The more you travel the more you’re bound to end up in places that you simply hate. There are things to like in a lot of cities, some others you don’t particularly like, and occasionally that one place you detest, and that’s OK. Travelers often don’t talk about the places they downright can’t stand, all things being subjective, they tell us more about the traveler than the destination, and that’s OK too.
One Point In Time, Space, and Mind
A traveler and trip are the culmination of of many things – a cheap ticket on a certain airline, off to a given city, and only to land in a moment of time. Your moods can change more quickly when you’re on the road since your senses tend to be heightened whenever your surroundings are new. Even the world’s biggest optimist and positive thinker can get hit at the wrong time.
Loving Everywhere Doesn’t Make You A Better Traveler
It doesn’t make you less of a traveler, human being, or optimist (if you are one) to admit your hate a place. Of course you should give it time and find the causes of your disgust and try to remedy them first. You’ll end up finding that the things you don’t like say more about you than anything else. Whether its the cleanliness, people, or food you can’t stand it’s all about you.
Travel to a large extent is an egotistical act, the places you see are static, it’s the culture surrounding you that interact with. Cultures are the culmination of necessity and natural progression, the people you are around live within their cultures without hating them (quite the opposite). In fact, that’s something you’ll realize too the more you travel. The familiar is always comfortable.
Impressions Change, As Do You
Some places simply don’t agree with us, for whatever reason, but even those impressions are not set in stone. Looking back at yourself and determining quite what it is you don’t like and why, helps you discern differences. You might actually get to like a place as well. Or not, and that’s OK too. Sometimes hating a place just happens and the best thing to do is move on. It might help you appreciate where you just were a bit more.
[photos by: Bright_Star, Aleera*]
I know exactly what you mean. For some weird reason, I have hated a couple of really popular places….mostly because of expectations. I did not like Florence as much as I loved Rome and Sienna and other places. It was dirty, way too touristy and those long lines at museums did not help either.
I think if I go back there now, I might like it better because now I know what to expect and ignore.
Another place that disappointed me was Denali National Park in Alaska. The tundra vegetation…was just not what I had expected. But a couple of friends told me that it is beautiful in fall. So, I do think it matters when you go and with whom and your mood to like/dislike a place.
So many things come together when you are somewhere and the expectations on top of that. I tend to find the places that I don’t expect too much from surprise me the most.
I can’t really think of anywhere I *hate* (except maybe Baltimore), but there are plenty of places I’ve been dissappointed with and happy to leave- Prague for example. I wonder if I return at a different point in life I’ll feel differently? Kind of like reading the same book decades later and finding things you didn’t know were there.
I haven’t really hated a place too much outside of certain moments. It doesn’t usually last long and in hindsight it wasn’t ever all bad. I definitely do think years can change your perception of a place. Surprised to hear that about Prague though…
I can think of a few places I’ve been to that I dislike, as for hating a place, I don’t think it’s possible to hate a location, but you can hate the people you met, or the experiences you had while you were there. Now ask me about places I love, now the list gets much bigger.
It’s usually more about the people and experiences than weather or inanimate objects like architecture.
My only hated destinations are because I burnt out on them with business travel. I never need to go to Orlando again!
With pleasure travel, I shift totally into “go with the flow” mode so things that would frustrate me in the US (like standing in line) are part of the cultural experience when I’m somewhere else. 😉
When I was traveling for a ‘real job’ I too got burned out of some places because often I couldn’t get to enjoy them. I just ended up blaming the place, but admittedly it did make me feel better and there are no hard feelings between me and those cities 🙂
While I loved Cambodia, I really hated Phnom Penh. I know it had a lot to do with where I stayed (why did I need a $5 hostel, I could have splurged on a great $7 hostel) but I found it to be really seedy. After two nights I realized I was starting to get bitter and just moved on.
Funny how perceptions vary. Dan’s Adventure was raving about it on the previous best city to visit contest post. That cheapest hostel is often a bad call, I try to shoot closer to the middle but have had some bad nights to spare a few bucks too.
I actually found Laos frustrating, aggressive, barking dogs, bad transportation options and overpriced hostels were part of my experience. However, I would give it a go again, because much of it can be who you were at the time and state of mind. If I hate it a second time, I’ll know the answer. 🙂
“Hate” is a strong word. I’ve been to a number of places that I don’t wish to ever return (either worn out from multiple work visits or disappointed in my one visit on a trip) but that doesn’t mean the trip there wasn’t worthwhile. Interesting post and comments and a great lead photo as always, so well themed with the story…
Thanks Mark, I was pretty happy about getting to use Oscar for this one. Sesame Street has a special place in my heart.
Although I’ve visited some cities that I didn’t enjoy as much, I do hope I can go back to those places someday and see if I can get better impressions.
It would make for an interesting book. To go somewhere, hate it, but return year after year and see what happens.
I wouldn’t use the word ‘hate’ but I have places that were severely disappointing that I couldn’t wait to get out and wouldn’t return to visit. But then if a particular country/city has no appeal to me, I don’t go there. No point doing it just to check something off a list and say I’ve been there. Business travel is a different thing altogether.
Any places that really stick out as not living up to your expectations or exceeding them?
