soldiers lived on for months at a time. At least the tour only cost $5…
    .-= Jess´s last blog ..Long-Term Travel and Why It’s (Probably) Not For Me =-.

    • Steph March 5, 2010 at 11:20 AM #

      interesting… Vietnam War Disneyland is a great description!

  21. marta March 4, 2010 at 11:20 AM #

    i think hong kong was not a real disappointment but really kinda a boring, maybe cause we spent 5 days stuck in the city center
    .-= marta´s last blog ..Snapshot of the week: let’s fly away =-.

  22. brian March 4, 2010 at 5:07 PM #

    I was lucky. When I went to Times Square for New Year’s it was in the 40s/50s F with a slight rain. Warm enough that we hardly felt any cold since we were penned in like cattle by the NYPD.

    I loved Paris, but the Mona Lisa was underwhelming. It’s so small, everything you see makes you think it is a 10 foot tall portrait.

    Ruins at Chichen Itza was my most disappointing travel experience. I was expecting them to be bigger. The Pyramids of Giza lived up to all my expectations and more.
    .-= brian´s last blog ..Best Travel News and Deals – March 2, 2010 – Most Traveled Man, Beat Your Travel Slump, Expert Travel Tips, Travel and Get Paid for It, Backpacker Acts of Kindness, Arthur Frommer =-.

    • Steph March 5, 2010 at 11:19 AM #

      I’ve heard that about the Mona Lisa before. Very tiny.

  23. Rick March 5, 2010 at 10:29 AM #

    I’d have to say Vancouver. Sure the harbor area is nice, and the mountains are pretty, Granville Island is nice. But Gastown is a letdown. Three blocks in from the water, you’re in the middle of a pretty rough-around-the edges harbor town.

    • Steph March 5, 2010 at 11:19 AM #

      that’s two for vancouver I think!

  24. Abhi March 5, 2010 at 4:13 PM #

    Not meeting someone I had planned to, on my trip to DC, was disappointing! 😛

    On a more serious note, the recent snowstorm in Northeast wiped out my NYC trip with flight cancellations. That was disappointing. 🙁
    .-= Abhi´s last blog ..A quick update =-.

    • Steph March 6, 2010 at 10:46 AM #

      Oooh called out!

      Yeah that snowstorm definitely cause a lot of headaches for anyone traveling on the east coast…

  25. Cari March 5, 2010 at 8:21 PM #

    This post is hilarious. Maybe the reason everyone seems so happy to see the ball drop is that they are relieved to finally get to go home?
    .-= Cari´s last blog ..My Lady Syria =-.

  26. Emily @ Maiden Voyage March 7, 2010 at 6:27 PM #

    I was actually quite disappointed with Rome. Maybe I had built it up way too much in my head. While the history and architecture was grand, I felt like the city was really dirty. It was also a very hot summer, and the heat really got to us. I had trouble finding good food (crazy, I know), and people weren’t very friendly. I had expected so much, but was overall very underwhelmed. I went to the small town of Perugia next, which I hadn’t been too excited about, and absolutely fell in love — it was the idyllic Italy I had always dreamed of. That made up for any prior disappointment!

  27. JJ March 8, 2010 at 12:38 PM #

    To me, going on a cruise was a big disappointment. At the time, I was in my 40’s and was chaperoning two 18 year olds whose parents had given them the trip as a graduation present, and I was asked to chaperone. I didn’t mind the chaperoning, I was honored to have been asked. However, I didn’t like having to eat at a pre-selected time and having everything “scheduled.”

    That’s why I like traveling in my RV
    .-= JJ´s last blog ..CONTENTS =-.

  28. aisha March 10, 2010 at 10:14 PM #

    i live in new york and you know what’s weird? every year when new year comes i always contemplate going to Times Square to see the ball drop…for all of about 1 minute. Same with everyone one I ask…we figured that most of the people that are there happen to be tourists because no one i know wants to stand that long outside in the freezing cold to see a shiny ball drop. especially when you get a much better version right at home watching it on a television. but at least you can say you did it.

