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D is for Disappointing Destinations!

First, my apologies. I got so busy with trips to Rotterdam, Sevilla and Madrid and now I’m currently in Hamburg that I have literally no time to update the blog. But I’ve been updating live via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter you should just follow me there if you’re not following yet. Why the slowness? Well, I’m such a perfectionist I wanted to publish totally useful stuff for this series and I may or may not kill myself in the process. Thanks for hanging in there though.

Anyway. I am dealing with a very sensitive topic here. Note that these are based on my OWN experiences and how I feel after visiting almost 150 European cities in the last 5 years. And: I DON’T hate these cities. I was disappointed with them. Two very different things.

Some European cities are more a I-wanna-get-out-of-here-asap or meh-so-disappointing than a must-see. Let’s get down to it shall we?

 

1. Katowice, Poland

Katowice Poland

European Capital of Culture 2016? Please God. NO.

Why its disappointing? Looks gray and depressing.

I know, I know. You probably don’t even know where it is. And that’s for good reasons. You don’t need to know and you don’t need to go there. The city is fugly, gray and depressing. I lived in Poland for almost 2 years so I vowed to see as much of the country as possible. So I checked out Katowice. The first time I visited I already did not feel nice about the city. I arrived at possibly one of the most depressing train stations in the world. (Although now they already opened a new one). I didn’t feel any love for the city after going around. It’s just not for me.

The second (and hopefully the last) time was a night spent in Katowice while I was in transit to Greece. I hanged out with two Polish guys I met via Couchsurfing and obviously bottles of vodka were consumed. The vodka and the company saved me from killing myself for being back here again. Don’t even.

 

2. Tallinn, Estonia

food breakfast tallinn estonia

This fabulous breakfast cost 15 euros. I can’t.

Why it’s disappointing? It sucks in winter. Try going in the summer.

Sure I visited the city in the winter when my friends and I decided to take the cruise boat from Stockholm. I had a long story about how I never made it to Tallinn the other winter which involved visas – AS USUAL (damn you Filipino passport) – even if I was already living in Europe. Let’s not start talking about damn visas.

I pushed for a trip to Tallinn the next winter. Only to learn why Dear Universe never wanted me to go there in the first place anyway: it was boring and super uninteresting. At least in the winter. The only thing I remember is eating an expensive breakfast in the Town Square and it may or may not be the worst breakfast I have ever paid for in my life. I’m saying this because Tallinn, like Warsaw where I pay 5 euros for food in the city center, is a cheap destination and paying this much for shit breakfast is just MEH.

 

3. Oslo, Norway

Vigeland park statues oslo

It cost 100 euros per night to squeeze in this square meter with a dozen other people.

Why it’s disappointing? Beautiful but shockingly expensive.

Interestingly, I have spent three summers in Oslo usually after having a fun week at one of my favorite festivals in Europe, Hovefestivalen. Yes it’s beautiful like most Scandinavian cities. But what makes this city disappointing for me is that it is shockingly expensive. You’d think I’d get used to Scandinavian prices after living in Stockholm…

but NOOOOOOO. Nah ah.

Case in point: I paid almost 40 euros per night to stay at an 8-person dorm room in Anker Hostel in Oslo – supposedly the cheapest one in the city. I rarely stay in hostels because I am not a fan (they’re usually good and nice, it’s just not for me). But we had to stay at one while we were in Oslo because everything is just expensive. I was traveling with 3 other friends so imagine we paid 160 euros for this room and there were 4 more extra beds? That could pay for a 5-star hotel room in other European cities already. So yes Oslo is disappointing in that it’s not really good value for money specially if you’re on a tight budget.

 

4. Paris, France

I will throw these heart-shaped cakes to the next blagger who will write another "Paris is so romantic" post.

I will throw these heart-shaped cakes to the next blagger who will write another “Paris is so romantic” post.

Why it’s disappointing? Very high expectations. It’s not your fault Paris.

Ah, Paris. A bit shocking that I would list the city here don’t you think? How glamorous! How romantic! How (insert cliche description of Paris here)! For a lot of people, Paris is the quintessential embodiment of glitzy and glamorous travel. But I’m sorry to say that the postcard Paris that we know is pretty but also pretty trashy. As soon as I arrived, I was shocked at how many sketchy people are hanging out at the metro station. I did not expect this. I expected fashionable people running for the train before it leaves.

I also felt unsafe because one guy followed me in the train and I caught him staring at me a lot of times. I would know if he was giving me the sexy looks. This was definitely NOT that. I don’t know what he was up to but my instinct was giving me the red flag so I got off at another station just to lose him. I did not expect to feel unsafe in Paris.

