Which places changed your mind about them after visiting?

MARTINE

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I was dragged kicking and screaming to St Petersburg. I knew the palaces would be great, had a book on the hermitage that was well thumbed. But the thought of travelling there, the intimidating visa application process, wondering how safe it would be for family (5 people across 3 generations). Got there and realised I was right about the palaces and other historical places, but was blown away by the locals. They were unfailingly polite and helpful, very good with "sign" language. I so enjoyed the visit that I signed up to return the next year.

Have not been anywhere that I would not return to, although some would be in the category of do I need to having been there once.
Interesting about St Petersburg - I spent a week in each Moscow and St.P’s expecting to prefer latter over former but I found the reverse. Much less tourists in Moscow, stunned by the cleanliness, Art Deco buildings, fascinating history, underground stations and surprised by the great food. St Basil’s for me is the most loved icon of my travels and thanks to the most lovely woman on reception at the Four Seasons she upgraded us to a suite with magic view. St P’s is so much more crowded w the daily 30000 cruise tourists and even though I stayed less than 100m from Hermitage it was impossible to avoid crowds at any time of day to appreciate the art. Beautiful buildings -yes - great history and art and loved Church of spilt blood/faberge museum and especially Peterhof
So loved both but preferred Moscow.
I’ll always remember our guide who had a fascinating life as a diplomatic interpreter (even had time in Australia). She pointed out the old KGB buildino and reminded us of the old Russian saying . ‘ even in the basement you get a beautiful view of Siberia’😂😂😂😂
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I thought that I remembered a lot of graffiti but thought that perhaps I was having some selective memories and being a bit unfair- obviously not.
It’s cough literally and figuratively
 

Daver6

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Perth - looks great in a postcard but the CBD is still a dump and the new waterfront development is an ugly concrete wind tunnel. Food is still average, coffee worse and you still pay 1.5 times Melbourne prices! Honestly it’s my least favourite capital to visit.

(PS I do love Freeo though, much better food and coffee, vibe and people)

I have no idea why the people in WA support St Marko in keeping the diseased eastern riff raff out... (tongue firmly in cheek) :)
 
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jakeseven7

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I have no idea why the people in WA support St Marko in keeping the diseased eastern riff raff out... (tongue firmly in cheek) :)

I grew up in Perth so that qualifies me to be pretty neutral in my assessment of it being Australia’s most disappointing capital given I really should be defending it…I’m embarrassed of it when it boils down to it!
 

drron

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There are 4 travel experiences that have changed my way of travel.The first 2 were things that mrsdrron wanted to do that I really didn't look forward to.
The first was the USA.Growing up in the 50s we were all British to our boot heels.We sang Rule Britannia,Land of hope and Glory and many other such pieces.I truly detested what I imagined the culture of the USA was.In 1981 mrsdrron convinced me to travel to San Francisco for the Annual conference of the American college of Physicians.It turned out to be a wonderful experience.First because a lot of the conference dealt with a new disease -HIV.
The second revelation was how I was treated by Americans who were acknowledged leaders in their field.In Australia Specialists in the Capital cities generally look down on the regional and rural colleagues who they regard as being there as they were not good enough to get a teaching hospital appointmentThe Americans though generally praised you for being able to practice without all the whizz bang technology.

Then the American people most of whom were generally polite and willing to show you around.On that trip we also went to Las Vegas,New Orleans,Washington DC and Boston with a week driving to Maine and back.The further out of the big cities the friendlier they became.In Maine we made our first stop at the Taste of Maine restaurant.One of the few lobster restaurants open out of season.Now mrsdrron usually rang home about 8pm to check on how things were going at work.No mobiles etc then.She had to use the public phone in the lobby.When she came back in I was sitting with the other 8 customers.As she came to the table they all asked her how things were going back home.I was sitting next to an Admiral on holidays from Florida.
So the USA was all I thought it was.Crowded,gaudy and over commercialised but it all fitted into place and we both fell in love with the place.I don't know how many trips we have had there but we have slept in all 50 states.

The second was cruising.It was something I never wanted to do.But mrsdrron was smart and booked a cruise on an 8 passenger converted crab boat on the Inside Passage,Alaska.Still one of my most memorable trips.Having a humpback surface beside us whilst kayaking,eagles overhead with their catch of salmon,bears and absolutely fantastic food often with freshly caught Dunganess crab.I was hooked and now really enjoy cruising.

I will leave the other 2 examples until later.
 

kpc

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Casablanca. Wanted to visit because of the movie of the same name...I know it was not even filmed there. An absolute dump full of scam artists. Fez and Marrakech were only slightly better but won't be rushing back to Morocco again. Visited Venice 30+ years ago and hated it...should I give it another chance?