  29. J.K. March 11, 2010 at 8:15 PM #

    My husband and I traveled from Vietnam to Cambodia. We went all that way but missed the chance to see Angkor Wat. Because I became very ill, we had to stay in Phnom Penh. So instead of taking a boat to Siem Reap to see the ancient temple, we had to return our tickets. It was a huge disappointment.
    .-= J.K.´s last blog ..Craft of the Week: Making a St. Patrick’s Day Shamrock Garland from Yarn =-.

    • Steph March 11, 2010 at 10:48 PM #

      that DOES sound like a huge disappointment!

  30. i tried and tried and thought so hard to find an answer to your question and thought, for the life of me i cannot remember a single disappointing trip. like you said about yourself, i try to find the good in everything and everywhere. but hten i remembered a trip i took over 10 years ago (yes, im that old) to the bahamas, and perhaps it was my fault, but i managed to get on the wrong bus and headed for the wrong part of the island. needless to say i got worked over by one of the locals. i managed to get back on another bus and get out of there, but it surely left a disappointing mark on my memory for years to come. the only thing that saved me was a young couple that witnessed my escape, and they actually took me in, showed me the resort that they worked at, got me in on all of the activities for free, and fed me a conch feast to remember. so i guess even during some of the most negative or disappointing parts of your trip, you will find something positive that can cover up the negative.
    .-= [email protected]´s last blog ..Of Pixels & Personalities =-.

    • Steph May 21, 2010 at 12:55 PM #

      That’s very true, even the rottenest experiences usually have a silver lining!

  31. Cornelius Aesop October 14, 2010 at 9:22 AM #

    I’m attempting this, this year. I’m ready for the disappointment but I still want to do it.

    • Steph October 18, 2010 at 11:11 PM #

      Good luck- it’s definitely worth doing once- but only once.

  32. Eurotrip Tips November 22, 2010 at 12:45 PM #

    I made a short list of my travel regrets here…

    Mostly it’s the lack of friendships. I wish I had been more outgoing and engaging.

  33. Priyank December 30, 2010 at 11:28 AM #

    Hi Steph,
    It might sound strange but the Taj Mahal was kinda disappointing. I loved the place, don’t get me wrong, but when I got to it, it just didn’t spark a “wow” feeling. Perhaps because I had seen hundreds of picture perfect Taj Mahals in the past, or maybe I was simply exhausted from all the traveling. Funny how these things happen… 🙂
    – Priyank

  34. Ellie January 12, 2011 at 7:39 PM #

    I have to say London, of all places I wanted to go there, none was what I expected. Not at all. Don’t get me wrong – they all looked exaclty as I expected them, but they seemed painfully normal. Not like you see on TV.

  35. Alicia January 13, 2011 at 12:24 AM #

    Wow that is a very tough question for me because I consider all my travels very fulfilling whether for work or pleasure. What is so very disappointing to me is this one time that I have to cancel trip. I made all the preparations and all and something happened and I have to cancel my trip. Waste of time and money especially so I don’t have travel insurance that time.

  36. mike January 23, 2011 at 2:18 PM #

    probably the leaning tower of pisa…and to be perfectly honest…the taj mahal was a little bit of a let down!

    • Steph January 31, 2011 at 8:04 AM #

      I’ve heard that about the leaning tower before- but never about the taj mahal!

  37. Mike Key January 30, 2011 at 4:41 PM #

    I’ve had a lot of those moments where you think something you’ve seen pictures of is going to be so awesome, just like your Time’s Square experience, but then you show up, you see it and then 5 minutes later you’re like, well seen it, ready to go now.

    • Steph January 31, 2011 at 6:24 AM #

      Yeah, it’s always a shame when that happens, luckily I’ve had lots of experiences of the reverse as well- lots of amazing stuff out ther.