Also, I was there on Valentines Day and sorry but I did not feel the romantic vibes of the city. More like grey and cold to be honest. I’m sick of people writing how romantic Paris is. It can be romantic but Paris can be a lot of things too. Don’t get your expectations too high and I think you’ll enjoy the city. I do like Paris now and have visited the city again and had a great time. Just go easy on the Hollywood/glossy magazine expectation of Paris.

 

5. Brugges, Belgium

Brugges Belgium summer

I’m sure these people felt all the magic in Brugges.

Why it’s disappointing? No magical moments for me here.

My best friend, Marian, who traveled for 3 months in Europe before I did, raved about this quaint and medieval city, Brugges. She told me how it was one of her favorite cities. How amazing and magical the place was. So of course I made it as one of my must-go destinations.

Unfortunately, when I visited the city three Easters ago with my friends Manon and Javier, I was not impressed. Sure it was a postcard perfect pitstop but the place was just teeming with tourists and this was not yet peak season. I didn’t feel the magic my friend was talking about at all. If you’re heading to Belgium, my favorites are Ghent and Antwerp. And although a lot of people are shitting on Brussels, I actually like it too.

 

6. Vilnius, Lithuania

food vilnius lithuania

At least the food is delicious and cheap in Vilnius.

Why it’s disappointing? Miserable people according to Tom.

This one was contributed by my blogger friend Tom of Waegook Tom. He says: “I’d looked forward to visiting Vilnius, Lithuania’s capital, due to its depiction of being a city full of beauty and, indeed, Vilnius was pretty. But that’s where the city’s good points end for me. A lot of people comment on the attitude of eastern Europeans, but it didn’t bother me when I travelled in the region – until I got to Vilnius.

Service went from disinterested (which I can handle) to flat out rude. Ladies working in supermarkets literally threw change at old ladies, and tutted loudly when the women had to scramble on the floor to pick up their money. The only smile I saw was from a guy working in the tourist information centre – even my CouchSurfing host was miserable. Add in the unforgivable food, and you have my most hated city in Europe.”

(DJ: I’ve visited Vilnius twice in the summer and I liked it. But that’s because I was traveling with amazing friends.)

What cities/countries have disappointed you in your travels? Why?

This post is part of The A to Z of European Travel series. Don’t miss any post by subscribing to my newsletter (it’s on the sidebar on the right). Remember that you can participate by sharing on social media, commenting or emailing your eurotrip questions.

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DJ Yabis is the poster boy of Dream Euro Trip and a modern day renaissance man. He loves throwing dinner parties and stalking rock stars in music festivals. Subscribe or follow his adventures LIVE on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or . Learn how to plan your own eurotrip.

What do you think?

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57 Responses to “6 Most Disappointing Destinations in Europe. You will hate me for #4.” Subscribe

  1. Mr.B June 19, 2014 at 7:43 AM #

    Hæ Yabis,

    I’d like to make a comment only about three cities:

    Tallinn – I think all three Baltic countries has this sad-winter-mode and very active summer time. So it is not strange that you felt bored and uninspired in Tallinn. By the way, there are also seasonal dishes that you missed out in winter time.

    Vilnius – It’s funny that you mentioned about cashiers, because every time I visit Lithuania I also have this feeling of being mistreated by mean staff. It’s probably because these people have very low wages or still affected by soviet-era. It’s nothing personal.

    Paris – I never had a dream to visit Paris, but my girlfriend wanted to. Before I stepped my feet close to the Eiffel Tower and other mainstream attractions, I knew that everything would be overrated. So I totally I agree, Paris is not a place to go. There are hundreds of other places that are more romantic and less tourists.

    • DJ Yabis June 28, 2014 at 7:31 PM #

      Hi Mr B, thanks for chiming in. Yeah it’s probably the soviet-era thing still. Kinda get this kind of service in most of Eastern Europe. Don’t even get me started with Poland where I used to live.

  2. Kathi June 10, 2014 at 5:09 PM #

    Hope you enjoyed Hamburg more. :)

  3. Mags June 10, 2014 at 11:40 AM #

    My heart sank when I read Oslo on the list. I’m going for the first time next week. I got what I think was a pretty good deal on a hotel though ($150/night at the Radisson Blu Plaza… Thanks Hotwire!) and I’m only there for two days, so hopefully I can’t do too much damage in that time. I visited Stockholm a few years ago and was rather disappointed by that. Brugges is definitely on my list though. Sad to hear it disappoints. I’ve always heard great things.

