Don't believe the hype: The places I just don't get

Waikiki Beach, Hawaii.
Waikiki Beach, Hawaii. Photo: AFP

It happens to the best of us – it's a taste thing. You can't like every single city in the world. Sometimes you arrive somewhere that's been so hyped up, that's been raved about by your friends, lauded by guidebooks and papers, pasted all over social media… and you don't get it.

It just doesn't have the same appeal. You don't get the fascination. You don't get what everyone's so excited about. It doesn't do it for you.

Sometimes, destinations can't match the hype. These are some of the places that just didn't do it for me.

Prague

I know, I know, you're meant to love it. And I do like Prague. It's beautiful, and the Old Town is stunning to walk around. But the way people talk about Prague I expected it to be so much better than anywhere else in Europe. And for me, it's not.

Bali

On this one there are probably plenty of people who agree. So many millions of Australian tourists visit Bali each year, so you expect that something pretty amazing would be going on here. But… I don't get it. Is it that much better than any other island in South-East Asia? Why do so many people go?

Chiang Mai

I'd heard plenty of great things about this northern Thai city, a remote outpost with culture and history to burn. But I don't know – maybe I was just there when the heat was a little too cloying, or maybe I didn't go to the right places, but it didn't quite seem worthy of all the praise to me.

Istanbul

There are things I love about Istanbul: the bazaars, the Blue Mosque, the Hagia Sophia, the hamams, and all that water that surrounds the city. But I went there with expectations that were far too high. I'd been told Istanbul was probably the greatest tourist destination in the world, that I'd love it like I'd never loved another place. But there were too many carpet salesmen around for that. And I stayed in the wrong area.

Kuala Lumpur

If you're into shopping, KL is great. But then so are Singapore and Bangkok. If you're into food, KL is great. But, ah, so are Singapore and Bangkok. And if you're into fancy hotels or authentic cultural sights, the same thing can be said. For me, Kuala Lumpur just lacks a little something in comparison to its neighbouring cities.

Florence

If I had the choice of going to Florence, or, say, Canberra, obviously I'd be more than happy to visit the Tuscan capital. And if I had the choice between wandering art galleries in, say, Newcastle or doing the same thing in Florence, I'd be on the first plane. But when you compare Florence with so many other cities even in Italy, I don't really get the fascination. 

Jaipur

I've had plenty of people tell me how much they love this bustling Rajasthani city, but it's never really done it for me. It's probably got a lot to do with my experiences at the time I visited – almost being swindled into a jewellery smuggling racket; being constantly hassled by, well, everyone; and befriending some people I really shouldn't have befriended – but Jaipur will always go down as a place I don't get. Jaisalmer on the other hand: awesome. 

Waikiki

I. Don't. Get it. I don't get why you'd travel all the way to Hawaii and miss out on all of the amazing islands and towns this place has to offer in favour of the staid, Disney-fied version of a beach resort that is Waikiki. It's tourist central, with crowded beaches, expensive bars and fairly average restaurants. Even the rest of Honolulu is better. I don't get it.

Where have you been that's made you think to yourself, "I don't get it"?

Email: b.groundwater@fairfaxmedia.com.au

Instagram: instagram.com/bengroundwater

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