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Travel experiences that don't turn out to be as great as you hoped

Travel experiences that don't turn out to be as great as you hoped

Old Sep 3rd, 2023, 01:51 PM
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I can't wait to hear about your trip!
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Old Sep 6th, 2023, 06:40 AM
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Thanks! I'm really excited!
I have to wait to book a new hotel in Paris I've wanted to try - before the cruise.
Returning to my favorite hotel in Paris - after the cruise.
I spent Christmas in Paris several years ago. Can't wait to do it again!
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Old Sep 17th, 2023, 05:05 PM
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Originally Posted by starrs
Have any of those?

I'm about to book a Viking river cruise. Would love feedback/ experiences.

I've been pretty lucky so far. One 3 hour bus tour in Rome wasn't that great, but it got me around to see things I wanted to see without having to navigate the routes myself.
When I lived in Norway, I thought it would be a good idea to spontaneously take the train to another country for a weekend getaway. On one such weekend, I hopped aboard a train bound for Sweden. However, major delays held the train up for several hours, and by the time I arrived, everything was closed for the evening. With all shops and attractions shuttered, I was left to wander the empty streets. I did meet a few friendly locals to chat with, but ultimately decided the better plan was to board the next available train to my next intended destination, where I found things ran more smoothly. While the cross-country rail trip itself did not go quite as hoped, I was glad I took the chance to venture beyond Norway's borders, even if just for a brief scouting tour of Sweden that time.
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Old Dec 10th, 2023, 01:01 PM
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My past and recent trips to Germany and Athens.
OK, Dresden was beautiful but also had a sad vibe somewhat. And for a city of its size it felt completely devoid of life in the weekend. The local people were not very welcoming. Quite cold and standoffish really.

This year I gave Germanychance and final chance. This time it was more cities: Augsburg, Munich, Memmingen, Ulm, Neu-Ulm. Of those I liked Ulm and even Neu-Ulm the most. Nice cities even if NU is all Modernist. Lax vibes bit not as empty of life as Dresden surprisingly. But even there I didn't feel as nice as in Salzburg which I had an unplanned visit to on this trip. Such a nice vibe there! I couldn't even stand 20 minutes in Munich. I would return to Austria but not to Germany.

Maybe I'm spoiled by having lived or living in an extremely beautiful city like Prague or ones with better nature and friendlier locals like Sofia and Bratislava. I have no idea. And yet no excuse for the open hostility I experienced in the Munich subway.

For what is worth I also didn't find Vienna as nice as I expected but I'm willing to return and give it a try at least. And my encounters with locals in the subway were far more pleasant there than those in Munich. Sure Germany has other states that are probably like different countries but not going back any time soon when there are so many places I haven't been yet to in Europe alone: Scandinavia, Slovenia, Croatia, Italy, Malta, Romania, Portugal, Spain, Ireland, Scotland, Poland, Serbia, Montenegro, Albania, the Baltic States... And I felt Austria has more natural beauty. Some say Denmark is worse than Germany but it has Mons Klint and Copenhagen looks more beautiful to me than Berlin or Munich. Also quite a lot of architectural variety form city to city and town to town in a smaller footprint (Netherlamds for example feels more samey).

Athens was a real surprise. In some ways it lived up to or even exceeded my hype for it (the beaches, palms, the ancient ruins), on the other everything esle was a disappointment in terms of me expecting locals to be friendlier, more gregarious (they are but to those they know, like in every big city), in stores the customer service wasn't as good as expected. I expected a packed concrete metropolis but not as packed and as concrete. On Street View the modern city certainly feels and looks better than in real life.

I also was surprised to find out it feels less European than Sofia. It felt far more Oriental in a way I didn't like. I saw a cafe with mostly men, no women in sight for example. And Greeks are way more religious than us which can get annnoying. Little weird stuff like that. Next time I will only be by the beach and the palms and avoid the rest of Athens. Sofia is definitely closer in mentality, nature, weather to a place like Slovakia than Athens and most of Greece. I underestimated our similarities. Will be back to Greece and even Athens but only for tourism (the purpose of my trip was mostly to see if I could like it enough to relocate there).