  38. Kevin February 27, 2011 at 9:49 AM #

    I had terrible food poisoning and for the entire week there I didn’t see anyone who spoke English well enough to have a conversation. My Spanish was poor so the only interaction I had was brief spurts with shopkeepers. It was lonely.

  39. Ashleigh March 23, 2011 at 1:15 PM #

    Venice was my biggest disappointment by FAR as was Dublin and I went in with high expectations as Id been to the North of Ireland multiple times (my mom and family are from there) and absolutely loved it. Belfast is the best! I’m giving Dublin another shot next year though but I will def be spending more time in Galway. That city is everything I dream Ireland to be.

  40. Libia July 18, 2011 at 4:42 AM #

    My biggest disappointment was Santiago de Chile in South America..My husband and I planned a trip to ski in the Andes and chose Santiago de Chile. After reading reviews we decided to book the trip. I dont recommend anybody skiing in Santiago. first: it’s very expensive the lift tickets were about 50 and 60 bucks on the weekends, the chair lifts,and the infrastructure in general were no near close to be called a decent ski resort . 60 bucks for a bad a service,bad lifts and the skiing itself that sucked not worth the money. not only that you have to pay and additional 40 dollar ride to get to the top of the mountain every time you want to ski so add that up to your ski trip. and the way up is horrible ( it takes about an hour to get to the top)the way up is so rough that people started to get sick. another fact was that we didnt want to take our ski equipment so we didnt have to carry much luggage around and decided instead to rent upon arrival. went to three different rentals and they all had out dated skis and boots and they charged between 30 and 40 dollars for them ..not even in the US we payed that much. thank god we had a good budget for the trip but were very disappointed with all the high costs because its definitely not worth paying. we decided then to explore the city ,Santiago is the capital of Chile, so we decided to take city tours and didnt find it interesting at all. We’ve been to South America before and for us Santiago was more any urban city that lacked on historical tourist attractions or attractions in general. The food is expensive as well and not as tasty as other cuisines. the people are not too welcoming either. I’ve been to South America before, travel around Ecuador, Colombia and Peru and find the people more welcoming towards foreigners, tours activities and cuisine incredibly cheap probably half of the prices in Chile and a lot more going on as far as culture,cityseeing. we personally recommend Peru and Colombia definitely skip Santiago.

  41. Stan July 22, 2011 at 6:09 PM #

    For me it was the Greek island of Rhodes. For some reason Greek taxi drivers, restaurant owners and hotel staff think that cheating and downright stealing your money is the best way to do business. Well, I’m not going there ever again. No wonder Greece is in deeeeep trouble right now with such an attitude of plenty of its citizens.

    • Vojtech October 5, 2012 at 6:12 PM #

      I was in Rhodes for 4months and i worked in hotel,that was not my first time in Greece and i definitely never had that feeling that some staff trying to cheat or steal your money in some way…. But anyway i´m not really liked this island,i´m forest lover and Rhodes is so “dry”,i much more like Samos Island and i really can recommend it,quite tiny pretty green island with few beautiful towns and city harbours

  42. Sarah July 27, 2011 at 6:52 PM #

    Sorry to hear you had a bad time in Dublin. I’m Irish and don’t especially like it either. I’m from Galway, happy to see it’s getting a lot of love!

    My biggest disappointment was a few years ago when my family and I stayed in a small Austrian village outside of Innsbruck.It was off-season and we timed it really badly.It seemed like every day was a holiday when we there so everything was closed.Found it very hard to find anything to until we moved to the bigger cities.Still enjoyed my time there though, I tend to enjoy all aspects of travel.

    • Steph July 28, 2011 at 6:54 PM #

      Can’t wait to see more of Ireland- it sounds amazing!

