Friday, September 14, 2012

Top 6 Epic Tourist Sites to Avoid*

I was reading an article written by a couple who traveled for six consecutive months. They talked about things they learned during this time, boiling them down to six. I promise I didn’t copy them with the “Top 6” list. I started it first with my Top 6 Epic TV Shows Relating to Food post.

The point that stood out for me was number six: “You Can’t See Everything”. This is a concept that previously created anxiety and guilt when I traveled. Random, gnawing, crazy thoughts ran through my mind like I hadn’t tried hard enough, or I shouldn’t have slept so I could jam more in, or I should have researched and planned more.

When we arrive at a new destination Chris (my hubby) and I try to jam in as much as possible. This has its pros and cons. Pro: get to see significant (tourist) sites and more of them - after all isn’t that why we flew to the other side of the world? Con: exhaustion.

Humans naturally reach a point of saturation. It’s like the concept of you can only know and maintain interactions with 150 people maximum, before the insignificant people fall off your consciousness. Think Facebook – do you really know, remember and keep in touch with 459 people on your “friends list”? Similarly with travel, doing and seeing everything is too much content and visual stimulation to absorb.

Instead you could take the time to smell the roses and let the place speak to you through spontaneity and mere observation. So that’s what Chris and I try to do now (except for the random booking of hard to get into places like Incanto in San Francisco, Momofuku in New York). We’ve had some of the best experiences usually on the last day or two of a trip or city, where we let loose, have no plans and wander aimlessly exploring and observing the locals.

I’ve had a flick through my mental catalog of trips and realised there’s a handful of epic places I’ve missed out on seeing. This is because I opted for smelling the roses instead of waiting in long queues. I decided to save something for next time. Maybe.


*more aptly titled: Top 6 Epic Tourist Sites Angie Avoided


1. The Louvre, Paris 
I saw the glass pyramid. I didn’t see the Mona Lisa. Chris had been another time and said you can never get close to the damn thing anyway. So I didn’t see the point in tackling the crowds (screw them) or straining my already bad eyesight. Instead we wandered through Montmartre, ate delectable Nutella crepes, drank coffee and power napped in Sacre-Coeur.

Montmartre, Paris, June 2011. Nutella on the corner of my mouth.

2. Vatican City, Rome 

My father, for a Greek, is not very religious. His contempt for the institution of church has stuck with me. So I wasn’t going to line up for six hours in 35 degree Celsius weather to get into the holiest of cities in the hope that I see some old dude wearing a robe. Yeah-yeah, great artwork and amazing architecture my friends say. I was in Rome - that shit is everywhere! My friend Stevie lined up whilst Patti and I got stuck into some delicious towering gelato, wandered, I’m pretty sure, the rest of the city aimlessly and sat on the Spanish Steps people watching.

Spanish Steps, Rome, August 2006. Friendly dog and stranger.


3. Anne Frank House, Amsterdam
Who wants to see a bunch of empty rooms where a girl in hiding from the Nazis wrote her diary? Don’t get me wrong, Anne’s story is significant and scary because well, she captured it in that diary of hers. If you really want to be frightened and understand the scope of Nazi rule and oppression, words on a page won’t do it, check out Auschwitz in Poland instead. Need I spell out how I spent my time in Amsterdam? Paranoid and confused, wandering the canals and getting stuck into small dutch pancakes that tasted like fluffy clouds.

One of many canals, Amsterdam, May 2011.


4. Stratosphere Tower, Las Vegas
This is one I actually regret. Five fucking days in Vegas (two days too long in my opinion) and we didn’t even hit up old, seedy Vegas. Instead I carry a small pocketful of vodka infused fuzzy memories interwoven with the sounds and flashing lights of slot machines, fake stripper boobs slapping my face, sleeping all day, partying all night and sleeping on the chopper as we flew over the Grand Canyon. Vegas baby, Vegas. 

Grand Canyon, Nevada, November 2010. Angie passed out on early morning helicopter ride.


5. Disneyland, Anaheim (Los Angeles)
The happiest place on earth wasn’t alluring enough. The swirling teacups will have to wait until next time, with some kids in tow to make the most of it. Instead Chris and I checked out the LA Angels play the Oakland Athletics at Angels Stadium, all whilst drinking beer and eating bad hotdogs of course!

Anaheim, California, May 2012. Baseball game: Angels vs. Oakland Athletics.


6. The Tiger Temple, Bangkok
My awareness of animal cruelty came into full swing during our Thailand trip. First it was seeing elephants carting fat tourists around in Koh Samui; then it was the suggestion of hotel staff in Bangkok to have my photo taken with a sedated tiger. No fucking thanks. I feel for the poor people trying to make a buck, I want to support them, I really do. I just don’t want to support them being cruel to animals, otherwise naturally supposed to roam free. I plan on seeing wild animals in their natural habitat on African safari. The Thai are going to have to work more ethically to get my buck. So instead we spent our money making the most of the great services they offer including mani/pedis and getting two massages a day.

Koh Samui, Thailand, February 2010. Captive elephant.


  1. I've seen 4 of this sight but the most impressive one artisticly speaking is the Vatican City

    1. Hi Franco, thanks for reading my blog. My friend Stevie (who lined up for the Vatican whilst I ate gelato) said the same; he loved it. No doubt it's great artistically and architecturally least now I have a reason to go back to Rome, because I didn't see everything the first time!

  2. Haha! great post! I think the majority of touristy places are over rated. But I like that they are the places that the majority of travellers are drawn to. It leaves the amazing off the beaten track places for the minority of us!

    1. Hi Amelia, thanks for reading my blog and for commenting. Couldn't agree with you more! I always find when I least expect it, just walking aimlessly, I come across something great (and unique that appeals to perhaps only me) that no travel guide would ever capture.