  4. Victoria June 5, 2014 at 1:22 PM #

    Brilliant piece. For me one of the most disappointing places to go to was Singapore.
    After travelling to Thailand, Indonesia and Hong Kong, I was expecting more of the same, but it wasn’t to be. People were enormously easy to talk to and hang out with in other Asian countries, but not so Singapore. It was the only place where the people weren’t warm. Oh, and it was too modern for my taste.

    That was 15 years ago so perhaps it would be different now, but I’m not in a hurry LOL!

    • DJ Yabis June 6, 2014 at 4:09 AM #

      Ha. I kind of agree. I call Singapore SingaBORE :D

  5. Terry at Overnight New York June 3, 2014 at 6:37 AM #

    You’ve got a great discussion going, DJ. A nice, provocative idea for a post. (I love Paris most of the time, btw.)

  6. Michael Orobona May 31, 2014 at 6:10 AM #

    My list of disappointing places in Europe:
    1. Chernobyl
    2. anywhere with Soviet-style housing
    3. pay-for-use bathrooms
    4. any McDonalds
    5. the Colossus of Rhodes
    6. the second letter “e.” It’s a bit redundant.

    • DJ Yabis June 2, 2014 at 5:22 AM #

      Bahahaha. I love those double e’s and a’s!

  7. kami May 27, 2014 at 5:58 PM #

    I’m surprised why you even wanted to go to Katowice… apparently there’re some nice old industrial areas but I haven’t discovered them yet, and I’ve been to Katowice at least 20 times. It’s just not the city you go to for tourist reasons.

    I love Vilnius, but probably because I have some awesome friends there. And well, I just have to agree about Paris.

    • DJ Yabis May 28, 2014 at 5:59 AM #

      It was more a transit city for me more than anything else. I also enjoyed Vilnius mostly because of the friends I was travelign with :D

  8. Micki May 27, 2014 at 9:31 AM #

    Ah, I’ve never been to Oslo, but I have to agree about the price. One of my flight itineraries in Europe had originally booked for a night in Oslo, but after finding out it would cost a minimum of around 100 Euro for a room for 4 (with a shared washroom!) plus train fare, we decided to skip our overnight. It’s too bad, I’ve heard the city is quite lovely.

    • DJ Yabis May 27, 2014 at 10:37 AM #

      That overnight would cost you 200 euros haha.

  9. Mary @Green Global Travel May 26, 2014 at 11:21 PM #

    Interesting list. We leave for Norway at the end of the week and are concerned with costs based on everything we’ve read. 160 Euros for 4 people and you had to stay with 4 strangers – yikes! Fortunately, we’ll be staying in small towns instead of Oslo so I’m hoping there is a chance we can avoid major sticker shock.

    • DJ Yabis May 27, 2014 at 10:37 AM #

      Big or small city, it’s still expensive in Norway! haha. You would think its cheaper in smaller cities/towns but sometimes its even more expensive than the big city. Hopefully you’ll find it not too shocking.

  10. Lillie May 25, 2014 at 12:15 PM #

    Ooo… Interesting and scandalous list!

  11. Travelogged May 25, 2014 at 9:10 AM #

    Hmm.. I”ve been wanting to go to Tallinn, Vilnius and Brugges… But I probably won’t get there for a while. So this post made me feel better that I’m not missing out on much.

    • DJ Yabis May 27, 2014 at 10:34 AM #

      Yep. You’re not missing much. Go to Antwerp or Ghent, it’s better. I love Riga in the Baltics. :D

  12. Penny Sadler May 24, 2014 at 11:45 PM #

    Most experiences are colored by our own perceptions. That said, if you don’t like a place, you don’t like it. Not a big deal. I’m not surprised about Paris. I’ve not been there, but I have a feeling I better go with someone amazing or it’s not going to a good experience for me. I’ll stick to Italy!

  13. Matthew Hirtes May 24, 2014 at 2:57 AM #

    I was disappointed in Madrid on my first visit. Subsequent visits have failed to mend our relationship. Would now prefer to discover other Spanish cities I haven’t been to yet rather than risk more heartbreak.

    • DJ Yabis May 27, 2014 at 10:33 AM #

      Oh no. I just fell in love with Madrid on my visit there this May.

  14. Tom @ Waegook Tom May 23, 2014 at 10:43 AM #

    Thanks for featuring me here! Vilnius disappointed me so much. I don’t know if it’s because it was on the tail-end of a trip where I’d been blown away by Prague and Gdansk, but it let me down. The people were so unforgivably rude, though. I can handle disinterested, but not actively rude.

    I visited in winter, but would like to visit in summer, and see more of Lithuania. The residents of most capital cities usually tend to have a bit more attitude than those who live in secondary cities, so it’d be nice to what the atmosphere in smaller places like Kaunas and Klaipeda is like.