  43. melomakarona September 11, 2011 at 12:09 PM #

    For some reason I’ve always wanted to spend new years eve on Times Square. Back in 2008 I was spending a year abroad in the States so when new years eve came, of course I was in New York….but in the end I didn’t spend it on Times Square! I just figured I could find a more fun way to spend that evening rather than waiting in the cold outside for hours and hours for just those 10 seconds (I ended up going to a couchsurfing party which was held in a small apartment in downtown with 200+ people from all over the world)

    PS. My biggest travel disppointment: not starting to hitchhike earlier :))

  44. Joel Tillman October 18, 2011 at 11:58 AM #

    The worse travel decision to date is walking around the very rural areas of southern Philippines. 10 people following you yelling “Massage! You want massage?!” even after you told them all no, cab drivers trying to overcharge you and refusing to use the meter, kids yelling horrible words at you when you don’t have money to give them and lucrative women trying to propose sex to you (prostitutes) when you have told them that the girl you are next to is your girlfriend.

    BUT besides that it is a wonderful place to visit. I would do it again in a heartbeat. You should consider it if you are ever in the Asians.

  45. Nadia | Gap Daemon February 7, 2012 at 7:01 AM #

    Prague for me – had heard so many good things about it, but when I got there it was SO TOURISTY! Just did my head in. Didn’t really help that I’d just stayed for a week in Olomouc, another Czech city that whipped Prague’s ass on the enjoyment front. Highly recommended.

  46. Magic Travel Tanya May 31, 2012 at 10:05 PM #

    I have to admit that seeing Angkor Wat and other temples was very underwhelming. I don’t know if it was because I was so hot, or that there were so many people around me all the time, but it really wan’t that great. Mind you, I am still in Siem Reap, and I do enjoy hearing people say they loved visiting AW and that the 3 day pass wasn’t enough. For me, 3 hours was enough. Perhaps I am just templed out. I did get nice photos though. And I have now been to Angkor Wat. Others haven’t.

  47. Eric - EUdestinations June 6, 2012 at 9:27 PM #

    My biggest travel disappointment was either the US virgin islands (in particular St Thomas) or Miami and South Beach. Both places are far dirtier than you might think just from looking at pictures and extremely expensive. If you’re looking for a warm vacation, look at going abroad. Places like the Greek islands are awfully cheap right now.

  48. kerri August 3, 2012 at 7:15 PM #

    what a bummer, but maybe it’s true that some things really were better in the 30’s!

  49. J. October 5, 2012 at 11:33 PM #

    My biggest travel disappointment was by far Istanbul, where I studied abroad for seven weeks. It didn’t match my experience studying abroad in Prague, which I fell in love with. Also, it was extremely hot, to the point where I didn’t even want to go outside because of it. But even so, I was just not impressed. It doesn’t help that I was involved with someone who, by the end of my trip, turned out to be controlling, jealous, and verbally abusive. Ugh. I will NEVER go back to Istanbul. I love Goreme though, and that will remain a happy part of my trip. But I still regret deciding to spend the summer in Istanbul. Wish I went to italy instead, or not at all of course.

  50. erwin October 16, 2012 at 7:13 AM #

    My travel disappointment when i went to Bali in high season, which i can’t find any hotel room near the beach, so i should stay in hotel which very far away from the beach..

  51. Al Williams November 23, 2012 at 9:50 AM #

    being let down by my friend I was supposed to meet in Brazil for Xmas!

  52. Shane Todd December 19, 2012 at 5:47 AM #

    Marmaris, Turkey was a let down for me. Also the whole of Vietnam. People talk it up but honestly the people were rude and always trying to rip a westerner off. Couldn’t wait to leave the country!!

  53. Liz May 14, 2013 at 3:24 AM #

    I’m going to Vancouver for a see in 3 weeks and not glad to hear it was a disappointment for some. But perhaps I may enjoy it due to now lowered expectations!

    I didn’t like Paris the first time I visited. Boston, Montreal & Quebec City was not that interesting for me either.

    Enjoyment of a place depends a lot on one’s mood and expectations at the time.

