A traveler’s list of the top ten tourism disappointments

Travel is an exercise in discovery, but sometimes the things we anticipate the most fail to live up to expectations. Here's a list of ten and the reasons why. Photo: Heath Alexander

CHARLOTTESeptember 22, 2012 – Curious travelers always want to visit famous sights they have heard about all their lives, but sometimes such quests result in disappointment when a place fails to match its reputation.  

I have compiled my own list of eagerly anticipated treasures that failed to live up to their billing.  As a note of clarification, disillusionment is probably a better choice of words than disappointment. 

Here’s a list in alphabetical order. 

Capri and the Bay of Naples

 1. The Alamo – The onetime mission and fortress is today a museum in San AntonioTexas.  Though the history of the battle is impressive, the larger-than-life story is overshadowed by the structure’s  modest size and downtown location.

 2. Bethlehem – One difficult aspect of traveling in Israel is getting a handle on the variety of religious sites. The manger scene of the birth of Christ is one such example.  Historians have made a general estimation of the location, but the exact site is unknown.  More unsettling, however, is that 180 degrees behind the entrance to the manger is a mosque which was certainly not there at the time of Jesus’ birth. 

Somehow that detracts from the aura of the destination.

 3. Island of Capri – All those exotic stories about Caligula, and others like him, conjure images of Roman decadence in a location surrounded by the sea and drenched in glorious Italian sunshine.  Although Capri is a gorgeous place, it is basically a shopping mall on an island.  Crowded with day-trippers and shoppers,Capri features congested streets and overpriced merchandise.

Channel Tunnel and Eurostar

 4. The Channel Tunnel — The 31.4 mile Channel Tunnel is one of the great architectural achievements in history.  Linking Folkestone in the United Kingdomwith Coquelles, Pas-de-Calais in France, high-speed Eurostar trains travel through the “Chunnel” in approximately twenty minutes. 

While the tunnel is an amazing accomplishment, the ride through the darkness from one side of the English Channel to the other is a non-event, which is the reason for being included on this list. 

5. Leaning Tower of Pisa – Unlike many other sites throughout Europe, Pisa failed to get the message about tacky vendors and junk dealers.  Pisa’s campanile, known as the Leaning Tower, is a worthwhile tourism site. 

The nearly 200-foot tower underwent restoration between 1990 and 2001 to reduce the degree to which the tower leans.  Unfortunately, there’s little else to do in Pisa except visit the tower.  When combined with the volume of sidewalk hawkers, it quickly becomes a “been-there-done-that” experience.

Copenhagen’s Little Mermaid is really little

 6.  The Little Mermaid – The operative word here is “little.”  The statue has been a symbol of the city of Copenhagen since it was unveiled in 1913.  The sculpture was a gift to honor the fairy tale written by native son Hans Christian Andersen.  But it’s the miniature size that creates the letdown. 

When seen in photographs, the Little Mermaid appears larger in scale than its actual dimensions.

 7.  London Bridge – We only have ourselves to blame for this one.  The original London Bridge is actually now in Lake Havasu, Arizona.  The people who bought it thought they were buying Tower BridgeNew London Bridge has replaced the one in Arizona, but there’s nothing distinctive about it.  

Head for the Tower of London and get a view of Tower Bridge and you will be pleasantly surprised. 

Mona Lisa by Da Vinci

 8. The Mona Lisa – It is the most recognized painting in the world.  Mona Lisa’ssmile has been the subject of speculation for hundreds of years.  Many experts believe it is the portrait of Lisa Gherardini, the wife of Francesco del Giocondo.  As with other members of this list, size matters, and the diminutive nature of the work leaves many visitors discussing its dimensions rather than its genius.

9. Plymouth Rock – William Bradford is said to have been the first of the Mayflower pilgrims to step ashore in 1620, and the site of Bradford’s monumental step has become an important American symbol. 

Truthfully, Plymouth Rock could be more accurately described as Plymouth Pebble.  Plymouth Rock shares the problem of diminished size with The Little Mermaid,  which minimizes its reputation.

10.  Pyramids — The Pyramids of Egypt have been around for nearly 5,000 years.  Little wonder they have been the focus of archaeological and historical curiosity for centuries.  Sadly, the hordes of beggars and street hawkers are more prevalent than flies on honey at the site. 

Though compassion is desirable, when a traveler yields to his emotions, there is no escaping the throngs that will surround him.  So prevalent and insistent are the

Plymouth Rock is more of a pebble

beggars that it becomes virtually impossible to enjoy the historic monuments that rise before you.


The destinations and attractions in this list are unquestionably worthy of their notoriety.  Unfortunately, outside influences have relegated many of them to little more than curiosities. 

The greatest joy of travel is discovery.  As someone once wrote, “every place is undiscovered until you discover it yourself.”  Take time to explore.  Absorb the world through your pores.  You may be amazed at what you “discover” for yourself.



Peabod is Bob Taylor, owner of Taylored Media Services in Charlotte, NC. Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club, which creates, and escorts customized tours to Switzerland, France and Italy for groups of 12 or more. Inquiries for groups can be made at Peabod@aol.com 

 Taylored Media has produced marketing videos for British Rail, Rail Europe, Switzerland Tourism, the Swedish Travel & Tourism Council, the Finnish Tourist Board, the Swiss Travel System and Japan Railways Group among others.

As author of The Century Club book, Peabod is now attempting to travel to 100 countries or more during his lifetime. To date he has visited 69 countries. Suggest someplace new for Bob to visit; if you want to know where he has been, check his list on Facebook. 

Bob plans to write a sequel to his book when he reaches his goal of 100 countries. He also played professional baseball for four years and was a sportscaster for 14 years at WBTV, the CBS affiliate in Charlotte.


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Bob Taylor

Bob Taylor has been travel writer for more than three decades. Following a career as an award winning sports producer/anchor, Taylor’s media production business produced marketing presentations for Switzerland Tourism, Rail Europe, the Finnish Tourist Board, Japan Railways Group, the Swedish Travel & Tourism Council and the Swiss Travel System among others. He is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com) and his goal is to visit 100 countries or more during his lifetime.


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