The world is an amazing (and disappointing) place

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by headbang8, May 28, 2006.

  1. headbang8

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    Warm Horizon, many thanks for starting the topic about the Mona Lisa. You unleashed a real torrent of amazing/disppointing travel stories. Even the disappointing bits are instructive in some way, are they not?

    I've been blessed. Thanks to my job, I have travelled to more places than many get to see in a lifetime--and even lived in some ofthose places, too. The real joy of travel is
    1. Some things you expect to be great are a washout
    2. You're amazed by small things you never expected
    Here are a few of mine. What's yours?

    Moscow.
    • The Bolshoi. Crappy dancing. Drunk conductor. Strampede for drinks at interval.
    • The Kremiln Armoury. The museum of the Tsars treasures, three quarters of which were lost when hidden from the Nazis and no one could quite remember where afterward. The remainder is still pretty amazing. Have you ever seen a bucket of diamonds?
    Salzburg
    • Kehlstein. Hitler's mountaintop retreat is no more a three-bedroom ranch. Interesting elevator, though.
    • Hellbrun. Castle built by a bishop for his mistress--back in the days when they preferred mistresses to choirboys. The Water Garden is full of little squirty jokes to embarass the pompous burghers who visited.
    Tokyo
    • Temples/Shrines. I'm sure if I studied them properly, they'd be fascinating. But after a while, the contrived, zenny simplicity just got dull. Asakusa sucks.
    • Shibuya. Where the young Japanese women who made Hello Kitty into Cutezilla gather to shop for their clothes, greeting cards, stuffed animals and sex toys. Go to Shibuya 109, catch an elevator to the 8th floor, and circle downwards. Take your cultural studies professor. His head will explode.
     
  2. B_Stronzo

    B_Stronzo New Member

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    Disappointed:

    An ill-fated trip through the New York State countryside. Yuck, yuck, double yuck. The so-called "Freedom trail walk" through old Boston. Ho-hum.

    Surprised and delighted:

    A wonderful sojourn my boyfriend and I took much like "F. Scott Peck" in his In Searh of Stones book where we went all through England and Scotland (where my boyfriend's great grandmother was born) in search of ancient pre-Christian sites (or "mini Stonehenges"). On the moors of Scotland he and I walked easily ten miles through the most primeval landscape until we came upon a standing rock formation call Langangarn Stone. You could almost sense the gnomes watching us.

    It was one of those experiences when you know, somehow, you're in a holy place.

    Took my breath away:

    The first time I stood in front facing the Basilica di San Marco in Venice and turned immediately to my right toward "il bacino" (the lagoon). The view is beyond description. For the first time I knew what the term "took my breath away" comes from. I audibly gasped and tears streamed down my face. It was another "holy place".

    Another 'holy place': a section of Nantucket Island called Madaket on a sunny summer morning or a foggy Nantucket sunset; particularly Smith's Point bridge over the marshes at sunrise! It's mesmeric.

    France:

    La Basilique in VĂ©selay (more specific the chapel far beneath) which is a pilgrimmage spot for many who adhere to the Mary Madeleine story regarding Christ. I observed a service/ritual deep under that church where hooded monks of the plainest variety allowed us to watch a ceremony that seemed pre-Christian in origin. I left that place changed that day two years ago. Again- the sensation was that it was another "holy place".

    Italy:

    VENICE in general. At every turn is another antique view!!!

    But in particular for artwork "La Galleria Accademia" at the foot of the "Ponte Accademia". It has the finest collection of Venetian art in the world and the presentation and lighting make the Titians, Tintorettos, Canalettos, and Veronses strut their stuff in a way that's afforded few visitors to a public museum.
     
  3. yhtang

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    I have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to visit many places and cities, but these are some of my memories.....

    Osaka - I entered a departmental store and decided to take the lift up to the third floor. In the lift was a female lift attendant, dressed in the store's uniform, white gloves, warm smile with a light makeup (it was daytime). Her job? At every floor, she would hold the lift door open, and pleasantly recite the types of goods sold on that floor. Imagine that as a job. I presume they change shifts every hour or something.

