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From New York to Prague: Nine places tourists love that I don't

Traveller logo Traveller 16/05/2018 Ben Groundwater

Woman reading map. © Shutterstock Woman reading map. I'm willing to have my mind changed; I'm happy to be proved wrong. That's the first thing I want to stress.

Because I don't bear any ill will towards any of the following destinations. I don't hate them. I don't even dislike them. It's just I've never felt the same about these places as other people seem to. I've never quite figured out what the fascination is.

These are the places every traveller seems to absolutely love, but I just don't get. I've never seen the things that other people see. I've never felt the same things they obviously feel.

These aren't bad places. They aren't even places I would discourage others from going. I just don't love them as much as I should.

Prague, Czech Republic

Prague is a lovely place, don't get me wrong. I like the Charles Bridge, I enjoy strolling the old town. But people obsess over this city, they declare it's the best place they've ever been. Maybe that's because Prague used to seem so adventurous, as people began exploring the Eastern Bloc for the first time, but surely that sense of discovery has long since passed. Now you're left with a fairly touristy city that's super popular with the stag-do crowd. That doesn't always equal a good time.

Bangkok, Thailand

Yes, the food in Bangkok is great. But you need more than tasty cuisine to justify the way some people seem to feel about the Thai capital. It might be the bad experiences I've had there: Bangkok is the only place in the world where I've had several cab drivers brazenly try to rip me off, even after I've called them on it; and there's all the usual backpacker-targeted scams there as well. Add in oppressive heat and humidity, and you're starting to understand why I've never totally fallen for this place.

Are we having fun yet? Wenceslas Square, Prague. © Alamy Are we having fun yet? Wenceslas Square, Prague. Casablanca, Morocco

There's a certain romance to the idea of Casablanca that doesn't necessarily translate to the actual experience of being there. Yes, this port city has a long and fascinating history, but Morocco's largest settlement feels fairly bland, particularly when you compare it to the likes of Fes, Marrakech, and even Tangiers. Casablanca is modern and cosmopolitan, dynamic and rich – but maybe not the greatest place for tourists.

New York, USA

I like New York; really, I do. But I know travellers who keep going back here year after year, people who have little interest in going anywhere else, such is their love for the Big Apple. I've never felt quite so strongly about it. I've enjoyed my time in New York. I've seen and done some pretty great things. But it's never captured my heart in the same way as, say, Tokyo or Rome. What am I missing?

Shanghai, China

People love Shanghai. They love the dynamism, they love the growth. They love the trendy bars and the big shopping malls. They love the skyscrapers. To me though, Shanghai lacks character. I just see the old neighbourhoods being bulldozed to make way for more shiny high-rises and I feel sorry for Shanghai, like its obsession with all things shiny and new will one day feel like a mistake.

Jaipur, India

It's probably not Jaipur's fault. This is the place most people go to be swept up in the romance of Rajasthan, to see the forts and the festivals, to soak up the colour and the life. During my time in Jaipur, though, all I got was hassle from touts, and I was almost sucked into a jewellery smuggling scam. Your love for a place tends to wane once you're trying to escape from a jewellery store in a back alley in the middle of who-knows-where.

The Amazon, South America

This is one of the world's natural wonders, a huge tract of forest spanning nine countries, filled with uncountable flora and fauna the likes of which you've never seen before and are unlikely to ever see again. And yet, I don't love the Amazon. It's just so humid and sweaty. I'm not built for a climate like that. Plus wildlife viewing in the jungle is very often obscured by… the jungle. Give me mountains or ocean any day.

Taipei, Taiwan

Again, this is not Taipei's fault. I'm aware there is some extremely good food in the Taiwanese capital, and some extremely fun places in which to eat it. The trouble is the only time I've been here was on a press trip accompanied by 40 other journalists from around the world and the whole thing was kind of a nightmare. Whenever I hear stories of Taipei's greatness, I can't help but look back on that trip and wonder what the fuss is about.

Bali, Indonesia

As mentioned in a separate column recently, I've never felt much of a pull to visit Bali, which is also why I've never come to love it in the same way so many other people do. One day I'll hopefully be proved wrong. For now, however, I can just say I'm not much of a fan.

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