I, like many others, love planning holidays and visiting destinations on my bucket list. Those are the places in the world that, for whatever reason, hold a special place in my heart and I get super pumped when the opportunity to finally go there presents itself. I research, plan and imagine being there, expectations rising high. Most of the time, it’s amazing, but there were few that left me feeling meh.
Prague, Czech Republic
Prague was definitely in the top five on my bucket list of destinations. Everything I have ever read and seen told me that Prague was unlike any other city. After all, not many places can claim to be known as the Paris of Eastern Europe. A city with an impressive Old Town Square and medieval astronomical clock, cobbled streets, striking architecture and abundance of beer, Prague seemed like my kind of place. It had all the elements I was looking for.
From the moment we arrived, we were faced with rudeness. From taxi drivers and shopkeepers to restaurant and hotel staff, the level of service was sub-par and unlike anything I have ever experienced. It felt like we were a great inconvenience and everyone wanted to rip us off.
I went to a store to buy a scarf and even though I was the only customer in the place with money in hand, the woman working there seemed like it was a hassle that I wanted to make a purchase. The horror!
Don’t be surprised by extra charges
There were a number of times when we were given one price just to be charged a totally different amount when the bill arrived. Even the medieval clock didn’t seem that fascinating and the beer was just ok. There were many people begging on the streets, which is not unusual in a large, touristy city, but here it made us very uncomfortable.
All in all, the experience wasn’t what we expected. Prague does have spectacular architecture and is definitely worth seeing at least once, but it is not a place I’m likely to return to. Been there, done that.
Located in the Marche Region of Italy, not too far from resort town of Rimini, Urbino is best known as the cradle of Italian Renaissance. During the 15th century, this was the home of Duke Federico da Montefeltro, a military man who was also an intellectual and a great patron of the arts. Under his almost four decades in power, the Ducal Palace became a place where many of the artists, painters, poets, thinkers, masters and musicians of the time discussed new and progressive ideas that would greatly influence Europe’s ideology in centuries to come.
As a history major, I learned about this place in one of my Italian Renaissance classes. I had an amazing professor who had the ability to make history come alive. So when it turned out that we were a short car drive away from Urbino, I knew that I had to go there. It seemed like I was destined to walk in the footsteps of these Renaissance Men and all their glory.
I arrived expecting an amazing collection of history that reflected Urbino’s golden age, but the reality was vastly different.
Long gone glory
The former Ducal Palace was an impressive structure nestled in a lovely surroundings. Inside, it was almost empty. We toured the palace and it became very clear that there wasn’t that much to see. For various reason, many of the furnishings and art made their way elsewhere, leaving behind stories of glory and greatness. It was quite disappointing.
In this case, it was my familiarity with the place that was a basis for my expectations. I wouldn’t have been as disappointed, if I knew nothing about Urbino and just happen to stumble upon it. It’s been about 13 years since my visit and I keep hoping that they were able to bring in more items to fill the palace since then. Would I go back there? Only if I was conveniently in the area.
Ahhh Barcelona. I had such high hopes for you.
Barcelona is home to the famous Sagrada Família church and many other architectural wonders by the modernist architect Antoni Gaudí. From what I’ve seen, it was all worth a quick look. We quickly discovered that to see any of the attractions, we had to buy tickets and usually way ahead of time. While you can purchase admission tickets to many European attractions ahead of time, you often have an option of buying them on location. Not in Barcelona. We had issues getting tickets online and had to wait for available times later in our trip. The Parc Güell was particularly disappointing at 9 Euros a person. Turns out they’ve only been charging admission for about three years. Great.
We found Barcelona very underwhelming. It was a nice city, but somehow did nothing for us. It’s hard to describe other than meh. Food, drinks and weather were great, which made up for the other disappointments.
Another place that I would probably not rush to get back to.
Expectations are just that
Have you ever been to a place that didn’t live up to your expectations? Let me know!