When travelling, it’s almost impossible to avoid a bit of disappointment. Sometimes, you don’t get the window seat you wanted in the plane, sometimes all your stay is ruined by rain and bad weather and sometimes the most famous attractions in a city are simply a disappointment. I like to visit the most famous monuments a city has to offer so that I know, I’m not missing out anything from my visit. But I only wish, I never visited these 5 monuments in Europe!
Manneken Pis, Brussels
Probably the most disappointing travel experience I’ve ever had. Belgium is a weird country since there is not one single major thing the country is famous for, but instead, it is famous for many minor things like chocolate, waffles and the European Parliament. Plus, it is overshadowed by other European countries like Switzerland and France since they steal its thunder for the chocolate/food industry and the diplomatic positions. Instead, Belgium is left with the Manneken Pis as a symbol.
I ignore the history, and I actually don’t want to really know. But for the purpose of writing this blog post, I will do some research. So apparently Manneken Pis means “Little Man Pees”. It was put in place in 1619 and stolen. Then restored. But the original one is hidden elsewhere in Brussels. Another reason not to visit, it’s only a replica on display since 1965.
When I was in Brussels, I was walking with my dad in the center. It was a great and sunny day. There are many pretty, quiet and empty streets. But one street away, we were facing crowds of tourists. Crowds! They were from everywhere! All for one thing, the Manneken Pis. I could see disappointment in their eyes though. But for me, it was alright. It was actually my second time in Brussels so I got over it on the first visit.
So basically, I was expecting a huge statue. All I got is a tiny little boy pissing. In the chocolate store nearby, there’s one made of chocolate three times the size of the original. And that looks more appealing! Surely, it’s not about the size… but come on Brussels, you can do better than a tiny 61 cm peeing statue.
When I first moved to the UK, I wanted to visit every single state of the Kingdom which I am almost completing (but I am missing Northern Ireland). I also wanted to do every experience the country is famous for. Sure, London has it all. But I wanted to see what’s outside.
So I took one of those £30 day trips from London to Stonehenge and Bath. They are sold pretty much everywhere in the touristy hotspots in London. I’d recommend actually since it’s cheap but my experience was just neutral and plain like a fish and chips meal.
I arrive to Stonehenge all excited. I paid £13 entry fee and off to explore… Except that there’s not much to explore. Those stones do not look as impressive as they should be! Because on the brochures, they looked huge! And surely the beautiful sunset makes them even better… Sadly, it was cloudy when I was there and there’s nothing to do about it! Overall, I still think one must see Stonehenge at least once but it’s important to lower expectations beforehand. Otherwise, it’s just a plain disappointment.
Mona Lisa, Louvre, Paris
I’ve seen it everywhere. And she stairs at me everywhere too. This mysterious Mona Lisa is so famous that you become a fan at some point. In my case, I wanted to see the original. The real one. Face to face. Eye to eye. So I went to Louvre Museum in Paris.
The minute I enter the museum, I started searching around. Suddenly, I see a huge crowd which makes the experience far more disappointing as The New York Times agrees. The same type of crowd I saw near the Manneken Pis in Brussels. But I cannot see what they are taking pictures of… I finally get to the first row to see the masterpiece. I took a moment to realise how small the most famous piece of art was.
She was small, tiny and overprotected by the museum. I can understand why overprotected. But I couldn’t understand why she is so smaller than I ever thought. I expected a huge piece taking the whole wall and taking the visitors by storm with her catchy look. Instead, I took my souvenir picture but she was so far behind on my camera… and I left. I was disappointed but again, it was all about expectations. Although, I still think it’s a very original and exceptional piece of art.
The Little Mermaid, Copenhagen
To cut it short. The Little Mermaid in Copenhagen is an absolute waste of time!
Firstly, she’s not located in the center so a fairly long trip is needed to reach there. This rather tiny statue sits comfortably by the water. And around it, many tourists get their feet wet for a picture. I’d call them stupid but that means I’m stupid too… because I got my feet wet too for a picture! Anyway, that monument was really not what I expected. On my second trip to Copenhagen, I’ve done less touristy activities so I visited Christiania and met many locals who obviously didn’t recommend me to go visit that statue.
Taksim Square, Istanbul
Istanbul is one of the most touristic cities in the world. I’ve visited few times and I always have a great experience. During one visit, I wanted to be as close as possible to the center as I had a stopover on the way to Malaysia. I needed to be close to the bus stop that goes back to Ataturk Airport. I found out that Taksim Square is the most central and convenient place for this trip, and it was recommended by many people, non-Turkish people.
I found a cheap £14 per night studio flat in the area. Practical and central location but sadly, I just don’t know what tourists like about Taksim, sure it’s nice to be in a vibrant part of Istanbul but Taksim is also dodgy. And definitely not the best place in town.
I don’t really understand why tourists get excited about those areas. Really? Can someone explain? It’s everywhere, if it’s not Taksim Square then it’s Leicester Square in London (which I should add as #6 on this list but I’m not) or it’s Times Square in New York. However, I love Times Square. Though if I lived in New York, it would be a no-go zone for me. My disappointment was so real that on my next trip I stayed in Besiktas, also central and vibrant but far less touristy and much cleaner. I also avoided being trapped in the chaos of Taksim as I visited one day after a terror attack in that area.