Friday, 17 August 2007

What a wonderful world

A survey by Virgin Travel Insurance has revealed what the rest of us know to be true (deep down in our souls): British holidaymakers are a load of uncultured, ungrateful dolts when they want to be (that's right, I mean you Mr Socks-and-sandals).

Thousands of British tourists were asked about their visits to well-known attractions and rated domestic and worldwide let-downs as follows...

The most disappointing global sights:

1. The Eiffel Tower - "frustratingly overcrowded and overpriced"
2. The Louvre (Mona Lisa)
3. Times Square
4. Las Ramblas, Spain
5. Statue of Liberty
6. Spanish Steps, Rome
7. The White House
8. The Pyramids, Egypt
9. The Brandenburg Gate, Germany
10. The Leaning Tower of Pisa

I've only seen three of these - Times Square, the Statue of Liberty and the Eiffel Tower (oh and the Brandenburg Gate when I was too young to care) but I disagree with the scorn that's been heaped upon them. The Eiffel Tower remains an iconic French symbol because of its great shape and its impressive architecture and history. But be realistic - its a symmetrical iron monument, not a fairground ride.

Times Square? Again what do you expect? A busy thoroughfare, it's packed with bustling New Yorkers going to-and-fro, fifteen gazillion McDonald's and a forest skyscrapers and neon advertising - I was impressed, it's like Piccadilly but a damn sight cleaner.

The Statue of Liberty is my only concession - on the outside it's still impressive, like the Eiffel Tower, a testament to French design and craftsmanship. However like many a dumb tourist I decided to climb up it. Don't bother - two hours stuck on staircase inside a hot metal object with hundreds of sweaty tourists certainly is disappointing.

And the UKs most dismal attractions:

1. Stonehenge - "just a load of old rocks"
2. The Angel of the North
3. Blackpool Tower
4. Lands' End
5. The Princess Diana Memorial Fountain
6. The London Eye
7. Brighton Pier
8. Buckingham Palace
9. The White Cliffs of Dover
10. Big Ben.

Again, those 'sights' that I've seen around our great isle I have appreciated for their historical/cultural/structural value...A load of old rocks indeed! Sections of the standing stones of Stonhenge are estimated to be around 4,000 years old and though we're none the wiser as to the monument's purpose it still looks funky...

I was sceptical about the London Eye before gazing upon it (because it is, after all, just a giant fairground ride...) but have reformed my opinion in light of its smooth design (and sheer size) and the fact that it looks so distinctive/hip in the London sprawl...

Buckingham Palace and Big Ben...Er...These are two structures which embody our country's very special political character - monarchy and parliamentary rule. But at the end of the day what do you expect of buildings? The Palace has always served for the monarchy and the clock still tells the time - I don't think the designers had London's teeming tourism trade in mind when they concieved either edifice...

And Lands' End and the White Cliffs of Dover..? They're geographical landmarks for goodness sake - blame nature for your disappointment...

I think this 'disappointment' is really our own fault - high expectations without any education about the place in question. Maybe if people took the time to learn about where they are, they might appreciate the view a little more....But Brits will always find a load of old rocks in Borobudur far more interesting than a load of old rocks back home because they're "exotic, innit?" and they've had to spend thousands of pounds and fly thousands of miles to get there...(but I bet you just can't get a good egg and chips....).


James said...


The survey results don't surprise me too much and you really have to wonder what people were expecting for some of the attractions.

Personally I've never been fond of the 'tick box' traveller, whose feels the need to see this, see that, go there, go here just so they can talk about it down the pub. Some of my greatest memories are from locations that may not be famous but at a certain point of time they had a massive impact on me, much more than an overcrowded 'place of interest'.

That's not to say historical monuments should not be treasured, I'm just making a point.

Em said...

Absolutely, I couldn't agree with you more....

I like the disclaimer... :) (caution, Emma - handle with care...)

Did you hear about Bill Deeds? What a shame...I wanted to do a post dothing my cap, as 't were but have been busy today...

James said...

I did hear about Bill Deeds, although I'm slightly embarrassed to admit that I did not know who he was.

Em said...

Sacrilege! :)

The man was a legend...and still working at inspiration to us all....Bless 'im