During my travels, not EVERY place was somewhere I fell madly in love with and hoped to return one day. I learned quickly that some places are like some men – nice to look at but lack the depth of wanting to ever see them again. They are like a geographical catfish, somewhere that looks so good in IG pictures but when you get there it just lacks the ‘wow’ you wanted.
For me? Those four places are Venice, St. Bart’s, Barcelona and Atlanta.
Now before you attack me ‘OMGTHATSMYFAVORITEPLACEEVERHOWCOULDYOUNOTLIKEIT?!’ This is fine, shit happens. Not every place suits every personality or travel goal.
Let me start with Atlanta.
I went to Atlanta back in May of 2013 for Atlanta Carnival. As a regular carnival-goer I saw the cheap flight and hotel opportunity if I flew from Buffalo to there and figured I’d go check out what an American carnival looked like. I really do not know what the fuck I was thinking.
My understanding of Atlanta was based off too many rap videos that included Magic City and some sordid ‘this gonna be a freaknik type weekend’ ideologies. BOY WAS I WRONG. It was nothing like that. I found downtown Atlanta to be so quiet and peaceful. This really upset me. On the Sunday of our trip mostly everything was even closed downtown and people were out with their families in parks. Y’all got parks? Days off? WHAT? As a hardcore Torontonian this was completely beyond my mind. Although the people were probably some of the nicest I have ever met, the timidity was too much for what I expected Atlanta to be like ESPECIALLY since I was there for a carnival.
The carnival itself was awful as well. The parade route was maybe 2 km? The men and the women didn’t dance on each other at all and there was children everywhere on the parade route. How am I suppose to get on bad at a family event? I’m not even going to talk about the fetes we went to, because that would require me to go to a worthless memory. Just not even worth talking about.
Aside from the incredibly nice people, delicious food and some baddies at Magic City – I really have no wish to return there. That city is way too well behaved for my shenanigans.
Moving on to Venice.
People have this romantic and wanderlusting image of Venice, I can’t blame them. All of us heard about those winding canals, romantic scenery and the hopes that we would one day be with our love on a gondola being serenaded. Sounds so wonderful right?
I gave Venice a big ‘meh’ – I found it overrated, crowded and very mean. I wanted to so badly fall in love with Venice as someone who had been dying to go there for a good portion of my life. It really did nothing for me.
My best friends and I were in Venice in June 2015 and none of us left particularly impressed by it. (Full disclosure: we were only there on a day trip from Croatia.) To start, holy shit is it expensive. My mom had told me it would be as she is someone who still loves Venice after being there couple of times. But we were NOT ready.
Now when I say expensive I don’t mean the ‘I can’t afford this meal’ expensive I mean the ‘WHY THE HELL DOES SITTING AND DRINKING AN ORANGE JUICE HERE COST 21 EUROS?’ expensive. The scenery in Piazza San Marco is beautiful and cool to see, but do I have some deep need to ever see it again? Not really.
We weren’t even there in the major part of tourist season as it was only the middle of June, so I cannot even imagine how crazy it is during July and August. As someone who walks like a maniac down the streets of Toronto, this just did not work for me. We did however manage to get cursed at in Italian by an elderly man because we weren’t aware of the walking rules. (Something about walking on the left? fungula?)
We did the gondola ride, that was neat. Just to be able to say we did that. The odor from the water had already begun in this part of June, so I imagine in the hotter months it must smell even worse. The best part of Venice was looking at the local men in their suits. If you are into beautiful Italian men who wear the most perfectly fitting suits you have ever seen? Then YES do go to Venice. There is a plethora of them and if you stare hard enough, you may also see one get slapped by his girlfriend. Yes, that happened as well.
Same trip, Barcelona.
When we went on this Euro trip that included Venice, we also had a couple of days in Barcelona. We had arrived in Barcelona after spending time in Madrid. The reason this is pertinent is we only went to Madrid because it was the cheapest flight into Europe at the time and we wanted to use it as a passage to the ‘more fun’ Barcelona. Again, WOW were we wrong.
I’m not sure if Barcelona would have come off more incredible if we had not gone to Madrid, but because we took that route, Barcelona seemed just OK. We had such an (unexpectedly) amazing time in Madrid that when we got to Barcelona to me it was not even close in comparison.
I get it though. Barcelona is beach, art and party. We spent our first day on La Barceloneta beach and that is probably where my annoyance took shape. Why is there like 40,000,000 people on one beach? Every five seconds someone is asking me if I want food, massage or liquor. I just want to rest and get rid of this hangover, why must you talk to me? On top of that, the annoying 20-something groups of Brit males that were drunk and everywhere on the beach ‘play-fighting’ made it even worse.
The club scene was cool, I could see how that would be a draw for Barcelona. We went clubbing that night to some bar that had the back of it go onto a stretch of beach. The drinks were expensive, most of the crowd was kind of douchey but at least the music was good and so was the scenery. But again, not as good as the clubs we enjoyed in Madrid.
If you want party and beach, Barcelona is definitely for you. Just do not go to Madrid before it because it will completely outshine it.
Finally, St. Bart’s.
At the end of 2015, I took a trip to St. Maarten and was fortunate to be able to fit a day trip to Anguilla and St. Bart’s during that trip. While I absolutely adored St. Maarten and Anguilla, St. Bart’s was not my cup of tea at all.
St. Bart’s is one of those places you hope to be wealthy enough to see one day. Personally, I couldn’t in my wildest dreams think I could be NOT rich and get to this island. I was really excited to see it because all I ever read about was this place being the playground for the rich and famous.
When we arrived in our boat, the FIRST thing we saw was about 15-20 yachts parked with those 1% people having their breakfast on it. For someone who was hype to see where these exact people come to hang out, seeing that imagery really makes you realize how NOT-rich you are. We had some quick conversations with the other people that had come on the day trip and they told us Russell Simmons had just walked by them and how a hamburger at a restaurant close by was 40 EUROS. Oh dear. We had arrived.
We were fortunate enough to befriend two girls on the boat that rented a Jeep to go cruise the island so we could see more of this beautiful and rich playground. As we were driving, we were quickly reminded of how French this island was. It was like Quebec Jr. I would assume that the people were more likely from actual France, but because I have never been to France I cannot comment on their locals. However, as someone who has dealt with ONE too many Quebecers in Canada and abroad, the attitudes and behaviours seemed to fit. My goodness were they crass and rude. They looked and spoke down to everyone there who was not wearing $400 Gucci flip flops.
On the one side of the island we parked and brought our things onto Nikki Beach. Gorgeous. This beach was so clean and relaxed. I loved it. Then we decided to play some music and immediately the stares and dirty looks from the topless sunbathing French began. We had even found an area far away from everyone to play our music, and still, when they walked by the ces gens sont des paysans looks were evident. (Translation: These people are peasants)
Between being expensive and full of jerks, I have no reason to ever return to St. Bart’s. I’m happy I saw it but I do not ever have to return.
I realize many of my readers, my friends and even my mom love the places I mentioned. Some of you even live there and some of you have goals to travel there. I am not discouraging anyone from doing it nor will I judge if you liked it. They just did not do it for me. Whether my expectations were too high/convoluted (Atlanta and Barcelona) or maybe I’m not rich enough to enjoy them like I should (Venice and St. Bart’s) – I am perfectly fine with never returning to them ever again.