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Ever think twice about returning because it has gotten too popular?

Ever think twice about returning because it has gotten too popular?

Old May 4th, 2010, 10:51 AM
  #1  
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Ever think twice about returning because it has gotten too popular?

This is probably a silly question, but one on my mind. I posted yesterday about my dilemma in returning to a favorite location for vacation versus choosing a new one. For some reason Croatia came up twice in that post, although it wasn't the location I was referring to when wanting to go back to a destination I love, and it spurred quite a long conversation between my husband and I.

We went to Croatia in November of 06, along with Slovenia, Montenegro and Bosnia. Back then it rarely made mention on Fodors, and the only reason I considered it was in reading one of the rare trip reports to the area and then seeing the pictures. Family and friends didn't even know where Croatia was, and when they heard Bosnia it kind of freaked them out, I guess because they only knew of it from the Bosnian War. It felt almost exotic in a way. Anyways, we fell in love with it. Seeing Dubrovnik for the first time made my heart race; it truly was one of those moments that I cherish when I travel.

I would absolutely love to go back and consider it often. But...it seems like it has gotten so much more popular that I'm worried that it will feel different somehow. Now I'm not really complaining about the popularity, as it's popular for a reason. It's beautiful, has interesting history, the people are friendly and, at least when we were there, cheaper than western Europe. I often recommend it to friends and here on Fodors. And it was very popular with Europeans and other nationalities when we went, just not as popular with Americans, so it wasn't really undiscovered by any means. But when it comes to planning my own vacation back, I'm hesitant. It was one of our favorite vacations, and I guess I am worried that in its popularity some of that charm we discovered on our first trip would be gone and we would end up dissapointed in a way, perhaps constantly comparing it to our first trip.

I'm curious as to whether anyone else feels this way about a special place that perhaps they feel has become too "discovered" or touristy? Or perhaps it's just my fear that maybe the next trip won't live up to the expectations that the last one created and I'm using the popularity as an excuse.

Tracy
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Old May 4th, 2010, 11:01 AM
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I've been to Croatia three times, and while I would not be too eager to spend much time in Dubrovnik again, particularly when the cruise ships arrive, returning to a country just makes me go beyond where I visited before. There is so much more to Croatia than the understandably popular Venetian towns of southern Dalmatia. For example, I'd love to explore the castles north of Zagreb or any of the interior wilderness areas. I've been to some of the less visited islands and they are just stellar in terms of natural beauty.
If one does a modicum of research (and I know you do!) and thinks about their travel "philosophy" and not "doing" a place, then it is so easy to avoid crowds. I am just very realistic about my ability to trod a new path. It's all been done!
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Old May 4th, 2010, 11:05 AM
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yorkshire, you are right. I fell in love with Dubrovnik (although I did get a taste of the crowds when a cruise ship docked one afternoon..yikes!) but we also loved the interior, or what we saw of it. We drove from Zagreb to the Hungary border, stopping in Varazdin which we loved. I think that if I went back to Croatia I would probably search out the less-touristy areas. I remember awhile back someone mentioned staying on the island of Pag and I swore to myself that if I get back to Croatia I'll base myself there for a few days.

Tracy
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Old May 4th, 2010, 11:13 AM
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A standard theme of my parents when talking about any seaside resort they'd visited before. "Of course, it's all gone downhill now everyone's going thers. Not unspoilt as it used to be". Not so true of major cities, obviously, but you've only to look at what happened to the Spanish Costas, or St Tropez, to see what can happen to smaller, quieter places.
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Old May 4th, 2010, 11:23 AM
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Given that we seem to get two or three posts a day asking how to get to Positano from Rome or Naples, I think I might not recognize the old joint. It's been over twenty years since I was back, anyway.
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Old May 4th, 2010, 11:31 AM
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There have been so many changes in Europe in the last 25 years. The internet makes tourism easy and many more people are doing independent travel because of this. Guide books are more sophisticated and offer more information.

I was recently in Prague and was amazed at how it has changed in the 15 years since I was first there. Old Town Square, which used to be sleepy most of the time is teeming with tourists, awful souvenir shops, and tons of cafes and restaurants and the little tourist hop on hop off train is no longer there. There are tons of tour groups around the castle area and lots of traffic and construction all over Prague. Lots of changes. When I saw what has happened I thought I would never go back but then I thought about the out of the way places in Prague where there were few people - the Mucha Museum, the Municipal House, the Loreto church. All were wonderful and all had few visitors.

I think it's possible to avoid the crowds, even in very popular places, and enjoy old favorites with a new perspective.

