Whenever someone asks me for travel advice or even if they don’t but I hear they are travelling and I offer my unsolicited opinion, my message remains the same. Go off the beaten path, find whee the locals go, get lost, have an adventure, avoid tourist traps, ect… I tend to roll my eyes when I hear plans to go to Disneyland (why no, I don’t have kids, why do you ask?) or scoff under my breath when I hear someone rave about Madame Tussaud in any various city. That isn’t the real (insert random city here), I think, they are missing out. But what if, just what if some tourist traps are worth it? What if I missed out by avoiding such hot spots? I am sure sometimes I have, Sometimes I have tried it and been very disappointed (ahem Temple Bar) and other times, wow I am so thankful I did! So here are my top fave must do tourist traps.
5.Musee D’Orsay. 1 Rue de la Légion d’Honneur, Paris http://www.musee-orsay.fr/en/home.html. Both cheaper and less time consuming than the Louvre, Musee d’Orsay is located in the former Gare d’Orsay and is simply the best place to view the art of the Impressionists. Though the Louvre offers a wider variety of art, the Musee d’Orsay showcases the wide range of Impressionist art. Here you can gaze on art from Manet, Monet, Renior, Van Gogh, Sisley, and Degas. They also prominently feature the Women Impressionist Mary Cassatt, and Berthe Morisot as well as lesser known artists. The collections are featured in separate rooms making the layout easy to follow (ahem Tate Modern).It is very busy but less crowed than the Louvre and you can get up quite close to the paintings As well it offers a stunning view of the Sacre Couer. A must do for an art lover or not!
4. Leaning Tower of Pisa. Pisa Italy. http://www.opapisa.it/en/ Of all the super touristy places to visit, the Leaning Tower of Pisa was definitely very very low on my list.
I have seen countless pictures of friends pretending to hold the tower up and thought to myself How boring and uninspiring it looks. However finding myself in Pisa in 2014, We decided we would at least go see the Tower, but we would not under any circumstances take our picture there. 37 pictures later, we were awestruck at just how stunningly beautiful the Tower actually is.The design is intricate, it is well kept and really rather breathtaking. Don’t miss the Duomo in the same grounds. Side note, the grounds are also stunning but it is very busy. Also whatever you do, don’t eat near the tower, you will pay more and no doubt be disappointed with your food. tourist sites are not a foodie’s friend.
3. The Holocaust Memorial Berlin. http://www.stiftung-denkmal.de/startseite.html Berlin’s history, wow where do you even start? The wall? World War II? The Rise Of Nazi Germany? The Reichstag? Weimer Republic,? Brandenburg gate? Einstein? Frederik I? Berlin can almost seem overwhelming and its history in the 20th Century is both a celebration human triumph and great sadness, anger and depression at the worst of humanity. Berlin, there was so much to do.
Visit Potsdamer Platz, at one time no mans land behind the wall in East Berlin, now shiny new buildings, highlighting Berlin’s affluence. But the Holocaust Memorial created by Peter Eisenman a Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe located on the former no mans land that divided the city is a definite. Upon first seeing the memorial, it looks like just a bunch of concrete slabs, and it is but it is so much more than that. No one slab is the same and as you walk through the memorial, it’s truly haunting. the surface dips and rises and it is difficult to see people. it gives the sense that once you see someone, you may not see them again. Coming out of the memorial, I as shaken but ever so glad I pursued it. It is incredibly sad but a must do for its promotion of remembrance and humanity.
2. Top Of the Rock New York City.https://www.topoftherocknyc.com/ New York City is so full of things to do, I am not sure I could ever see everything I wanted to see. So well meaning friends told me “You have o do Top of the Rock, its the best!” I was dubious. So you want me to spend my precious New York Time, taking an elevator to the top of a building at 30 Rockefeller Center? Why?? But I did it anyhow if only because I forced Ben to do a snl tour with me that unfortunately made me look more like a stalker than a fan and we thought … since we are here… The views are simply amazing. You can see all the landmarks, the park and the rivers. Now when people go to New York, I do tell them “you have to do Top of the Rock”. Definitely avoid eating near 30 Rock though, New York is a food heaven but you won’t find it at 30 Rock or even worse Time Square. It is worth it to have a drink by the 30 Rock, even if it is overpriced, the people watching is amazing, even if you don’t see Seth Meyers.
If you are hungry, head over to 3rd Avenue for some better food options. there are many amazing restaurant. One of which was a Mexican restaurant who’s name escapes me but served delicious food and drinks. The service was amazing, as was the patio, which I had to abandon as a pigeon walked near me. When Ben finally found me inside after returning from the washroom, he figured out what happened. ‘Where’s my wallet and phone?” he asked. I didn’t know, after all a pigeon walked by me. Exasperated he found his wallet and phone still on the table and then sat down to enjoy a Mexican mezcal, no doubt needed by then. ( Moral of the story, do tourist stuff but go off the beaten path to eat and don’t forget wallets when fleeing evil pigeons).
- Tower of London http://www.hrp.org.uk/tower-of-london/ . Legend says that the kingdom and the Tower will fall if the six resident ravens ever leave the fortress. The ravens, with their clipped wings are just one of the many reasons to visit the Tower of London. Though the Tower is home to some of England’s darker history, it is well well worth the visit. Seeing the site where Anne Boleyn was beheaded was chilling, both literally and figuratively.
We also got to visit Walter Scott’s prison apartment, view traitors gate, pose with the Beefeater, see the Crown jewels and generally get a clear understanding of some of England’s most famous historical moments. Unlike my previous posts… eat at the Tower, the restaurant is amazing.
So my take away is, if you are traveling, sometimes, just sometimes, a tourist trap can be worth it and you will absolutely love that you took the opportunity. Just maybe take the chance (but then do something off the beaten path).