    • DJ Yabis May 27, 2014 at 10:32 AM #

      You’re welcome dear. Prague and Gdansk are lovely! Summer for sure is better. I’ve always wanted to go to Klaipeda.

  15. Daniel M May 23, 2014 at 9:50 AM #

    You forgot Milan and Brussels!

    Milan: expensive, dull, soulless

    Brussels: grey,dreary, ugly, insane tension and contempt between French- and Dutch-speakers.

    • DJ Yabis May 27, 2014 at 10:31 AM #

      Currently in Milan! My friend’s sister calls it the armpit of Europe :D

  16. Kristen May 22, 2014 at 8:42 PM #

    Oh my goodness. THANK YOU for writing this post! Thank God that someone can be honest about the cities they’ve visited. However… I was tracking with you down until Paris – WHAT? Disappointing? Don’t make me virtually pelt you with macarons! Paris is ah-may-ZING. I had the most smashing time there. But I think you hit the nail on the head – expectations are pretty much everything when it comes to travel. So if you expected a lot from Paris… well, yeah, you might have overshot the glamor a wee-bit. Try it again! And please – DON’T visit on Valentines Day, ugh. Visit in the middle of the summer and eat crepes and fancy cheese and drink yourself happy.

    • DJ Yabis May 22, 2014 at 9:12 PM #

      I did go back in the summer and loved it. I was just disappointed on my first experience with Paris. :D

  17. Hitch-Hikers Handbook May 22, 2014 at 6:20 PM #

    Interesting and discussion-provoking post. I come from one of the places you listed and have been to all the others apart from number 5, so I feel I have the right to express my opinion.

    Firstly, Katowice, my home town :) I absolutely agree with you that it’s the last tourist destinations you should have on your list. As you said, it’s grey, depressing and boring, but you said it disappointed you. What did you expect? I can’t remember seeing it glorified in any guidebook or tourist brochure. Well, maybe apart from calling it “The City of Gardens” (wtf?) for the European Capital of Culture 2016 competition.

    Ok, so I do agree with you on that. But calling Oslo disappointing because it’s expensive? Again: what did you expect? It’s Norway, one of the most expensive countries in the world and Oslo is its capital so don’t expect budget prices. I absolutely love Norway (lived there back in 2009) and Oslo, and would never complain about its prices as for me it’s absolutely worth it!

    Paris being sketchy. Right. France can be sketchy (I lived in Toulouse and some parts of it were also dodgy). Paris is a big city and you can expect some dodgy types in all big cities I suppose, so this argument doesn’t speak to me.

    I would personally add Sofia (Bulgaria) to the list. We’d heard many good things about it but when we got there we found it grey, concrete, ugly and boring.

    Horses for courses, I suppose. Nice piece, anyway. Thanks!

    • DJ Yabis May 22, 2014 at 6:46 PM #

      Ha. Thanks for speaking up about Katowice!

      Well I like Oslo, dont get me wrong. I expected it to be expensive but I was shocked how expensive things are there. And I;ve lived in Stockholm so I know Scandinavian prices.

      As for Paris, it seems like a lot of my readers agree about it being sketchy and dirty. The thing is most people have very high expectations of Paris so when they arrive and get confronted by the sketchy people in the metro and seeing dirty areas they are disappointed. We expect Paris to be fabulous and everything glamorous which is not the city’s fault. :D

      Thanks for speaking up.

  18. Anna May 22, 2014 at 6:12 PM #

    Katowice is very grey indeed… but it’s caused by the fact that the city wasn’t really destroyed during the WW2 therefore didn’t have to be rebuilt.
    Tho you can eat ‘krupniok’ there – have you tried it?

  19. Wandering Carol May 22, 2014 at 3:22 PM #

    I’ve had a personal battle with Paris for many years. I kept trying to move there and either couldn’t find a place to live or I’d get sick or it rained every day and was depressing and I finally gave up. Now that I’m not trying to live there (and have accepted my love of champagne in luxury hotels) we have made peace with each other. I went alone on Valentine’s Day and had a hilarious night because all the other lonely travellers were trying to meet people. You should have gone to Shakespeare’s bookstore. Fun post!

    • DJ Yabis May 22, 2014 at 6:49 PM #

      Haha I would tots join for champagne in luxury hotels :D I love the Shakepeare bookstore and bought a few books there last time. :D

  20. Cat of Sunshine and Siestas May 22, 2014 at 2:41 PM #

    I have lived in Europe for nearly seven years and have traveled to loads of cities. I’ve never gotten why everyone loves London and Barcelona, and thought Brussels had little to do but drink. Wasn’t a big fan of Frankfurt, either, but didn’t expect to be!