Also the Netherlands: Amsterdam aside the rest of the counrry felt nice but too much copy and paste of the same architecture. Note: I lived there for a few years and despite me changing cities one time the of variery really gets to you if you're used to it. Let's not count smaller Slovenia offering more variety between towns and cities as it's in a more croassroads of cultures than the NL. But even Denmark seems to offer a more varied architecture and design between towns and cities. It looked like Dutch cities all use the same benches, pavement tiles, street signs, house designs etc.
Don't get me wrong, it's a lush green, beautiful country but apart from Amsterdam and maybe Utrecht and just the old towns most towns and cities are clones of each other.

Last edited by tanek; Dec 10th, 2023 at 01:05 PM.
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Old Dec 13th, 2023, 11:59 AM
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Glamping. For the cost, we could have rented a 5 room airbnb with a pool. But instead I was walking 1000feet to the only bathroom at 6am in the cold for a warm shower. An 'experience' but never again.
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Old Dec 15th, 2023, 02:37 AM
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I forgot to add: as much as our modern trains, planes and buses are so Hi-Tech, the seats are less comfortable than ever, making each trip I take sour. No wonder everyone is so cranky at airports, bus- and train statons these days.
I look at photos from bus travel in the USA in the 1940s and while they were cramped it seems they offered more legroom and were comfier than those one modern buses. And don't get me started on planes and trains. In the past they offered better food and seating. Paying 1st class for an European train is useless as it usually offers nothing over the 2nd except it's less cramped.

I expected that after Covid corridor coaches will make a comeback in trains as they're safer for not cathing diseases. Whenever I take a train in Central Europe I prefer the corridor coaches. Being separated from most of the noises and not having people pass right beside you is a real luxury. I dislike open coaches or cattle coaches as I call them. The tickets for even 2nd class are way too high to use an open coach and risk catching a virus, annoying noises etc.

Plane seats are more uncomfortable, of course, but the trip is at least shorter and in most cases cheaper than the train. Still, I prefer trains within Europe. I'd rather take more vacation days with a sleepover than having to be squished on a plane for two hours. It gives me more flexibility and freedom as I can shorten my trip if I suddenly decide I prefer an intermediate stop better.

I live very close to the airport, yet we don't have a good connection to it so I have to go with one subway to the city center, then take another right up to the airport. With all the waiting at the airport, all the security, rude personnel and completely packed planes, it causes me so much stress. Isn't travel supposed to be about enjoyment? Crowds at airports and security checks always ruin my trips.

A train or a bus is very slow but it can be very enjoyable as you can just show up 10-15 min before the train/bus departs. Also, the seats in trains are still better than on planes. I hate the endless waiting at airports. And with a train or bus if one gets delayed I can get an alternative usually.
I bet flying to Athens instead of driving there is why my recent trip was ruined. So next time I go abroad whithin Europe I'm driving, taking the train or even a bus. My last trip where everyone acred like angry cattle and where I waited for hours on the airport made me reconsider. 1000 km or less is too short of a distance to fly for me.

I have to say non-lowcost airlines no longer offer anything above the low-cost ones, at least ones like Austrian Airlines, Aegean, Bulgaria Air etc. Same planes, same cramped seats as low costers, you just get food for "free" on normal airlines. Nothign else extra. And the food is just as bad. Actually Bulgaria Air planes are in worse condition inside compared to Ryan and Wizz. The one to Prague had my table wanting to fall apart and the whole interior of the plane was dirty. It costed me 200 EUR to fly from Sofia to Athens and back with Aegean a month ago, while it costs less than 80 EUR to go to Zagreb and back with RyanAir. Roundtrips to Vienna are also cheaper than to Athens. My next trip will probably be the bus to Zagreb, spending a night there, then by trains to Slovenia, Austria, Slovakia and Hungary.
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Old Dec 15th, 2023, 08:46 AM
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Thank you for the perspective on EU travel since I've not done that before. Trains do sound like a great way to see things and get there fully rested.
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Old Feb 18th, 2024, 04:04 AM
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I wouldn't ask for or expect compensation in this type of circumstance. I have been on only one cruise but am currently researching river cruises in Europe. Invariably there is a disclaimer stating that itineraries may change due to circumstances beyond the control of the tour company/cruise line. Your experience was disappointing for sure, but at least you weren't unduly affected by water levels which turned your cruise into a bus tour!
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Old Feb 18th, 2024, 06:55 AM
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Originally Posted by zebec
Yo Starrs,
I gave this some thought then realized that the most disappointing travel experiences we'd had were sadly, ones involving friends. One couple had some unresolved issues and their anger management fell short.
We were with them then in a foreign country and their ongoing (mis)behaviour was disappointing. The following year, that same behaviour reared its ugly head when we again travelled with them in Canada.
Def not as great as we'd hoped.