I'm glad I was able to see some of Europe years ago w/o the crowds but today I'm seeing things I never knew about before so much information was available.
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Old May 4th, 2010, 11:36 AM
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Ha--Pag was a place I did not love, but I was not there long enough to give it a chance really.
I have also always had the fortune to travel in shoulder season, and I realize not everyone can do that.
There are certainly some places that have been "ruined," but that just makes us work harder.
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Old May 4th, 2010, 12:06 PM
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Tracy,
Perhaps this another reason to go somewhere new?

I guess even when you repeat a trip to a place you love there is always the risk it has changed or your experience may well be different this time.
There are no guarantees in life it seems!

To avoid disappointment I have a few golden rules

1. I always try to avoid peak season when I travel as I hate crowds.

2. Whenever I return to a place I include something new (different accommodation or sometimes an additional destination or new exhibition/museum or a different beach or excursion, whatever)

3. I try not to compare!

Do what works for you
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Old May 4th, 2010, 12:37 PM
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yorkshire, funny you didn't care for Pag! It's been quite awhile since I read about it (well before we took our first trip) so perhaps a bit more research on Pag would be in order if I were to go back.

sassy_cat, we too always travel during off-peak season because I too hate crowds. For me crowds can be a deal-breaker so we usually travel either in the winter or early Spring. I'm glad I'm not alone! I have no desire whatsoever to visit anywhere in Europe in the summer. We were in Ephasus last February and, with the exception of a few small German tour groups, the place was virtually dead. I've seen pictures of it in peak summer months and it looks like one big crowd of people. Of course we had to deal with a bit of rain and cold weather, but well worth it in my opinion.

adrienne, I suppose you are right. The internet is a beautiful thing, and more people are traveling these days because they can see and do more research so it is becoming increasingly more difficult to seek out those "less traveled" locations. Another reason to travel during off-peak season...an area can feel "less traveled" when there are few tourists.
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Old May 4th, 2010, 12:47 PM
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Outrageous what Spain has done to it's coastline in the chase to the northern European sunseekers.

We spent our honeymoon in Barbate, Costa De La Luz, which was 14 years ago. On a 15 mile beach there were two hotels - Hotel Antonio which will never leave my thoughts. the best fish around and on the beach. Family run and the warmest welcome. The other hotel was a shell 10 miles down the beach which had never been finished.

Ever evening, troups of huge Andalucian horse trained in the surf. Each morning they trained bulls for fighting on the beach. Fresh tuna came into Barbate each afternoon. The burger bars simply bought a fish, chopped it up and served it fried in butter on a plastic plate. Best meal I have ever had!
Best week of my life.

We returned 3 years ago and forgive my language but it was a S***hole. The whole beach was covered for miles with half empty apartment block thrown up quickly and empty due to the downturned.

We literally cried and left.

I have visited southern Europe for 41 years (first time 2 months old). Only Corfu matches in the insane development stakes.

If you want sleepness where the past 50 years have past by...

Go to the Ionian - Ithaca is still in the 50s.
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Old May 4th, 2010, 01:04 PM
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Gee Tracy, how could I go back to Croatia, by your yardstick? I loved my visits there in 1971, '72 and '73. Of course, it wasn't "Croatia" then but Yugoslavia.

PS: Funny to reflect, 20-odd years after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the USSR, what a great stabilizing force Communism once was, in world affairs.

Marshal Tito kept Yugoslavia out of the Warsaw Pact but he, like all his fellow citizens, knew the Soviets would march in in a second, if there were civil unrest in Yugoslavia.

When I visited there, all was calm and order and amity -- even if old religious, linguistic and cultural tensions seethed below the surface.

USSR collapsed and Yugoslavia exploded.

PPS: Think too how different things were in Africa, when 2 superpowers were bidding for countries' allegiance w/ foreign aid -- unlike the present, when the whole continent has largely been written off (except the Chinese, who have moved right in!!)

Everything about the Soviets was ghastly but I sometimes miss the old buggers.
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Old May 4th, 2010, 01:06 PM
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There are about 4 destinations that I can think of that I've been travelling to repeatedly for the past 25 years since first visiting them either as a child or young adult, and even though I hear/know of immense spikes in their popularity, I have not felt the need to stop going there for that reason - though I know what you mean.
I think the main reason for this is because once I get there, I surrender myself to the enjoyment of being surrounded by and doing all the things that make the place special for me, regardless of whomever or how many else may be there too. And as long as I am able to get that satisfaction from each destination, I'll keep going.

Budapest is one example; I discovered this wonderful city in 2004 (oddly enough when I had a layover there on my first visit to Dubrovnik, Croatia and Bosnia - loved them) and I've been back to BUD 4 times in the last 6 years. It is highly touted in all the forums, but when I'm there I find all the things I need and love to have a great time, and I do.