The following places I found much, much better than expected: Croatia, Turkey, Greece, Portugal, Argentina and French Polynesia
 

RooFlyer

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Casablanca. Wanted to visit because of the movie of the same name...I know it was not even filmed there. An absolute dump full of scam artists. Fez and Marrakech were only slightly better but won't be rushing back to Morocco again. Visited Venice 30+ years ago and hated it...should I give it another chance?

The following places I found better than expected: Croatia, Turkey, Greece, Portugal, Argentina and French Polynesia

Certainly agree re Casablanca - from my Trip Report:

Arrival in Casablanca airport was not so much chaotic as just slow and tedious. Immigration and baggage always seem to take forever. But got there eventually.

Casablanca isn't one of my favorite places. In spite of the exotic name, its basically a big commercial city, with chaotic traffic. They completed a light rail / tram line through downtown this year and as far as I could see, this just gave a new 'shortcut' route for cars.


Loved Marrakech though ...
 

Pushka

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Alaska for my husband. He did not want to go. Hates the cold. It was on my bucket list so we went. I swear he was on deck in the open far more than me capturing the wildlife and scenery. It was actually warm! As opposed to the Grand Canyon we visited just prior to Alaska, in May, where it snowed. It's normally in the nineties in May. We also went to the Grand Canyon in January. Where again, it snowed.
 

SydneySwan

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Surprised on the upside;

Venice - always worried about crowds, etc. Visited in January 1990 or 1991. No crowds, misty and foggy generating incredible atmosphere, great cafes and restaurants as they were half-empty. Been afraid to go back since as suspect impossible to repeat the experience.

Helsinki - sent by work, expected blandness and found incredible architecture, wonderful Russian restaurants and the Finns were great to work and drink with (although I struggled to maintain pace).

Bangui - wonderful cake shops and a couple of great French restaurants, very little crime because a coup took place when I was there (1979).

Downside;

Bangalore - work trip, constantly sick, appalling food, Indian staff totally disorganised and all from other Indian cities and constantly moaned about how their home towns / cities were so much better and please can I get them a job in Australia / UK / US, etc., nothing much to see, horrible old airport (has been rebuilt since). If I never return it will be too soon.

Shenzhen - a few work trips. City just kept expanding to become ultimate concrete jungle, endless new buildings meant I could never recognise anything from previous visits, no redeeming features, local staff on last couple of trips insisted I stayed in my hotel after dark due to increasing crime. Relived that I don't need to go there anymore.
 

VPS

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I went to Venice just after Christmas in 2017 and it was heaving even then but it was still magical
 
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Flashback

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Interesting as I was just talking to a colleague about Venice today (well, yesterday now I suppose) and how I really didn't like it. Have been there twice, opinion still hasn't changed. Too touristy, even going in shoulder / off season.

Taiwan surprised me - I didn't really have expectations going there, but really enjoyed my time. To think that was my last long haul overhaul holiday pre-COVID!

My other one would be the Emilia Romagna region of Italy; again, it was throw a dart on the map (for a reasonable price) and head off 2 weeks later during COVID, just needed to get away. Absolutely blew me away and really enjoyed our time there. Easy to get around on the trains, food was good and reasonably priced. Recommend it instead of doing the usual Rome / Venice / Florence etc. although each holds their own charm I suppose.
 

vetrade

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For me Athens and South Africa stand out because our experiences turned out to be the opposite of what we had expected.

Just outside the tourist area around the Acropolis, much of Athens is an abomination. In 2013 we saw rows of shops shuttered with sheets of corrugated iron, many with broken windows, street after street and km after km of graffiti on virtually every available surface and discarded furniture, beds and miscellaneous rubbish on the streets. Plus we twice witnessed public daytime behaviour that I can only politely describe as "uncivilised".

Then there is South Africa; we have become regular travellers to SA (pre Covid, of course) since our son moved there for work 9 years ago and what we have experienced is in stark contrast to the danger and lawlessness we initially expected. The dangerous areas tend to be the black townships where disputes are between rival families forced to live close together in makeshift houses with no electricity etc. We have driven and walked extensively around Jo'burg and many other areas of South Africa and, while we exercise a suitable amount of common sense, we have never once felt fearful. We have found the people to be almost universally positive, happy, friendly and helpful, which surprised us given that many live in extreme poverty.

A lot of Aussies and Athenians would do well to "take a leaf out of" the South Africans' book.
 
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For me it was Paris. I went with great expectations and was bitterly disappointed.
It was dirty, with dog poop everywhere and the air so thick you could barely see the Eiffel Tower, unless you were standing right next to it.
There were beggars and pushy hawkers everywhere and we found most locals rude and unhelpful.
This was way back in 1985, maybe it has improved, but I'm not very keen to find out.
 

