Worst Tourist Traps: 2011
Many places are actually fun to visit just to watch the miserable tourists who don't know there's a less congested, crowded, over-priced, and polluted alternative. Help us avoid the worst of Europe's tourist traps with your hard-earned experience.
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Anticipate & enjoy the experience!
Surprised at several of the postings under this site. My husband & I absolutely love Venice and centered our latest trip to Italy in Sept. around the Veneto region, spending 4 more days in Venice. The gondolas are well worth a 1-time romantic evening experience. Also, we loved Salzburg and want to go back to Vienna. I think a lot of the opinion originates in how much you want to enjoy the experience - we invested a lot of time in on-line research & google maps to anticipate the itinerary and then enjoy experiencing the different cities.
Mill Creek, WA USA Fri 11/04/2011
we just returned from rome. we found mammertine prison to be a waste of time and 7 euros. you cannot go into the prison anymore. they now have a very bad, childish video tour.
charleston, sc USA Mon 10/31/2011
Melt-down in Venice
At first, the Italian "who-gives-a-####" attitude is charming, if not slightly annoying. We accepted it as "that's the way it is." But after a few days of ineptness, I finally broke.
While waiting in line to enter St. Mark's in Venice (later in the day - so short line), I was told to take my back pack to the luggage room. No problem. I remember reading about that, and wasn't too concerned.
Where was it? "Around the corner" was the best I could get from any official person.
Still no problem. My travel companions waited as I walked around the corner. Nothing. I walked in through the exit door to talk to another official person. "Around corner!" is all he loudly shouted as he physically pushed me back out the door. (I guess terrorist use the exits.)
Again I walked around the corner. Nothing. I then started to ask tourists as they came out of the exit. Unfortunately for me, none of the tourists knew either. They were smart enough to remember to leave their backpacks in their hotels.
After about 10 minutes of searching, and many questions to waiters, etc. I finally found a map near St. Marks that showed where the luggage room was.
Why no one just directed me to the map is beyond me. I don't expect everyone to speak English, but a simple direction to the map would have saved almost 20 minutes of my stewing.
I realize that Venice is almost 98 percent tourist, and some Italians might get tired of us. However, those "official" people need to remember that everyone in this world is a tourist at some time. And as a tourist, they too might get confused or lost, no matter how many tour guide books they study. I hope when that happens, a kind local will guide them with understanding and a smile.
Salt Lake City, UT USA Tue 10/11/2011
Salzburg - Why?
In August, Salzburg is a city on edge.
The streets are jammed with roving gangs of tourists. They are frustrated and bored. They wander aimlessly in a kind of brownian movement looking for... something. The Japanese form tight phalanxes following the plastic sunflower, connected with high tech wireless communication. They slice through the aimless others with ease. The American teenagers keep a safe distance from their unwanted parents. Shopping is the last resort but is ultimately numbing and only leads to a greater sense of despair.
A deep sense of ennui sets in as these tourists realize that they never liked the "Sound of Music" and don't really know Mozart. They elbow their way up three flights of stairs to Mozart's birthplace (how did he ever do it?) then exit through the gift shop none the wiser. The city looks plain after the richness of Vienna, Bratislava and Budapest. As they ascend to the fortress, they wonder why the Ottomans bothered to invade this soulless place. Was it the salt? I'm sure they too, left after discovering that adding salt to greasy food is not the answer.
As the day darkens, the focus of despair moves to the restaurants. Some tourists can't possibly eat another bratwurst or schnitzel and take refuge in Italian restaurants where at least there is a chance of finding a vegetable. They gain a new appreciation of the role of vegetables in their diet. Even ketchup would be a welcome sight. Fueled by massive quantities of beer and sickly sweet wine, the frustration builds and restaurants become battlegrounds of will and wit as tourists try to find sustenance but are ultimately foiled by overcrowding and under-staffing. The local populace barely tolerates this invasion and extract their revenge by overcharging for everything. Finally, in a fit of existential dread, our tourists find their way to the giant Jumbotron and deftly maneuver their way to a seat and the right to buy expensive bad wine. The opera Othello is playing. Sung with great enthusiasm in Italian and meticulously translated into German subtitles, our tourist realizes that this, also, will not give satisfaction. They realize that they will never understand this opera. It is too difficult. Suddenly they also realize that they never liked Mozart. He is too easy. Finally the realization sinks in that Lady Gaga is the answer.
