An antidote to lock-down cabin fever: tourist disappointments

Malcolm Redfellow

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Just been matching distaste for Venice with Lumpy Talbot: he seems even more disenchanted than myself. And I'm the jaundiced cynic, too.

And as a jaundiced cynic, I'm none too keen on the double-ententre of 'Well-known member'.

I'm not saying Venice is my greatest disappointment — though Venetians persist in their millennium-long pursuit of everybody else's money. The city undoubtedly has many worthy attractions, and all best seen on a misty day out-of-season. As always, its best delights are the cheaper ones — the vaporetti rides down the Grand Canal, or to Murano, Burano, the Lido, the Airport, that come as optional extras once you've bought the ACTV weekly ticket. Not quite the free ride of the Staten Island Ferry, which has to be one of the great pluses of any NYC trip.

Before the great immurement began, we had a fortnight in Cyprus: that must have been the second prize. Same as Madeira: a week, ten days is quite enough. Even then, a long afternoon eating pizzas and drinking local wine, in March temperatures around 20 degrees, and people watching ain't too bad. There's one particular restaurant on Nicosia's Ledra Street which looks eminently pass-by-able, but has a delightful secluded courtyard. And when you emerge, replete, turn right and head for the Green Line: one feels almost at home, 1980s Belfast with as much barbed wire and a better climate.

The previous year, early Spring, we headed down to Bordeaux and shuttled back to Paris and Eurostar by stopping trains and a grand cathedral crawl (as a result we were in Notre-Dame a month before the fire — the analogy was deciding not to go up the World Trade Centre a month before 9/11) . That was to make good on one of my grand disappointments: decades earlier, my first visit to Chartres. We made it, only to find — superb as the windows always are — Sunday Mass involved one guy twanging an acoustic guitar. That followed from Le Mans in the rain, and continued with a mosquito-infested hotel in Angoulême. Every cloud, etc., and the gloom persisted until we came over a hill, short of Le Bugue, and the sun broke through, just as we were about to pass (and wisely chose not to) a small hostelry, festooned with those trailing geraniums that I can never get to grow, and a long, leisurely lunch with crisp white wine.

At the top of my disappointments list would have to be the Great State of Utah. The cuisine is appalling. If the Almighty had intended functioning alcoholics to travel he wouldn't have put all those sights and sites so far apart and in Utah. Even when we escaped, into Arizona, we were still a-cursed: we put up in a hotel which happened to be in a Reservation, and so was 'dry'. Root-beer features strongly in my list of hates.

I caught a dose of flu — back home, it put me in hospital overnight— at Santa Lucia in Siracusa (the Lady in my Life got a tick infection). Daughters returned from India and Egypt, both with 'interesting' stomach complaints that gave the NHS doctors new material for Lancet pieces. EasyJet from Barcelona dumped us at Luton at 2 a.m., when we were supposed to be arriving at Stansted at 10 pm (and the car was, but of course, at Stansted). The salt-nodules of the Dead Sea shred the flesh (grandson's one-word appreciation on the Treasury at Petra: 'Indy'). Yeats's grave can rarely be viewed without the Atlantic belting in horizontally on a force eight : reminds me of the English canal-boat operator who was prepared to have a base on the Shannon, provided 'they build a roof over it'. Most London gastro-pubs are best appreciated while they are closed. Most minor museums, and all specialist ones — ethnological ones in particular — should be studiously avoided. French supermarket wine is, in practice, generally overpriced, and — at the prices I can afford — not the quality of the imported stuff the French scorn. Las Vegas is the pits. The New York Metro is a mobile slum; and any major US airport with multiple terminals is 'confuse-a-cat week'.

And yet ... and yet ...
 


Nebuchadnezzar

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Just been matching distaste for Venice with Lumpy Talbot: he seems even more disenchanted than myself. And I'm the jaundiced cynic, too.

And as a jaundiced cynic, I'm none too keen on the double-ententre of 'Well-known member'.

I'm not saying Venice is my greatest disappointment — though Venetians persist in their millennium-long pursuit of everybody else's money. The city undoubtedly has many worthy attractions, and all best seen on a misty day out-of-season. As always, its best delights are the cheaper ones — the vaporetti rides down the Grand Canal, or to Murano, Burano, the Lido, the Airport, that come as optional extras once you've bought the ACTV weekly ticket. Not quite the free ride of the Staten Island Ferry, which has to be one of the great pluses of any NYC trip.

Before the great immurement began, we had a fortnight in Cyprus: that must have been the second prize. Same as Madeira: a week, ten days is quite enough. Even then, a long afternoon eating pizzas and drinking local wine, in March temperatures around 20 degrees, and people watching ain't too bad. There's one particular restaurant on Nicosia's Ledra Street which looks eminently pass-by-able, but has a delightful secluded courtyard. And when you emerge, replete, turn right and head for the Green Line: one feels almost at home, 1980s Belfast with as much barbed wire and a better climate.

