Overrated Tourist Attractions

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When I sat down one idle Saturday to watch Primer, I wasn’t expecting anything. I remember reading someone on Twitter going on about it, but I didn’t put much stock in his opinion cause, you know, Twitter.

90 minutes later and I was crying great tears of joy at having experienced something of such staggering beauty. I’m not often moved to tears by art (the last film I cried at was I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry), but this one movied me in a way that I hadn’t been movied in a long time.

Erin hates Science Fiction. When she found my secret collection of Battlestar Galactica episodes, she started throwing plates at me. Screams of “How could you?” and “You’re such a typical bastard male!” accompanied a shower of porcelain shards as I cowered apologetically in the corner.

But after watching Primer she actually said that she liked the film. Voluntarily. With no cajoling.

This independent, unknown, ultra-low budget time travel movie had managed to get Erin to enjoy Science Fiction.

(Stupidly, I then tried to build on this positive step forward by taking her to see Transformers. Thanks to Michael Bay, I’ve now lost her forever.)

A Title To Draw You In While You’re Scanning: This Section Is About Cheese

If movies were cheese, Primer would be a perfect portion of light, creamy goats cheese served with sweet yellow cherry tomatoes and a splash of fine balsamic vinegar. Titanic, on the other hand, would be a hulking man-size block of Tesco mild cheddar served with one stale cracker.

<Aside> I once heard from a reliable source that to make Tesco mild cheddar, the company just hooks up a hose to the waste pipe of a tyre-factory and adds some Riboflavin-5′-Phosphate. </Aside>

Titanic was, at the time, the highest grossing film in history, and remained so for 12 years until it was surpassed by another Cameron ‘masterpiece’, the superior but still oh-Gods-where-is-the-story Avatar.

People just gushed and gushed about it for what seemed like years (but was probably only a weekend). Everywhere I went, it was “Oh Leo!”, “Oh Kate!”.

Oh good grief. Superlatives became so pedestrian that they had to invent new ones. I read one review that said.

“This flamboyotic mastermovie is an emotiondizing work of artisticulate wonderfulendipity! See it now!”

I think that one might have been from the Daily Mail: they like to make stuff up.

Truth be told, I didn’t actually mind watching Titanic. Some of the effects were nice, but it wasn’t as great as everyone was making it out to be. I don’t think it filled a particular hole in my soul nor was my life massively enriched from the experience.

I certainly wouldn’t have paid 10 times the usual movie theater price just because it was really, really famous. I also don’t believe that dressing up like Jack Dawson and queuing for 10 hours in the rain to be the first to see it would have made the experience any more memborable/spirtual/enriching.

I’d much rather be blindsided by an unexpected and unknown masterpiece like Primer than disappointed by an overrated, hyperbolic blockbuster like Titanic.

Controversial Ending

Wow, these metaphors are like a cheap and nasty cocktail: Very badly mixed.

So let me clarify: I’m talking about Machu Picchu.

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39 Comments (1 pingbacks)

  1. Awesome Simon! Even if I agree with the overrating, it’s still an incredible place. I’m currently planning my journey to Peru and the price is ridiculously high. Same goes for other attractions. Have you been to the Rainbow Mountain? Am asking as there are two tours and maybe you guys did one and can recommend it. I’m referring to this article I found on TripAdvisor https://exploorperu.com/blogs/exploor-peru-travel-blog/discover-the-best-route-to-the-famous-rainbow-mountains-of-peru. Maybe you’ve heard of it?


  2. Hmm. My son did the Salkantay Trek with Llama Path and enjoyed it. We were thinking of doing the same. Who did you use? I think with this new age in traveling the world, everything that was once pristine gets too commercial. I always wanted to visit Bali, but after Eat, Whine and Love, it has gone a bit over the top.


  3. If you don’t fancy the tourist throngs at Machu Picchu, head north to Chachapoyas and the hilltop fortress of Kuelap. It’s an awesome place. I went there about six months ago – I saw maybe five tourists during the whole day. Apparently, Peru is going to promote the north more in the next year or so – so get to Kuelap quickly before everyone else starts going there!


    • I have heard Kuelap is amazing – it’s a shame we didn’t make it to northern Peru as I really liked the sound of it.


  4. Its funny reading your post on MP. This has always been my biggest apprehension about it, over touristed. Hence when it comes to travelling in SA, we decide for any other country besides PERU! Although we have a good Peruvian friend who insists we shd go,but am waiting for him to recommend som non-touristy places to see or off the beaten track.

    I also totally agree on the Iguazu falls in Argentina – loved them but I also loved the Perito Moreno glacier. Both overly touristed but cant describe the joy seeing these natural wonders !


    • It sounds like there are some great places to visit in Northern Peru that not many tourists get to. You could always visit them as well as MP. Enjoy!


  5. Happiness = Reality / Expectations.

    That being said, I actually loved Machu Picchu. My biggest “reality can’t live up to expectations” moment was in Dubrovnik. A few days later we left to Korcula (about which no one had ever uttered a word to me) and I fell in love.


  6. I must say that I agree with Machu Picchu being a bit overrated. I went in 2009 and I enjoyed it, but it definitely did not blow me away. Sometimes I forget that when I look at my photos because the place was so photogenic. I think feeling like certain places are overrated also has a lot to do with the experience you have when you’re there and what you’ve seen prior to it. For me, I will always compare everything to the temples of Angkor, which are by far the best ruins/world wonder (even though it didn’t make the cut) I’ve seen up to this point. Also, it was sunny the whole time I was at Machu Picchu. Some people say that it’s more amazing if you see it covered in fog and then watch as lifts and the ruins are revealed… I’m not convinced though. No matter how much I think or know I’ll be underimpressed, I still typically visit the touristy places, but try to keep my expectations low about the attractions because my main travel goal is to soak up culture!


    • I agree – what you have seen before really does affect your reaction. It’s a shame really but we’ve got a bit harder to please having been to so many amazing places.


  7. ah, i’m sorry to hear that you didn’t enjoy machu pichu. for me, the inca trail and machu pichu was one of the highlights of my trip to peru (despite the crowds!). i still remember the sense of wonder i felt when i first saw machu pichu from the sun gate (amongst other emotions such as relief and exhaustion – the altitude really gets to you!). maybe next time?

    as another commenter said above – the most overrated tourist attraction i’ve been to so far is definitely the uffizi. thank goodness i bought my ticket in advance and didn’t line up for the 3 hours the queue was the day i went.


    • I actually enjoyed the Uffizi and went there twice! That was nearly 10 years ago though so I’m not sure how I’d feel these days.

      Glad you enjoyed your MP experience.


  8. We found a lot of the same pressure travelling in Vietnam – ‘Have you been to the Chu Chi tunnels?’ nearly everyone was pushing for us to go. In the end we just lied and said yes we had been so they would stop hassling us. And after three trips to Bangkok still haven’t seen the palace or Golden Temple. And my partner in crime famously passed on a trip to Victoria Falls, preferring to stay back and drink beer.

    Sometimes you just have to be in the mood to battle the crowds and the overinflated tourist prices just to make a tick off a list.


    • I can so understand just lying and pretending you went! It’s ridiculous though, isn’t it? I agree it all depends on your mood – if you are excited about going then great, but if you are going because you feel you have to, the experience is unlikely to be good.


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