In August, Salzburg is a city on edge...
Just say no.
Tahoe City, CA USA Thu 08/18/2011
We followed the advise of getting tickets at the Forum, a three minutes walk down the main road. We only waited for half an hour! It is the end of July, thank Rick Steves. The only thing I would add is that if you are an EU member you get a discounted price and EU kids under 18 are free if I remember rightly. I didnt have a passport with me so had to pay the higher price. As we walked past the line to the coloseum I was so glad it must have taken those people at least two hours. The line was longer also at the palentine hill. Also the audio tour is great and worth it if you have kids who rush you by all the reading material. You can share some cool facts with them later.
Los Angeles, CA USA Tue 07/26/2011
Not that ancient Rome isn't worth it, but just a tip to avoid the trap we fell into: At every site across Rome Roma Passes are currently sold out. We intended to use that to get into the Colosseum, but were forced to buy tickets on site. We followed Rick's tip to buy tickets at the less popular Palatine Hill, which seemed reasonable after seeing the Colosseum line. After two brutal hours in the sun and no water in sight we made it to the front of the extremely slow line (maybe 300 people long). As we exited the forum my heart sank as I saw about 15 people in the ticket line there. Lesson learned: send someone from your party on the five minute walk to see how long the other lines are. And maybe order a Roma Pass ahead in July.
Salt Lake City, UT USA Mon 07/11/2011
Hop on, Hop off bus in Rome
Avoid the Archeobus in Rome. Service very unreliable and you will miss the bus if you are not standing exactly where it comes to a rolling stop.
Smithfield, NC USA Thu 07/07/2011
Pont du Gard
Don't plan on visiting the Pont du Gard in Provence unless you have a very full car. Parking (on both banks) now costs 15 Euros (about $22). You can get a 3 k. distance view for free from Castillon du Gard. In this town there is free parking, an arrow pointing left (in the direction of the Pont du Gard) marked on the panorama wall, and some very reasonable restaurants.
Columbia, MO USA Sun 07/03/2011
Cafe Nytrov - Copenhagen, DK
Cafe Nytrov which is listed in the guide was somewhat of a disappointment. No smorrebrod, the slowest, inattentive service we have seen here in Copenhagen, and very loud neighbors at next table, Americans, of course (we are Americans and their performance thorough their and unfortunately our meal was crass, loud and thoughtless to other diners and when, it came time to pay their bill, the restaurant staff. Now the servers might have been somewhat hard to find, which I might add is quite a trick in a such tiny establishment, but asking again and again about tip amounts is crass and insulting. As guests in another country, diners should try consult either a guidebook or the internet before they harangue servers. That said, the entire performance there does cause me to think that perhaps Rick should visit this establishment again, I suspect his recommendation might be withdrawn.
Tallahassee, FL USA Thu 06/02/2011
Gondolas = Rick Steves clearly states in one of his videos that if you go to a part of Venice that has no bridges the Gondalas are cheaper, like a taxi. I have not been to Venice yet but i will try his suggestion when i go.
Upland,, CA USA Thu 03/31/2011
Gelato in downtown Florence
Don't buy outrageously expensive gelato anywhere near the main sights in Florence - Ponte Vecchio, Uffizi or Palazzo Vecchio. My friend and I had been traveling around Italy, enjoying gelato each afternoon for around 4-5 euros, and when they scooped us our gelato in Florence the bill was 23 euros! Would have been worth the walk to find another gelato shop off the beaten path, and ask the price.
Ramona, CA USA Mon 01/10/2011