  54. Ria Dancel July 17, 2013 at 6:42 AM #

    I have never had any disappointment when in travel so far. But I guess I was once challenged by a sudden budget short when I lost my purse (with my money and credit cards in it) when I went to Baguio City here in the Philippines. Such was a terrible experience. Thank God for wire transfer, my husband sent me money for my bus ride back home 😉

  55. Travel Blog of Pa Ul July 18, 2013 at 8:27 AM #

    As far as a I can remember it was last year when I traveled a local beach here in my country. My disappointment is that when we arrived at that beach the weather changed from sunny to a rainy. This started at 11 am till 3 pm so we never had fun in the sun but out in the rain.

  56. Alex Cardo September 24, 2013 at 1:57 PM #

    My biggest travel disappointment was when I’ve visited Macedonia for a first time. It was a very bad weather in the Skopje. I waited a full year for this trip to Macedonia -> Albania and I had very good weather in my country. So, once I did my first step on Skopje street I was disappointed very much, so the first thing which I did it was to go into the nearest bar to drink 🙂

  57. Rob February 19, 2014 at 1:26 AM #

    Honestly – Probably the full-moon party and Koh Phangan in Thailand.. We had such high expectations, but it was just a bunch of shit-face kids all acting like idiots. 🙁

  58. location de voiture February 10, 2015 at 6:44 AM #

    i like madrid too, but there but i have one idea for agadir beach, ,,, some one agree with me

  59. Minh Nguyen March 9, 2015 at 10:03 AM #

    My biggest travel disappointment is Osaka. This city is full of fun actually with lots of good food and fantastic activities. However, at that time, I travelled in a group, with some people and we didn’t have a good plan. I wanted to make a plan, or at least places for visiting but the others just didn’t want. we just booked a flight and went together. we spent a lot of money on transportation which should be saved if we had prepared well. Everyone seemed very sleepy on the move. So heart – breaking.

  60. AnnaKay June 20, 2015 at 9:35 PM #

    My biggest disappointment was Los Angeles/Hollywood. There is no glamour – no nothing. Just a dirty city and an endless stream of homeless. The worst is the ‘walk of fame’. The street is just full of homeless, some of them even sleeping ON the stars. The worst place I ever visited.

    • Joselyn May 20, 2016 at 4:55 PM #

      I lived in Los Angeles for half a decade. One of those years I lived in a neighborhood adjacent to Hollywood so I’d be in and out of Hollywood frequently for various reason (catching the red line, going to home depot, ect). I used to roll around laughing when I’d overhear a tourist complaining about all the homeless in Hollywood or that there isn’t as much glamour as they expected. They’re absolutely correct. No actor or actress would hang out there. Hollywood is a dump. I love, love, LOVE, Los Angeles, but you’ve got to decide why you’re going and pick the appropriate neighborhood. Is it for beautiful beaches? Go to Malibu. Is it for glamour and shopping? Head out to Beverly Hills. Is it for wacky fun along the beach? Get out to Venice. Hiking? Griffith Park or Runyon Canyon Asian food? Head out to the San Gabriel Valley and so on …

  61. Jason June 1, 2016 at 7:16 AM #

    I should not say this the worse but I was disappointed with India when I visited it the last time. I don’t know whether it was my high expectations or the strike there, my visit was not very fruitful. I stayed more than the expected date and budget went more than I had prepared for. But am planning to visit there once again for better experience.

  62. Noelle December 13, 2016 at 5:14 AM #

    I’ve been to Paris three times and honestly the last time I went I was ready to never go again. The city is beautiful but I feel like its so overrun with tourists that nothing is authentically French. They are also huge a**holes to you when they hear you speak English, despite that I can speak enough French to get around on it. I also have found the service to be less than desirable. And to boot, I had to deal with two bomb threats while there.
    I really can’t think of many places I’ve traveled where I am polite, trying to spend money, and learn about their culture and am treated rudely.

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