    Surprises for me were Bratislava, Cologne, Edinburgh and pretty much all of Romania!

    • Marie May 22, 2014 at 4:49 PM #

      DJ thanks for the tip. Am in UK now and I have 3 of those cities you mentioned in my itinerary….we’ll see. Now I know what to expect and see if I will have the same problems. Nakasta pemba ya weather sangaw! Will let you know. Ciao – Marie

      • DJ Yabis May 22, 2014 at 6:48 PM #

        Haha well at least you know what to expect now. I’m sure you’ll enjoy them somehow anyway. Which cities?

    • DJ Yabis May 22, 2014 at 6:51 PM #

      I think it’s because this cities get so much press that people romanticize so much about these cities. I love Cologne too and people there are nicer than Berliners. I have yet to check out Bratislava and Edinburgh. Some people are saying Bratislava should also be on this list. LOL

    • Terry at Overnight New York June 3, 2014 at 6:34 AM #

      Oh gee, I lived in London for four years and adored it. It was like a slower New York with a lower skyline. And when it got too English, Glasgow was a hop away on a train or plane.

  21. Josh Lim May 22, 2014 at 12:12 PM #

    DJ, with all do respect, I will have to disagree with you on Tallinn and Vilnius. Having gone there myself in the middle of winter (and also on my Filipino passport :P), the two cities are quite interesting in their own right, and I strongly encourage you to go back to them again. ;)

    • Josh Lim May 22, 2014 at 12:12 PM #

      That should be “due”. Meh, spellchecker. -.-

    • DJ Yabis May 22, 2014 at 6:54 PM #

      I’ve been to Vilnius twice in the summer. It’s okay. It feels village-y and cute. I enjoyed my trip there because of the people I was with more than anything else. As for Tallinn, I’ll probably try to go again in the summer but it’s not very high on my list right now. :D

  22. Jo Karnaghan May 22, 2014 at 11:19 AM #

    You should never apologize for not liking a place. It’s your trip and you’ve paid for it, so if it’s not to your taste you are entitled to say so. I’m pleased you did give Paris a second chance – it’s my favorite!

    • DJ Yabis May 22, 2014 at 7:21 PM #

      Yep. I enjoyed Paris very much on my 2nd visit. Just very disappointed on my first visit. Although I enjoyed the company I was with.

  23. Casey @ A Cruising Couple May 22, 2014 at 3:14 AM #

    Interesting list! Really surprised to see Brugges on it though- I’ve only heard good things about it! Headed there in just a few day myself so then I guess we’ll see :) I love Paris though, personally, as long as I can stay away from the fellow tourists :)

    • DJ Yabis May 22, 2014 at 5:15 AM #

      I hope you’ll find the magic when you are there :D

  24. Els May 22, 2014 at 1:37 AM #

    Being from Belgium, I agree with you that Bruges is overrated. It is pretty indeed, but it looks like a museum-city. Gent and Antwerp are indeed just as nice and much more lively!

  25. Tracey - Life Changing Year May 21, 2014 at 9:43 PM #

    So agree with you on Paris. While I liked it, I didn’t love it. I too thought fashionable people would be everywhere and I imagined clean avenues with artists everywhere. The reality was us dodging dog poop at every turn as we walked through dirty streets that weren’t remotely romantic! We saw one very fashionable lady in a bright red dress and high heels. She walked past us in an underground tunnel leading away from the train and proceeded to squat over a drain and relieve herself! I don’t need to visit again for quite a while!

    • DJ Yabis May 21, 2014 at 10:48 PM #

      OMG that is quite a story with the lady haha. So classy!

  26. AC | iwandered.net May 21, 2014 at 8:48 PM #

    Haven’t been to most cities in this list, except for Paris!

    But the one European city that really disappointed me was – Bratislava!

    • DJ Yabis May 21, 2014 at 8:56 PM #

      HAHA. So random. What was so disappointing about it?

  27. Raphael Alexander Zoren May 21, 2014 at 8:33 PM #

    I definitely agree about Brugges! Objectively pretty but just plain boring to my taste. It’s like being in the Disneyland version of Belgium.

  28. Eleonora May 21, 2014 at 8:32 PM #

    Happy to not see any Italian places ;)

    • DJ Yabis May 21, 2014 at 8:56 PM #

      HAHA. Italy has never disappointed me so far!

    • Sheyi May 22, 2014 at 5:41 PM #

      Would love to visit Italy come one day.

      Will you host me?

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