JohnM

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No place has dramatically 'changed my mind' - but, universally, any initial twinges of doubt have given way to enjoyment. So, to that extent, everywhere stereotyped as in some way dodgy has proven not to be so and everywhere has exceeded expectations and driven the urge to extend boundaries - now viciously curtailed by Covid, of course. And time (and I dare say capacity to pay age/Covid-induced exorbitant travel insurance) is running out. :mad:

So, my motto has very firmly become: 'Put away your stereotypes - because they are wrong.' It's still hard to convince people, though. :rolleyes:

I have found no problems everywhere I've been, with the 'people on the street' being friendly and just getting on with their lives. Treat people with the respect that you would like, and do in Rome as the Romans do, and there are unlikely to be problems. Of course, anyone can be unlucky and robbed - or king-hit by a drunk or druggie in the entertainment precincts of any city in Australia (probably the world epitome of such behaviour).

I like getting out into the hinterland of places, after a quick look at the main city or major cities and towns. Perhaps it's nicer there.

Some places people might baulk at: Sudan, many countries in SE Africa (S Africa, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Tanzania), Rwanda (one of the cleanest places in the world - I kid you not), Namibia, Iran, Cuba, Oman, Ethiopia, Madagascar, the 5 'Stans, Chile, Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, India - the list goes on, I have never had a problem.

More to the point, they have all been eye-opening and mind-expanding - as, of course, have been the mainstream destinations in Europe, North America, Asia, Oceania.
 

drron

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Back to the other 2 places that changed my mind.One was a Galapagos cruise.I was really looking forward to this.Had seen many docos including those by David Attenborough.But it was totally different to my expectations.I came away saying it was the one place that David Attenborough's films don't do it justice.Just an incredible adventure.

The other is Japan.In early 1984 we did a trip with our 9 year old son and my MIL.Japan was so different to any other country we have been to.Modern and superficially westernised but with their culture intact.The people were just so friendly and helpful.Stand for more than a minute looking lost and someone comes up and asks if you need help.A celebration in Kyoto with a group of young Japanese businessmen who were intrigued with a group of Australians being the only Europeans in the restaurant.One had worked a year in Melbourne.Lots of their sake consumed.Also people wanting to practice their English.
I was so impressed that on returning I signed up to do 2 years of Japanese at Newcastle University.Even passed both years exams.Used to practice with Japanese tourists on the Gold Coast.Made one mistake at Uluru.Saw a Japanese fellow looking lost and in Japanese asked if he needed help or his photo taken.Answer -no mate I was born in Sydney and I'm Korean.
We have now made over 50 trips to Japan often driving ourselves though the trains are a fantastic way of travelling.
 

Scarlett

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Athens - all of my friends and colleagues had talked the place down for all the usual reasons, but when we got there found it pleasant to walk around and clean, with amazing sites everywhere. We had just arrived from Cairo however...

Then driving around the Peloponnese region: just brilliant.

On a lesser note: Goulburn. Figured it would just be another nice country town, but my goodness what a freakshow.
 

TheRealTMA

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No place has dramatically 'changed my mind' - but, universally, any initial twinges of doubt have given way to enjoyment. So, to that extent, everywhere stereotyped as in some way dodgy has proven not to be so and everywhere has exceeded expectations and driven the urge to extend boundaries - now viciously curtailed by Covid, of course. And time (and I dare say capacity to pay age/Covid-induced exorbitant travel insurance) is running out. :mad:

So, my motto has very firmly become: 'Put away your stereotypes - because they are wrong.' It's still hard to convince people, though. :rolleyes:

I have found no problems everywhere I've been, with the 'people on the street' being friendly and just getting on with their lives. Treat people with the respect that you would like, and do in Rome as the Romans do, and there are unlikely to be problems. Of course, anyone can be unlucky and robbed - or king-hit by a drunk or druggie in the entertainment precincts of any city in Australia (probably the world epitome of such behaviour).

I like getting out into the hinterland of places, after a quick look at the main city or major cities and towns. Perhaps it's nicer there.

Some places people might baulk at: Sudan, many countries in SE Africa (S Africa, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Tanzania), Rwanda (one of the cleanest places in the world - I kid you not), Namibia, Iran, Cuba, Oman, Ethiopia, Madagascar, the 5 'Stans, Chile, Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, India - the list goes on, I have never had a problem.

More to the point, they have all been eye-opening and mind-expanding - as, of course, have been the mainstream destinations in Europe, North America, Asia, Oceania.
Bah! Have you been to Gympie? :)
 

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