I am done. The ex-friends
What zebec said brought back memories. The few trips I've had that were disappointing were the ones where I was traveling with someone who complained about everything, or just acted like they were miserable. It reminded me of the Vacation movie where the trip became a quest for fun.

Some of the best times of my life have been hanging out and laughing with friends. It doesn't matter where you are, it's who's with you.
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Old Feb 19th, 2024, 07:06 AM
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Originally Posted by P_M
What zebec said brought back memories. The few trips I've had that were disappointing were the ones where I was traveling with someone who complained about everything, or just acted like they were miserable. It reminded me of the Vacation movie where the trip became a quest for fun.

Some of the best times of my life have been hanging out and laughing with friends. It doesn't matter where you are, it's who's with you.
P_M, thanks for quoting z's post. I didn't see it earlier.
I had a similar horrible experience with (now a former) friend. It was while I was helping my parents and I needed to just get away. I wanted to go scalloping and a friend wanted to go along. Fine. The plan was just to relax, scallop and eat lots of oysters in one of my favorite dive bars. Then she asked if she could bring her new girlfriend. I said "yes", but should not have. The day before she called and said they were fighting. I was firm this time. The gf was no longer invited. I needed peace and fun, not fights. The gf came along anyway and it was a train wreck. I guess I have pretty high standards - once on the trip, just deal and put the trip as a priority. Another friend told a story of her and her partner having a screaming match on the Pont Alexandre III in Paris. No. Just no. I've increased my solo trips as time goes on. I still go with friends on trips, but only if I'm sure they are going to make the trip the priority. If not, I'm not going!
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Old Feb 19th, 2024, 06:11 PM
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We did a Viking Rhine River cruise last June. We have done 4 Windstar cruises so that’s what I compare to. The pluses were our cabin, our cabin steward, and the excursions. The food was good for the most part. The negatives were the fact that the boats parked next to each other so we couldn’t enjoy our balcony much of the time, for which we had paid extra. Also, they have very few dining tables for 2 so you are forced to sit with people you may not want to. Compared to Windstar, we found some of the staff not very warm. Finally, Windstar has a wonderful snack bar available in the afternoon with drinks, sandwiches, pastries, Viking does not. That being said, we are booked on a Viking ocean cruise, because of the itinerary.
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Old Feb 20th, 2024, 08:39 AM
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I think so far all of my best travel experiences have been those by road. Aside from one or two bad ones by cars or buses, all of my worst ones were on a plane. Idk why but even thinking about airports make me depressed, anxious and cranky at the same time. And it seems most people do not like airports either.
I prefer slower, relaxed transport. I can't relax on airports and airplanes. So I avoid flying as much as I can whithin Europe.

Last edited by tanek; Feb 20th, 2024 at 08:45 AM.
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Old Feb 20th, 2024, 09:22 AM
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A lot of good perspectives here. I have been looking at cruises lately and with all the options, it is so hard to know which would a good fit for me. I guess until one goes, you don’t really know. I always compared them with guided tours, love hate relationships.

I will never forget my first trip to Florence, Italy. It was during March and I think for some reason, I thought it was going to be so sunny with flowers all over. It was cold, rainy and not the flowers I was expecting. I almost cried. The same happened in Madrid. Yeah that sun on the weather map was very misleading as it snowed. No place to buy warm clothes as the stores only had Spring ones for sale. This also happens each time I go to California. I must be going the wrong time of year as who knew bringing my rain pants to Los Angeles was a smart idea. I now always keep them packed.