The previous year, early Spring, we headed down to Bordeaux and shuttled back to Paris and Eurostar by stopping trains and a grand cathedral crawl (as a result we were in Notre-Dame a month before the fire — the analogy was deciding not to go up the World Trade Centre a month before 9/11) . That was to make good on one of my grand disappointments: decades earlier, my first visit to Chartres. We made it, only to find — superb as the windows always are — Sunday Mass involved one guy twanging an acoustic guitar. That followed from Le Mans in the rain, and continued with a mosquito-infested hotel in Angoulême. Every cloud, etc., and the gloom persisted until we came over a hill, short of Le Bugue, and the sun broke through, just as we were about to pass (and wisely chose not to) a small hostelry, festooned with those trailing geraniums that I can never get to grow, and a long, leisurely lunch with crisp white wine.

At the top of my disappointments list would have to be the Great State of Utah. The cuisine is appalling. If the Almighty had intended functioning alcoholics to travel he wouldn't have put all those sights and sites so far apart and in Utah. Even when we escaped, into Arizona, we were still a-cursed: we put up in a hotel which happened to be in a Reservation, and so was 'dry'. Root-beer features strongly in my list of hates.

I caught a dose of flu — back home, it put me in hospital overnight— at Santa Lucia in Siracusa (the Lady in my Life got a tick infection). Daughters returned from India and Egypt, both with 'interesting' stomach complaints that gave the NHS doctors new material for Lancet pieces. EasyJet from Barcelona dumped us at Luton at 2 a.m., when we were supposed to be arriving at Stansted at 10 pm (and the car was, but of course, at Stansted). The salt-nodules of the Dead Sea shred the flesh (grandson's one-word appreciation on the Treasury at Petra: 'Indy'). Yeats's grave can rarely be viewed without the Atlantic belting in horizontally on a force eight : reminds me of the English canal-boat operator who was prepared to have a base on the Shannon, provided 'they build a roof over it'. Most London gastro-pubs are best appreciated while they are closed. Most minor museums, and all specialist ones — ethnological ones in particular — should be studiously avoided. French supermarket wine is, in practice, generally overpriced, and — at the prices I can afford — not the quality of the imported stuff the French scorn. Las Vegas is the pits. The New York Metro is a mobile slum; and any major US airport with multiple terminals is 'confuse-a-cat week'.

And yet ... and yet ...
I never intended any double entendre.

Biggest holiday disappointment? Florida. Miami in particular. Art Deco metropolis? Harrumph.

Venice? Hidden gem nearby.....Vicenza and Palladio’s Villa Rotunda in particular.
 

Malcolm Redfellow

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I never intended any double entendre.
I see, below your avatar, that you too are 'a well-known member'.

Managed to miss Florida: not greatly bothered. The 'art deco' of Miami Beach probably works on travelogue video better than in life. I was walked around the Bauhaus 'masterpieces' of Tel Aviv with the same feeling of 'Huh?'. The Art Deco that sticks in my mind is the Courtauld's fantasy at Eltham Palace:
Eltham-Palace-Entrance-Hall-1.jpg


On the whole, though, it doesn't seem to me a style best suited to our northern climate. And the Daily Express building in Fleet Street, which we are all told to admire, really is 'the Black Lubyanka'. As I recall, the Carreras Cigarette Factory in Camden Town (for me, since childhood, the 'Black Cat' building) was mooted as a site for the Greater London Authority: why anyone would prefer Norman Foster's 'glass testicle' escapes me:
c1.staticflickr.com%2F1%2F18%2F90618527_94554ee0a3.jpg





You are, of course, absolutely right about Palladio's gems across the Veneto.
 

gijoe

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I've only been in Venice once and was really blown away by the place. It was 'low season' about a week in advance of carnival and got a good hotel room b&b in the city for about €55/night - I'm sure it was a multiple of that for carnival. Even for 'low season' it seemed really busy to me. But after dark (circa 4.30pm) the place emptied out of the day trippers and was a pleasure to wander around. It is so easy to get lost around all the little piazzas that it became part of the charm trying to way find my back to the hotel on the canal.

I'd go back again in a heartbeat.

I was also in Cyprus and Nicosia recently. Wasn't particularly impressed with Cyprus overall. Paphos has a nice seafront walk and castle, the seafront is just about 4-5kms of hotels and the town itself inland is a right dump. Ayia Napa is another dump in fairness. In Nicosia like you stated with Ledra Street the person I was travelling went shopping up that street and accidentally ran into the border the first day we were there. The Turkish side is really Turkish and it really is two different Nicosia's. The Cypriot side is mostly run down and not anything to write home about. I could not recommend Cyprus overall, Malta is really far superior.