A small Caribbean island is another example where I've been travelling to since graduation in 1985 (more than 14 trips there since) when it was rarely heard of and beautifully unspoilt. In the past 15 years, hoards of package deals and discount carriers loaded with chatty tourists all looking for all inclusive deals and 'just like at home' experiences have ruined the beauty of how I remember the island for the most part. But I still go, for once I'm there, I head off to the hills and off the beaten track areas and beaches that I know well now, where nary a tourist may be expected to be seen, and where I can I enjoy all the reasons that make the place special to me.

And as for change, I do enjoy seeing how some aspects of a destination have changed from how I remember them over the years past; especially when the changes are for the better.

Good question.
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Old May 4th, 2010, 01:13 PM
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When we were in on the coast of Croatia in 2006, we met an older French man who told us that it reminded him of the French Riviera in 1950. He told us to look at the Croatian coast and remember it as he feared it wouldn't be the same for long. I hope he woasn't right but I agree taht you hear more and more about it,very understandable.
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Old May 4th, 2010, 01:37 PM
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Hi
I'ts interesting that Croatia is mentioned because that is the place that I often think of returning to visit. We were there in 2003. We stayed mostly in Istria in the towns of Porec and Rovinj. Most of the hotels were half board and full of Eastern Europeans, mostly Poland and Russia. We heard very little English spoken and it was usually Canadian. Had a great time expecially in Rovinj, where I've often thought of returning. It was so beautiful that I could live there.

Before the autoroute was completed you had to travel a long way on 2 lane roafs when we drove over to get to Trogir. It was then we saw the destruction of war. bombed out houses and other sights. It took a long time to Trogir and when we got there we didn't like it. It was very crowded with tourists, noisy. Stayed a day in another hotel with Russian tourists and drove back again. Finished up staying in Rovinj again. I can still see the great seafood restaurants, it happened to be mussel season. Back at the hotel mussels were served along with food with truffles which is local to the area. I could go back to Rovinj again.

Another place I think about is Budapest. We've been there several times and we've watched it change so much for the better. The first time was about 2 yrs after independence and the blackmarketeers looking for dollars were all over.
The city had just awakened and the old commie lifestyle was seen in the clothing, food and hotels. Came back a couple of more times and really have seen the vity change. Once we even saw a wedding in the Synogogue My wifes father came from Hungry and she wanted to visit it. It's another city I could live in as I am comfortable in central europe, more so than the west.
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Old May 4th, 2010, 01:46 PM
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For me, Las Vegas pops into my mind. I spent two weeks in Las Vegas in 1986 and enjoyed it very much. Then we returned in 2007 and it was completely different. Most of the beautiful hotels did not exist anymore, instead cheap mass tourism has ruined the place. That we met Paris Hilton in the lobby of the Wynn and that Mr. Wynn in person shook hands with us did not help.
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Old May 4th, 2010, 02:45 PM
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I've gone to Paris at least once every 20 or more years and I wil go again as often as my old body willlet me!
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Old May 4th, 2010, 03:11 PM
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markrosy - in 1960 I spent a lovely week in the tiny,
workaday village of Torremolinos. Need I say more?
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Old May 4th, 2010, 03:15 PM
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I've been traveling to the Dordogne several times a year now for 18+ years, and while I've seen a huge influx of tourists and many, many changes over that time, there has never been a diminution in the moment of unspeakable joy when I drive my rental car out of Perigueux and onto the road to Le Bugue. It nearly knocks the breath out of me...every single time.
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Old May 4th, 2010, 03:23 PM
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Nobody goes there anymore, it is too crowded...

Personally, I think the places that are truly worthwhile manage to keep their charm, even if crowded. The problem with "undiscovered" places, is that many of them are undiscovered for a reason.

One thing that I find telling is that many of the comments here are about beach and seaside resorts. If ever there was a type of destination that ages poorly, it is the beach resort. Most have little of real interest other than the beach, so once that becomes too downmarket or crowded the destinations simply have nothing much to offer. This, of course, is made more apparent when you travel halfway around the world to get to that beach and you realize it is just like any beach anywhere else.
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Old May 4th, 2010, 03:39 PM
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One place whose mood I can never recapture is Miami Beach.

In the early '80s, it appeared I was the only person who wanted to visit the Deco hotels.

South Beach was given over to low-cost "pullmanette" apartments and cheap residential hotels, patronized exclusively by Cuban immigrants and lower-middle class Jewish retirees.

There was NO South Beach scene. In fact, we once had to drive from South Beach nearly to Fort Lauderdale, to find an open restaurant on a Sunday evening.

Another place I do not plan to revisit: Key West.

In the early 80s it was hip, small-scale, with great restaurants and clubs and some really nice guesthouses. I think it's mostly chain hotels now and quite inordinately expensive -- which it really wasn't even at its zenith, in the '80s.
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