Travel partners can most certainly make or break a trip. I will never forget being on a cruise with a friend who disappeared while at sea. She just walked off away from the group. Her mental health could be questionable at times not to mention how windy the deck was so I got nervous. We searched the ship when she didn’t get back to the room by midnight. She was found singing karaoke at the bar. We were embarrassed to think the worst and I could tell she didn’t buy our just out walking excuse but seriously, effective communication would have been nice. The rest of the cruise went like that and I swore never again.
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Old Feb 26th, 2024, 01:26 PM
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tarek, , back in around 2005 , right before we left for our first trip to Greece, a Greek friend warned us what it would be like in Athens.
Your post includes everything she warned us about, that Greeks in the cities are not very welcoming, rather act brusque, , poor customer service and always, always bars and coffee shops packed with only men. Taren, that is what we saw every day, every night. Our rental came with daily maid service. The woman worked so hard, also did our laundry by hand! . One day she pointed to a group of men at a bar, and, yes, her husband was one of them sitting there with a drink in his hand..
But I loved the rest of Greece!

Last edited by HappyTrvlr; Feb 26th, 2024 at 01:44 PM.
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Old Apr 4th, 2024, 09:14 AM
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HappyTrvlr, I see, maybe one day I could repeat Greece and for sure I'll go to the rest of Greece. However, it has gone far down in my list. I haven't been to Scandinavia, Budapest, rural Austria, the Czech Republic outside Prague, Portugal or Spain yet so I'd like to prioritize those locations in Europe.

Unfortunately I now can add another Balkan capital to Athens for this thread: Bucharest.
I expected to be wowed. In a way I liked its old town. Unlike Sofia it has one, and it looks very nice in terms of architecture. But way too many buildings are crumbling.
I was also shocked by the trash I saw by the train tracks almost everywhere between Giurgiu and Bucharest. It was more than the trash I saw by the tracks between Sofia and Ruse, a distance 4 times longer! Athens and Bucharest might appear wealthier on paper, but frankly they look more backward than Sofia in real life. Dirtier, more crumbling buildings and more external poverty. For sure Sofia feels like a higher/better quality of life than them. Thats said there were some Romanian villages and towns that had good vibes on my way.

To not be all negative I liked the vibe of Giurgiu more than that of Ruse. Yes, unlike Ruse it has its old town completely destroyed so not much or nothing to see there. But in some places you just feel better, like you can breath easier there. And they don't have to be all that beautiful. Ideally you like the vibe of a beautiful place but unfortunately I hated both times I had to pass through Ruse. Even in passing I saw quite rudeness from locals and I felt unwelcoming vibes from the land itself somehow. You know how sometimes you enter a town or city and it somehow feels tense and off? That's how I felt in Ruse.

Aside from Giurgiu I also felt quite nice in several Bulgarian places on the way from Sofia to Bucharest and back: Pleven (nice to see, I have visisted it for longer), Levski (nothing to see but it had a nice vibe and the locals I met from there on the train were quite nice), Pavlikeni (small town in Veliko Tarnovo region), and the one I expected to hate but didn't: Gorna Oryahovitsa. It's an industrial town near Veliko Tarnovo, nothing of worth, but it felt so nice. It was nice that they at least kept the iron rails from the long-destroyed classical train station and the benches on the station are also in a historic-looking design. Apart from that the whole town is made of commie buildings. This is quite rare in Bulgaria, thank God. Funnily both tmes I passed through Ruse I got a headache and saw rude locals. And both times in Gorna Oryahovitsa I felt really nice. I haven't been to Veliko Tarnovo but to Arbanasi and remember liking it so I hope Tarnovo is one of the good vibes places for me.