I found Las Vegas good overall. Didn't do any gambling but had a walk around all the main casino's and no one stops you! Casears Palace must have cost billions - it really is stunning inside. Did the wheel with the bar on board, got about 7 drinks while going round (tip: tip the bartender early and he will ply you with drink during the way round). Used Las Vegas then as a base for the Grand Canyon.
 
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Lumpy Talbot

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Best thing about Venice indeed was wandering at dawn through the city when no one was around and getting lost until you glimpsed the lagoon and could re-orientate.

017.jpg


019.jpg
 

Lumpy Talbot

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No
Only two others handy. The attractions of the city are on the surface, really.

018.jpg


021.jpg
 

MsDaisyC

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Avoid flying into Murcia Int'l Airport. It's in the middle of nowhere and badly serviced by public transport and the car hire companies at the airport are ripoff merchants. Murcia region itself is okay but you would need a car to get around to see anything decent. It didn't help that I went there a couple of weeks after the Gota Fria and the beaches and water were still out of bounds.

I second Las Vegas. It's a 24/7 city and even without gambling a cent, you'll have fun. Los Angeles bored me 20 years ago and I've had no desire to go back. Like a botoxed face, it has no character, is plastic and vapid.
 

gijoe

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Avoid flying into Murcia Int'l Airport. It's in the middle of nowhere and badly serviced by public transport and the car hire companies at the airport are ripoff merchants. Murcia region itself is okay but you would need a car to get around to see anything decent. It didn't help that I went there a couple of weeks after the Gota Fria and the beaches and water were still out of bounds.

I second Las Vegas. It's a 24/7 city and even without gambling a cent, you'll have fun. Los Angeles bored me 20 years ago and I've had no desire to go back. Like a botoxed face, it has no character, is plastic and vapid.
I was in LA 2 years ago on the same trip as Las Vegas. Chalk and cheese. LA is a dump. Downtown is just a homeless tent city and I'm not even talking about Skid Row. Walking from Chinatown to LA City Hall was full of it. And getting the bus from Downtown to the Greyhound bus station was an eye opener - we were getting a bus to San Diego which is an infinitely nicer city. Hollywood is just tacky and LA just seem to have all their mental patients out on the street and public transport.
 

raetsel

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I visited Venice for the fourth, and probably final time last July on the final day of a tour of Veneto taking in Vicenza, Verona and Mantua. As we had an early flight the following morning we stayed overnight in Mestre. We stayed in Cannaregio for a week ten years ago so it wasn't important for us to stay in the old city this time. The biggest shock was the price of a single trip on a vaporetto - €9. That used to be priced similarly to ordinary urban bus services elsewhere in Italy. The Teatro Olimpico in Vicenza was worth visiting but pricey if I recall correctly. Best value of the trip was the Verona opera with basic tickets costing less than €25 each.
As for disappointments on holiday, it's Porto in my case. Inhaling dust and diesel fumes as I climbed up the hill from our hotel on the riverfront to the old centre is not very pleasant, and there wasn't a public transport option.
 
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raetsel

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I never intended any double entendre.

Biggest holiday disappointment? Florida. Miami in particular. Art Deco metropolis? Harrumph.

Venice? Hidden gem nearby.....Vicenza and Palladio’s Villa Rotunda in particular.
Another nearby hidden gem is Scrovegni chapel in Padua but it's a Unesco World Heritage Site and needs to be booked well in advance in the summer.
 

raetsel

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I know. We tried. We were too late. Promised ourselves, 'Next time'. And look what has happened.
"Next time" is the big imponderable. It may be several years away.
 

Lumpy Talbot

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Preferred a week I had in Perugia to Venice, easily. There is a wonderful sight in the dusk and dawn around Perugia, which is a great stone town occupying a rocky promontory on the wide plains where Hannibal and his army once marched down from the Alps. Because it is a huge open plain and the towns and villages are clustered on these rocky promontories so in the dark as you look out from a height the towns appear like cruise ships at night matching speed wih your own.

And also because of the physical geography in the fading evening light and just before dawn you get these fabulous mists creeping along the plain, so the towns and cities you can see also look at times like they are floating above the clouds.

When travel for pleasure resumes I would recommend getting out and about beyond Rome/Venice/Milan/ and into the lesser known cities and towns, many of which are very pretty and a hell of a lot cheaper than the aforementioned. The food and the coffee everyone knows the Italians have sorted out, no problem.

Per.jpg
 
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Lumpy Talbot

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Should I find my self in Italy again I am not going to have an itinerary. I'll get out of the main cities and out to smaller towns and just follow my nose. Italy is the great place on earth for allowing the old schnozz to take the leadership role. You can hardly go wrong in terms of interest.

perugia-1-crop.jpg
 
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MsDaisyC

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A new account illustrating one star reviews of American parks.
 


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