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European Over/Under

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Overrated And Underrated Europe.

Since most threads give exactly same Pollyanna opinions (everything was wonderful!!, wonderful!, wonderful!!) that follow the party line, I thought that it would be good to have a contrarian thread for people who don’t leave their critical faculties at home when they travel. One good format is a thread that gives opinions on the most overrated and underrated sites in Europe. Here’s a good starter. Feel free to add.

Overrated.

Maidrid (Spain). The most boring capital this side of Dublin. Very little history. No natural beauty. Mediocre food and wine. A bunch of boring art museums is the only draw, it you are into that sort of thing. I’m not.

Bath (UK). A dull tourist trap of a little town.

Sistine Chapel (Rome, Italy). The reality just doesn’t match the hype Well, first, you can hardly see much because it a ceiling. Second, it simply doesn’t impress after seeing all the other artwork on the way in. Give me Raphael anytime over the big M.

Luca (Italy). It’s like suburban Florence with a wall. Big deal. Nothing to see at all.

Ireland. Most towns and cities in Ireland simply nothing of any interest. There is some nice scenery on the west coast, but you have spend much of time driving on the worst, nerve-racking roads in Europe to get there. Food blah. Not worth the trouble.

Tower of London (London, UK). Not that is was bad or anything, it just doesn’t have enough pop to merit all the attention it gets. The Beefeater guides are the only fun part.

St Paul’s (London, UK.) What is the big deal? Sure it’s tall. But it’s also barren and dull. After you’ve seen cathedrals in Florence, Toledo, Sevilla, etc, this place isn’t even worth a subway ride.

The Marais (Paris, France.) There is nothing there of even the most remote interest. The “Jewish area” is one block of mostly felafel shops. Place des Vosage should be renamed Place des Boring.

White Towns (Spain.) You waste a lot of time driving up curvy roads to get nowhere and to see nothing. BTW: Don’t consider Arcos or Ronda as white towns.

Underrated.

Pantheon (Paris, France). A magnificent building which deserves much more fame and attention than it usually get in guidebooks. It blows away its more famous cousin in Rome.

Rustem Pasa Mosque (Istanbul, Turkey). It may be small, but it is certainly beautiful.

Ronda (Spain). A very comfortable small town with nice views and many excellent small museums.

Field of Miracles (Pisa, Italy). The Leaning Tower would be a great piece of architecture, even if it weren’t leaning. The cathedral is also a sight (far better than St. Pauls). Pisa It gets a lot of bad press (like Rick Steves) as being a tourist trap. It’s not. The tacky souvenir stands are tastefully segregated to a small area away from the buildings. (You want tacky, try Assisi. Every street is lined with shops selling St. Francis beer mugs and the like. The irony is apparently lost on them. Fortunately, Assisi is generally a very nice town despite this)

Cluny (Paris, France) A real human size museum where you get a real feel for a specific time and place. In an old Roman building to boot. I generally prefer these smaller, more specific museums to the massive everything famous places like the Louvre. Added bonus: you don’t spend all your time being pushed and jostled by the mobs. (Another good small museum is the whaling museum in Gloucester, Mass)

Royal Andalusian School Horse Show (Jerez, Spain). The town isn’t much great, but the horse show is great. The essence of Spain! Also, next door there is sherry tasting at Sandeman and nearby a clock museum.

Paradors (Spain.) I’ve only stayed at three different ones, so maybe I made fortunate choices, but they provided extraordinary old world charm and service in beautiful surroundings at an unbelievably cheap price for the experience.

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