In terms of nature Svoge and the villages around the Iskar river in the mountain are very beautiful.
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Old Apr 5th, 2024, 07:03 PM
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We went on a Viking river cruise from Basel to Amsterdam a few years ago. Although we had visited nearly all of the locations on earlier excursions through Europe, we discovered the. Very leisurely and at a pace we were happy with our Viking tour. The ship had wonderful food and service, but the entertainment was not up to the standard of an ocean-going ship, which was not something we expected or even wanted. Luckily, we avoided traveling during a period when river water levels presented any kind of challenge, saving us from having to switch to alternate modes of transportation. Without a doubt, I would go on another trip with that firm, and I hope you have a great time.
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Old Apr 17th, 2024, 07:57 PM
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Two travel experiences that did not turn out as expected were Santorini and Matera. I have no desire to visit either of them again.
I did return to Santorini one time and it was as overtouristed and packed as I remembered.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2024, 08:41 PM
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Originally Posted by HappyTrvlr
Two travel experiences that did not turn out as expected were Santorini and Matera. I have no desire to visit either of them again.
I did return to Santorini one time and it was as overtouristed and packed as I remembered.

Just found this thread and while I adored Matera (several visits), Santorini for me was one of the least interesting destinations I've ever been to. No desire to return to any Greek island, nor to Athens, after that trip.

Also had terrible experience in Mexico with now former friend. So bad I could almost write a book!
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Old Apr 24th, 2024, 12:59 PM
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Eks, I disliked Santorini on our first visit. We went back when the archeological site Akrotiri was reopened. Disliked Santorini even more. We felt like we had left Greece. We had good experiences on Paros and Crete.But also did not care for Matera with its tragic history; that was all I could think of while there.

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Old Apr 25th, 2024, 11:47 AM
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Happy, that's very interesting that you gave Santorini a second try and still was not "happy!!"
It was, to me, like looking at a beautiful woman with no soul.
And I was SO disappointed with the food.....granted, I ate where the friends we were with wanted to go (I was with a group of about 12 people including only one person I knew slightly; she was a great old friend of my partner and we were invited to go along. Issues with the group colored my experience, I am sure.)All of the food was fine, but none of it was interesting, to me....and there was a sameness about all the menus.

We did not have our own rental car and the entire group was ready to leave the hotel only after they sorted through every single photo they had taken the day before, ,so we did not get out until lunchtime....and the hotel they chose was, to say the least, not great; I remember that a review of it was the first time I ever posted anything on TripAdvisor!!). I don't get why people love the island unless they are on a romantic vacation and spend a lot of time in a great hotel....or maybe it's exotic to people with not much travel experience. The good part was that only myself and two others stayed on after Santorini; we spent time in Istanbul and then hired a car and driver (through a Turkish man who used to post here a lot and was very helpful; I think he was "otherchelebi") and drove along the coast to Foca and a few other towns....that was really fun; I don't know why more visitors to Turkey don't visit that northern Aegean coast...

Besides that, and the debacle with the former friend in Mexico, which had nothing to do with Mexico which I adore, I don't remember ever being anyplace where I did not have an interesting time and some fun.... But I think it's just much, much more difficult to find places that remain fairly unscathed by tourism.... II was surprised that even though Matera had more tourists than when I went about ten years ago, it did not seem at all overwhelmed by the visitors... Sorry I can't say the same thing about Taormina, though.

One place I wonder about is Costa Rica. I see SO many House Hunters shows where people go to live in various areas off the country. And we have friends who have gone and loved it.
But what is the big attraction? Ok, nature---rain forests but the animals are sloths and monkeys and birds, I think...how does that play out once you've been to Southern or East Africa?
And the beaches have big waves, or at least that's the impression I get, only from watching those tv shows; so you can surf, but can you swim in the ocean?
And the food? Is there much "local" cooking available to visitors?

When I compare CR to Mexico, I just don't see the appeal..never mind all the "pure Vida" phrasing.
Mexico, although obviously far larger, has just about anything for any traveler. Maybe I'm all off base, but I've never been interested in visiting.... I guess that's not the subject of this thread. I ought to start one about places that people have no desire to visit!!

Last edited by ekscrunchy; Apr 25th, 2024 at 11:58 AM.
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