    Paris - I was queueing with a friend to visit the catacombs, famous because it has loads of human bones, all intricately arranged. It was a warm afternoon, the queue was rather long and after half an hour, we still did not seem to be anywhere near the entrance. I observed that not a single visitor had emerged from the catacombs. I told my friend, and asked him, "Where do you think they got all those bones from?" Later, we discovered that the exit was a distance away from the entrance.

    Perth, Australia - After three days I was bored to tears.

    China - had a lovely time triapsing all over the Central Plains of China, visiting almost all the ancient capitals. Was well treated by the locals. Tried to pass off as a Mainlander Chinese (as opposed to a foreign born Chinese) but was outed because my Putonghua (Mandarin) did not carry the local accent.

    Great Wall of China - Badaling site - Was disappointed. Due to the "renovations" done, the Wall looked more like a 1000 day old monument than a 1000 year old structure.

    I feel blessed, I have had a good life (so far), not too many disappointments.
     
  4. dong20

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    On the natural world, as I get older I find myself increasingly amazed by what an amazing and diverse planet we inhabit and how our shortsightedness as a species is putting that very thing at risk...:rolleyes:

    My 'top 20' man made and natural 'phenomena'....that have made my jaw drop over the years as they come to me so different tomorrow:
    1. Sunset at Angkor Wat
    2. Sunrise at Machu Picchu
    3. The humble devotion of Tibetan Monks at the Barkhor and the Potala Palace
    4. Diving a drop off at night and seeing my first Shark
    5. Taj Mahal
    6. Potosi mines
    7. Hong Kong harbour at sunset
    8. Witnessing a total solar eclipse
    9. Saturns rings through a telescope for the first time
    10. Easter Island
    11. Ruins of Troy
    12. The raw power of a Hurricane first hand (Georges, Cuba)
    13. Petra
    14. Batu Caves
    15. My first solo flight
    16. Stonehenge
    17. Tikal
    18. Patagonia
    19. Abu Simbel
    20. My first African sunrise
    So so many others it seems a shame to single those out... :rolleyes:

    On the flip side...a few that while amazing inexplicably didn't quite 'blow my mind' in the way I anticipated....
    1. Niagra falls
    2. The Great Pyramid
    3. Terracotta Warriors
    4. Grand Canyon
    5. Chitchen Itza
    6. Panama Canal
    7. Bullet Trains
    8. The Mona Lisa..:rolleyes:
    9. Sydney Harbour Bridge
    10. Arenal Volcano
    11. Cu Chi tunnels
    12. St. Peters' Basillica
    13. The Coliseum
    14. Ceasars Palace
    15. Sugar Loaf
    16. Nazca Lines
    17. Baalbeck Ruins
    18. Tahitian Girls....:mad:
    19. Monasterio de las Pajas
    20. Robben Island
    In a big picture sense Nothing in this world is really disappointing except, sadly many of the people in it. Everything else is about personal expectations so by defintion subjective.
     
  5. SpeedoGuy

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    Disappointments

    Las Vegas: I should have believed my first instincts and avoided it. Even if you enjoy over-indulging in food, gambling, booze, prostitutes and cigarettes, Glitter Gulch is no more than a caricature of itself. Consumerism run amok. The Siegfried and Roy white tigers show was by far the most overpriced hype I've ever endured. The only saving grace from this trip was the "Cirque du Soleil: Mystere" show which was fabulous.

    Norwegian Cruise Lines: I should have followed my first instincts and avoided it. Even if you enjoy overindulging in food, gambling, booze and cigarettes, big ship cruises are nothing more than gluttony run amok. The ship was crowded, the Jamaican, Polish and Phillipino crew members worked their asses off for slave wages, fat whiny tourists bitched about ever minor glitch, almost everything about the cruise was too contrived and artificial for my taste. Never again.

    Delights

    Grand Canyon National Park: I enjoy the outdoors but I feared a two week raft trip down the Colorado River might become a bit dull so I packed a couple of paperback novels to kill extra time. I was wrong. I never opened the first book. The entire journey was crammed with unexpected pleasures: paddling mighty rapids, learning the fauna and flora, the spectacular geology, hiking up side canyons dripping with clear springwaters, swimming in canyon streams, sleeping under the deserts stars. A life changing adventure.

    Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary: The Channel Islands off southern California's coast offer spectacular scuba diving. I expected poor visibility and numbingly cold water but it wasn't. The reefs and fish and kelp forests were all as interesting and varied as anything I'd encountered in tropical diving hot spots.
     
  6. B_Stronzo

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    amen
     
  7. DC_DEEP

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    Sad, but true. Even some areas I have visited have pleasantly surprised me (southern Utah and eastern Oklahoma come immediately to mind) but it seems that people are pretty much the same everywhere.
     
  8. dong20

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    I'm afraid I've not seen much of the 'middle bits' of the US, been all round the 'edges' and side to side so to speak though I did once take a very slow drive from Phoenix to San Francisco...Via Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam, Death Valley, Las Vegas etc....which was excellent.

    One day....:smile:
     
  9. BigPoppaFury

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    Amazing
    Landing at Gibraltar airport, just for the sensation that you're about to land on water before the runway appears at the final second beneath you.

    In a car returning to Anaheim from the Joshua Tree national park as the sun was setting. I couldn't take my eyes off of the sky, it was beautiful.

    The absolute silence when we got out of the car in the middle of the Joshua Tree park. There was nothing to listen to, no wind, no animals, no cars. Being from a city you never experience true silence. I've never experienced it since.

    The first time I experienced the view from the top of the Empire State building. Fantastic.

    The first time I flew above clouds. That view never gets old.

    Notre Dame in Paris. Mind boggling, the attention to detail and the consistency of the work carried out over (I think) 400 years is astonishing.

    Climbing down a valley into freshwater and being able to see and feel little fish swimming into my legs in Benahavis, Spain.

    Waking up with a hangover after three hours sleep on the hottest day of the year inside the hottest minibus in the world, gathering my senses and walking on stage infront of a sea of faces and playing a really really good show. For me it was a beautiful sight that I'd dreamed of all my life and it was every bit as good as I imagined it to be. (Germany, June 2005)

    Disappointing
    Belgium.
     
  10. B_Stronzo

    B_Stronzo New Member

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    You've seen more of the 'middle bits' than I have! Well done... I'm not awfully interested in them truth be told.
     
  11. dong20

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    I loved the sheer sense of scale, the lack of people and the huge skies....all of which are often hard to find on my small island. But your reference to Scotland resonated, I've not been there in a while...:mad:

    I'd like to get together with a couple of pals, rent or by a huge old rag top and drive coast to coast over a month...see 'Middle America'....looking out for hobbits..:tongue:
     
  12. DC_DEEP

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    Interesting. Just out of curiosity, why the lack of interest?
     
  13. B_Stronzo

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    It's an historical thing I'm sure DC related to my penchant for things architecturally ancient and historic. Christ, even Boston isn't quite old enough for me. It's why I spend so much time in Europe.

    I'm not terribly into Mountain ranges and vast expanses of land. You know "amber waves of grain"... that sort of thing. I've seen the footage. I find it unnerving.

    I've been to many places on the east coast. I've only been as far as New York State interior-wise. I've been to the west coast three times and I liked the north of California in its way. But I don't feel a huge urge to go back. San Francisco was ok but I think it's because it was so quaint and gay. I've never been to Florida and I don't ever intend to by design.

    And beyond that Middle America appears to be, well, full of Middle Americans in large measure. It simply has no draw for me.:redface:
     
  14. chrispy

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    Perhaps it is because I have not had the chance to travel much, but ecery new place I have been was a wonder...

    Yosemite National Park
    Like Stronzo's first reaction to San Marco in Venice, my first real life view of the park literally took my breath away (and almost cuased me to drive into the canyon...I was so stunned that I almost missed the turn along the rim at the top). Mankind has managed some pretty amazing things, but no one out does Mother Nature!

    Louisiana/New Orleans
    My first visit, as the plan brake through the clouds, and my eyes were dazzled by more shades of the color green than I had ever imagined existed. The warmth and friendliness of the natives in the City. Our first twilight at Cafe du Monde, watching as the sky turned violet, and the bats started wheeling around the spires of St. Louis Cathedral.

