On this blog, I’ve probably used the phrases “prettiest place ever”, “the most beautiful place I’ve ever been” and “my new favourite city” a kajillion times. Evidently, this cannot be true of every place I describe. I fall in love with so many cities and destinations that I can’t help but to use a ridiculous amount of hyperbole. However, there are some places that just fall flat. It’s always disappointing when you arrive somewhere using some of your valuable trip time, hoping to fall in love, and you just feel so meh. Especially when it’s a place that literally everybody has promised you’ll adore, it’s really frustrating to walk around a city you’ve paid money to visit and wonder why you’re actually there.
Three cities stand out in my mind as places that really disappointed me, but for no real reason. In every case there’s something I could have done differently to make the trip better (or just different), and here’s the breakdown on places I just didn’t like:
Now, Norway overall? I LOVED. It rocketed its way to my ‘list of favourite countries’ immediately after I hiked to Pulpit Rock. Oslo, though…the only word that comes to mind is “livable”. Which, yes, is a great word, but not really what you’re looking for in a two day visit to a city. I stayed in a lovely Airbnb in a cool and kind of gritty part of town – as gritty as Oslo can be – with a family that had the cutest daughters ever. I would have loved to live in that apartment. I visited Frogner Park, a place that I would have loved to visit for a post-work evening stroll. I ate at local Indian joints (because they were the only thing I could afford) that I could see becoming my go-to dinner when I’m too lazy to cook.
Which is all great. But I just never felt that spark I feel in cities like Prague, Istanbul, Vienna….the whole time, all I could think was meh. The opera house was cool, and I really did enjoy the Fram and Kon-tiki Museums on the Bygdøy Peninsula. But I went on a walking tour that was the worst I’ve ever taken, I didn’t totally fall in love with the architecture, and Norwegian food is not this vegetarian’s cup of tea.
So overall, I think back to a few great moments in my time here, but also a lot of moments where I was just trying to motivate myself to enjoy the city, but couldn’t figure out how. I think I’d like living here (so much weekend trip potential and so many beautiful people to meet), but if you’re planning a trip to Norway, I wouldn’t allot much (or any) time to Oslo.
One of my most prevalent memories of Venice is waking up in my tent about 30 minutes outside of town, literally covered in sweat and thinking I might die of suffocation. Another is the great morning me and my university friend, Brooke, spent basking in the beautiful pool at our accommodation. You will note that neither of these have anything to do with Venice specifically.
The combination of the insane heat, the commute from the only accommodation we could afford, and the unbelievable amount of tourists wandering the canals meant we spent more time in the pool than we probably should have – literally the only place we could forget about the heat for a moment. When I tell other people how I felt about Venice, what I say is that ‘it felt built for tourists’. I know it’s not, obviously, and the history of the Venetian City-State is absolutely fascinating, but it’s really hard to understand that when you’re getting whacked in the head with umbrella and selfie sticks everywhere you turn.
Now, I have loved places that are packed with tourists, even in Italy – Rome and Florence come to mind. But for some reason, Venice I just couldn’t handle.
I have decided I must go back to Venice and right the wrong of my first trip. It will 100% be in the winter, when tourist numbers are WAY lower. Despite the rainy, overcast weather, I think Venice might be kind of magical in the gloom. And I’d stay in the city, even if I had to go over budget. Any recommendations?
This may be the one that is met with the most shock: when I tell people I didn’t like Barcelona, they are appalled. SO AM I. This one, I just can’t figure out. Why didn’t I like this city? I mean look at these pictures. It’s beautiful!
Maybe I didn’t spend enough time here. It was only two days, and that was broken up by a conference up the coast, but I’ve fallen in love with plenty of places in less time than that.
Maybe it was the number of other tourists? But none of my memories jump out at me as being way too crowded…
Maybe I didn’t do the right things! I did really enjoy Parc Guell, but we literally walked to the Sagrada Familia just because we felt like we should look at it, with no actual interest in the church. (Sacrilegious in so many ways, I know). I probably should have experienced the famous nightlife, but I was too hungover….thanks to that aforementioned conference up the coast.If anyone can help me understand why I didn’t like Barcelona, and what I should do next time…please leave a comment! I loved other parts of Spain and I definitely want to go back and give Barcelona another chance.