There are too many to list but to keep it simple, let’s just say Milan didn’t impress me while Palermo, a last minute change in itinerary, was much better than I had anticipated. I’ll get to write about the various places eventually 🙂
I look forward to reading them…
I agree. it’s ok to dislike some places you initially thought you’d like or vice versa – to like some places you thought you’d hate. Taipei was a place I thought I’d like, but I didn’t really enjoy the crowded city, except for its restaurant / street foods. One place I thought I’d hate is Havana, Cuba but I ended up loving the whole city and culture!!!
You can’t like everything, true. It’s also hard for most people to hate something for very long. After a second visit (business travel excluded) it’s difficult not to get a better impression.
I actually think you said it best in your reply to Stephanie’s comment. Usually it is only moments or certain situations that we hate and if we stick around we soon find these negative instances turn positive once again.
In ten years of traveling I don’t think there is anywhere that I have hated. There’s plenty of places I haven’t enjoyed so much, but overall, if one is really searching for cultural interaction, then both the positive and the negative experiences are part of the ride…
I kept trying to remember a specific place I hated as I wrote this (when I was having a moment of not enjoying a place) but only was coming up with specific moments – many of them tied to my mood or a particular bad circumstance.
I can remember arriving in Thailand the first time, after 3 months in India, and being really disappointed in how Westernized it was. It was my stock response for several years that Thailand was lame and spoiled. But I love the place now. And it’s almost certainly me that has changed. Then I was looking for a very authentic Asian experience and now the mix of west and east make for something really rewarding and fun.
I used to love huge cities but lately enjoy spending time in smaller ones. My list of favorite cities years ago was all huge metropolises but now there would be plenty of small towns on the list.
I was about 10 times as grumpy as Oscar could ever be when I was in Kazakhstan. After getting shook down by the police I couldn’t wait to leave. We were on the first train out of there. Unfortunately, I let my grump cloud my perception of an entire country, and I have heard many people say that Kazakhstan is beautiful, but also the same people say they still hated it. It’s always hit or miss.
Grouchier than Oscar? Must have been *really* bad then. Oscar can’t even stand Sesame Street and the looks like a pretty good place to live. Except the whole trash can thing.
you’re definitely onto something, especially in your comment about places having different meanings at different ages.
I think other seemingly insignificant factors can really ruin an experience, too. For instance, I went to Amsterdam a few years ago. I spent two days and onyl one night there because my hotel room was so disgusting and horrible, because it seemed like there were drugs being sold everywhere…I saw enough, and drove into Belgium the next day. Amsterdam should have been an amazing experience, but I let the dumb hotel ruin it for me!
I’ve been to Amsterdam a few times and it’s hit or miss for me. In so many cities and visits though you’re right, it seems like mostly very individualize experiences can ruin your perceptions.
I didn’t like Bydapest at all and couldn’t wait to leave. It seemed everything went wrong – bad train trip, apartment we rented wasn’t what it was supposed to be.. clothes washer wasn’t working and I only found out after I covered the load with liquid soap – all the clothes I had! We had horrible service at a restaurant- Food wasn’t great, was expensive, and my beer took an hour to arrive. I was just grumpy!
Looking back at the pictures we have a lot of beautiful shots. But for some reason me and the city didn’t jive at all. It was out to get me!
Visiting a city is like so many personal relationships, you can work on it and try but sometimes it just doesn’t work out!
Travel taste really does change over time. When I first started traveling abroad 10 years ago I was excited to go to the ‘big, popular’ cities – Rome, Paris, Sydney – but then when I started traveling for a living, I found that my tastes changed to evolve to the obscure and less traveled. I found that I loved traveling in developing countries! I wonder how my taste will change next?!
Good thing you’re got your blog to document the changes. I’m sure it will be interesting to look back at the archives in a few years to see some old, old posts.
I guess there are many underlying factors why we end up enjoying or hating a place. Usually it has to do with expectations not being met but is that the place or country’s fault or our own? Who is really to blame — the locals or the traveller? I admit there are places in NZ that I don’t enjoy visiting Queenstown being one of them, Auckland coming in a fast second, and almost any other tourist focused area. But I can see these places for what they have become compared with what they were years ago. Like you said it is okay to say your opinions about a place and it’s okay not to enjoy every place you visited. No-one can truely claim they have loved every town,city,village,country they have visited and who would want to. That statement becomes passe after a while.
I think it comes down to the traveler – not liking a place is so subjective it’s tough to quantify. I’m convinced that almost any place can be considered a good place to visit, if even for a short time during a long stay.
I don’t mind people hating or loving a place, all I want is that if they have been there, to really have BEEN THERE and experienced it.
So many people travel the world through their camera lens, they’re not actually there experiencing it. What’s the point then?
I guess that varies too. Some people would love a place for example if they only stayed in a resort while for others it would be torture (or at least missing out).
Hi Anil, nicely written post. I haven’t traveled much to have places I hate, but there have been places I liked less relative to others. Some experiences are hard to undo, but often the individual can take control of situations and seize the day.
Hi Priyank, I’m the same. I can’t hold grudges so at worst I’ll have a moment or two where I don’t like somewhere. Like you say though, anyone who has the luxury of traveling should appreciate it, not everyone has the opportunity!
You’re right it’s so subjective. Like Sherry, I’ve found myself becoming allergic to the most popular destinations and the crowds that go with them – Rome & Paris spring to mind although I hear everyone raving about their magic.
Weather has so much to do with it for me – when the sun’s shining and the sky’s blue, my mood lifts and everything seems fun and exciting
I don’t notice the effect of weather on my moods until that first semi-warm day as winter is ending. Then I just can’t stand going back to cold…