    Paris
    After living my whole life in Los Angeles, where very little is more than 100 years old, to walk those aged streets and enter a cafe in the basement of a 1,300 year old building. To walk wear Louis XIV, Napoleon, St. Joan had walked at the Louvre...Notre Dame, Versailles, the Tuilleries...and the Rodin Museum; Awesomw!

    Amsterdam
    Possibly the only place on earth where I felt like a prude. At last! a truly civilized place!
     
  15. dong20

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    Hamburg in the '80s ran in a 'respectable' second place.....:eek:
     
  16. B_Stronzo

    B_Stronzo New Member

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    I have to tell you dong... Scotland has something. My boyfriend and I both noticed it. It was a trip of ancestral discovery for him so I watched with his eyes too.

    As I said his gr. gr. grandmother (maybe one too many greats) was born in the Strathclyde in a stone cottage called Bridgend. We found the place because of documents kept in his family and it was the most amazing time. I love the Scots though they're a bit tough to get to know initially. But when we drove south from Edinburgh to Melrose Abbey we experienced the most amazing country topographically. It was primeval. I fell in love. The odd monolithic ruined castle didn't hurt either!!

    We'll go to Scotland before Italy again since he's insisting on it.

    Perhaps this fall.

    Here's the "lad" at an ancestral "kirkyard" a couple of years ago:

    http://i9.photobucket.com/albums/a66/Tosatel/neilatdurisdeer.jpg

    Here's the prehistoric site. It's simply two prehistoric standing stones. I had the name off. It's Laggangairn and near Newton Stewart in the south of Scotland. Of course later Christians had to impose their crosses on them :rolleyes:

    http://i9.photobucket.com/albums/a66/Tosatel/LaggangairnStonesScotland.jpg
     
  17. dong20

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    It does indeed, I have been probably a handful of times including one ski trip..ouch! I'd love to visit the Northern islands. Some are only about an hours flight away. So many places, so little time...:rolleyes:

    Hope you have a good trip and good weather, though I think wild weather adds an edge to the landscape, sunshine works well too.

    The Mono shot is excellent, it reminds me of a couple of similar sites I found in the clocaenog forest in North Wales.
     
  18. prepstudinsc

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    I'm with Stronzo on Venice. It's just purely magical. Every corner holds a treasure of some sort.

    On my first trip to Italy, I went to both Torino and the evnirons and Padova and Venezia. Torino was nice, but having Venetian blood, there was an instant bond. I felt like I was "home". It was a strange sensation. I had a connection with a place where I had never been, yet I felt as if I knew the place and was comfortable. Bizarre...

    In the United States, there are some fun places in the middle of the country, but I think San Francisco, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Savannah and Charleston are the big places to hit. They have culture, history, architecture, dining, etc.

    In Europe, one of the most fascinating places I've ever explored was the old Jewish cemetery in Prague.

    Some places are better than others, but I always manage to find something interesting when I go somewhere. There can always be a historical building, or a off the beaten path museum or something. The trick is to ask the locals where they go and what they do. Forget the tourist spots--while there might be some "big" monument or something, it's often overrated. It's the lesser known treasures that have the most interest for me.
     
  19. JustAsking

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    Hey, I resemble that remark!
     
  20. DC_DEEP

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    Ah, pretty much what I figured. I do agree with the "architecturally ancient and historic." But I am also awed by the "geologically overwhelming." I enjoy crowds in small doses, but I occasionally have to get away from the "sea of humanity." Too much NYC or SFO or WDC at one time just gets to me after a while. Yeah, I know, I know, my gay card is gonna get revoked for this, but I would rather be wilderness camping than shopping in New York or Los Angeles. The runestone in the Ouachita Mountains of eastern OK is small, some small debate regarding its origins, and not architectural; I still found it interesting. Petite Jean State Park in central AR, if you know where to look, has some fascinating petroglyphs, too... but while the park managers try to steer visitors away from the area (gotta love those fucking dimwitted vandals, eh?) it is not prohibited.
     
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