European Over/Under


Nov 11th, 2010, 05:40 AM
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European Over/Under

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.


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.


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.
lmhornet is offline  
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Nov 11th, 2010, 05:55 AM
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"After you’ve seen cathedrals in Florence, Toledo, Sevilla, etc"

I have and prefer St Pauls which isn't some overpainted tart of a cathedral. Then again I prefer Durham Cathedral to every other cathedral I've ever seen. The only possible exception to that is the Mezquita Catedral de Córdoba which is gobsmacking UNTIL you find the tart in the heart of it.

And given the Pantheon in Paris was built 1500 years after the far superior one in Rome I fail to see why you want to compare the two. I suppose you were unimpressed by Stonehenge because they hadn't put the roof on.

As for the Sistine Chapel - last time I looked it had quite a lot of wall relief extending down several layers so it isn't just a ceiling.
alanRow is offline  
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Nov 11th, 2010, 06:14 AM
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To each his own, but I will say I think I am rather glad that we are not traveling companions. I've never been to Madrid, but I like Dublin, and Ireland in general. I don't even have much issue with the food. I like Bath, too. I don't think I'd have any major issues with anything on your overrated list (or your underrated list, for that matter), although my father claims that I did not care for the Sistine Chapel much when I was three.

Generally, any time I go to Europe, I am delighted and grateful that it is possible for me to do this at all. I don't spend a great deal of my time being overly critical. Of course, some people care for some things more than others, and I do like to do a little research so that my time, money, and energy are expended on things that I will be likely to enjoy, but still, I'm not going to complain about a day that I spent traveling rather than stuffing women into wedding gowns.
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Nov 11th, 2010, 06:22 AM
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Well, you certainly have opinions (no bad thing).

Bath is probably one of my favourite places in the UK, lvely architecture, not overly spoilt by modern development.

Lucca - Nothing to see - I agree if comparing to Florence or Pisa, but as a town with atmsosphere, I love it. Had I the money, I could quite easily live in either of the above.

Pisa - I agree completely, and cannot understand that people can't see past the "tacky" souveniers. I love Pisa cathederal, and would put it alongside Siena and Monreale as my favourites in Italy.
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Nov 11th, 2010, 06:28 AM
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You guys are so funny. These threads are very entertaining (tart of a cathedral- LOL I'm going to steal that!)...even when I disagree and I do disagree with most of the OP, especially about the Pantheon in Rome. Pretty impressive. I don't know whether it was a past life thing or possibly the HBO series Rome but I literally almost cried when I saw it. But then I cry for the Superbowl commercials and €30 Bellinis, too.

Also, Imhornet, should you return to Italy try to visit the picturesque southern coastal town of Kinsale and you'll never complain about Irish food again. It's known for it's cuisine and many of Europe's most celebrated chef's summer here. You can't find a bad meal.
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Nov 11th, 2010, 06:30 AM
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I meant Ireland, not Italy when speaking of Kinsale...sorry!
quinnsmom is offline  
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Nov 11th, 2010, 06:46 AM
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Is there an edit feature on this forum I am missing here? It's mortifying to have to witness one's own posessifying a plural and such.
quinnsmom is offline  
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Nov 11th, 2010, 06:57 AM
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And the hornet stings again.

If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I do not want to see imhornet's eye and even less what may be behind that eye.

To the newer Fodorites:

imhornet is a troll who habitually writes complete nonsense. Ignore it.
Echnaton is offline  
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Nov 11th, 2010, 07:45 AM
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quinssmom, yes, there is an edit feature, it is called "preview" below in the blue box. One cannot edit their post after posting it, that would be rather unusual (and I can see how someone could edit out something and claim they never said it, if someone disagreed). I know a few boards allow post-publication edits, and it can result in problems. If you want to edit, just do it before the final posting, that's all, as editing is usually before publication, after all.

As for the OP, I found reading these opinions interesting and certainly not boring, even if I don't agree with a few (I do agree with others, like the Marais). But I liked Madrid. I don't think it's the most boring capital, I would bet Frankfurt, Monaco, Bern, Brussels or Warsaw could be in that poll. I do like the Pantheon in Paris, but wouldn't say it's that outstanding for most people (most of whom have little knowledge or interest in historical French figures).

I don't agree that these opinions are nonsense, at all, I can appreciate some of the thoughts, even if I don't agree with them. I don't think people should declare something they don't agree with as nonsense nor tell others what to ignore or not.
Christina is online now  
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Nov 11th, 2010, 07:49 AM
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Echnaton....right on!! When I saw his very appropo name I immediately came here fuly expecting to see the ultra-contrarian view of the world..and here it is...goodbye!
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Nov 11th, 2010, 08:53 AM
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I agree that the Cluny in Paris is under-rated and I'm very happy it is.

Same for the Rustem Pasa Mosque. While the Blue Mosque was completely over crowded, there was no one in the Rustem Pasa nor in the other two small mosques in that same area. It was delightful to view them.

While in the Czech Republic earlier this year I couldn't quite understand the hubbub over the ossuary in Kutna Hora while no one mentions the Church of the Assumption of Our Lady around the corner whose interior is bathed in warm yellow and whose beauty is found in its architectural simplicity.
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Nov 11th, 2010, 11:09 AM
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Madrid has no history and is boring?!?!? Mediocre food and wine?!?!? Are you insane (obvious answer is "yes")?? Perhaps this unknown "Maidrid", as you call it, is quite different.
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Nov 11th, 2010, 12:17 PM
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This is your opinion, why don´t you tell us what you like about places and what do you expect?
All of the places you mention have a some interesting part, but not for everyone.
adammacia is offline  
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Nov 11th, 2010, 12:45 PM
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Believe it or not, I find his broad generalizations not all that far off mark.
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Nov 11th, 2010, 12:57 PM
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Champs Elysee
Blarney Stone
Buckingham Changing of the Guard


Michel_Paris is offline  
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Nov 12th, 2010, 06:25 AM
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Hi Michel: Agree.

The Buckingham Changing of the Guard became a test of my patience. Too many people, not able to see enough and it was quite drawn out.

Champs Elysee: Absolutely nothing charming about it accept for the Arc at the end of the boulevard.
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Nov 12th, 2010, 07:32 AM
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I am hoping to see some some more places that are underrated, that people really enjoyed. Here are two of ours. The Dutch Resistance Museum in Amsterdam and the Military Technology Museum in Koblenz. If you are interested in WW II or military history, both museums are worth the effort to go see. My husband is a veteran and a ham radio operator, so we spent most of our time on the communications floor of the military museum. We got there late, they actually stayed open an hour later, to let us see everything we wanted to see. Being born in the mid 1940's, my husband and I consider WW II as part of our childhood rather than history. We spent a lot of time in the Dutch Resistance Museum, it was very well put together and had a lot of information, some on communication, a big interest for my husband.
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Nov 12th, 2010, 08:39 AM
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...suppose you were unimpressed by Stonehenge because they hadn't put the roof on...

And what possessed them to build it so far from the airport?

I was very interested to see that they have a changing of the guard in Buckingham.
There's no mention of it on their website
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Nov 12th, 2010, 09:09 AM
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- Verona and it's amazing small church with the inlaid woodwork. It's a insider's tip and I can't remember the name of the church. It's across the river though. Can anyone help me?
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Nov 12th, 2010, 09:11 AM
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"I was very interested to see that they have a changing of the guard in Buckingham.
There's no mention of it on their website"

Josser, you beat me to it.
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