Those WTF Moments When Traveling….What Are Our Travel Disappointments?

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We’ve all had them.  The “Been there.  Done that.  Not doing it again” trips or visits.  You have built something up so much that when you get there all you can do is draw a blank.  You are so stunned at what you are experiencing that you wonder where you went wrong with your planning.  You begin to second guess your self, the recommendations you have received, and the research you have done. I’ve had them and I truly like to look at it as a learning opportunity and a test of how I can make the best of a not so great situation.

Luckily, those total vacation long losses are few and far between and more than likely it can be salvaged.  I have found with me, it’s usually one aspect or site that has been a disappointment.  I try to have back up options or the phone handy for a search and a map.  I try to put the disappointment and anxiety at bay and look for something else to do.  

I took an informal survey of the kids and my friends and here are few of the sad experiences we have experienced while traveling.


Plymouth Rock  

It is a rock with the date on it in a hole in the ground which is situated under a gazebo. I am not saying to avoid Plymouth Rock.  I am not saying that it shouldn’t be a destination.  It should if you are in the area.  Luckily, there is so much to do in the area. 


Other places to consider: 

  • Boston or Cape Cod:  This depends upon what direction you want to go.  Cape Cod is about hanging around the water and relaxing.  Martha’s Vineyard is a beautiful island to kick back on the beach or you can amp it up with a hike or a cycle around the island.  Or you can take a drive up to Provincetown for whale watching and a strolls through the galleries and shops.  If you are looking for a historic trail and great museums then it’s Boston.  I highly recommend The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum it is a beautiful museum and the site of the only successful art heist in the US.  You can catch the documentary on Netflix: This Is a Robbery: The World’s Biggest Art Heist.  Another favorite of mine is Salem.  Interesting shops and museums abound.  Plymouth is a day trip from either location.
  • The Plimoth Plantation:  Bob and I found this treasure and we loved wandering around the plantation listening to the settlers explain life there. It’s a place where you can meander around and take in life as it was hundred of years ago.  The ghosts of the past linger here and I encourage you to go.

Pat’s and Geno’s

Tourist trap comes to mind when it comes to these two iconic Philadelphia rivals.  They are literally right across the street from each other and are synonymous with Philly cheesesteak.  However, they are not as good as some of the other cheesesteak establishments in Philly.  These rivals are across the street from each other and are very different.  Geno’s is flashy and Pat’s is old school.  Everyone has their favorites and it is a source of debate but I am putting in my tow cents in any way.  I prefer Pat’s…there I said it.  Geno’s meat was chewier and their sauce watery.  Pat’s is just a little better, in my opinion.

Other places to consider:

  • Dalessandro’s at 600 Wendover St, Philadelphia, PA 19128:  This spot opened in 1960 in the neighborhood of Roxborough.  It is right next door to one of my favorite areas, Manayunk.  If you want a great location for shops and food, it’s there.  Try Marciano’s, which was a favorite of Frank Sinatra; Lucky’s Last Stike is the home of the peanut butter and jelly hamburger, that beat Bobby Flay in a hamburger competition, or have some La Columbe coffee which is one of the best coffees around. By the way, try the burger.  Everyone I have introduced that burger to has absolutely loved it.  Also, if you are looking for history, then Laurel Hill Cemetery is around the corner.  This place is on the National Register of Historic Places and they have a tour.  There are some interesting personalities there.
  • Jim’s Steaks at 400 South St, Philadelphia, PA 19147:  Jim’s is on South Street in Philly and to say it’s eclectic is an understatement.  You will find second hand shops, sex stores, comic book haven, restaurants and bars.  It’s also near The Famous Fourth Street Deli which is a family favorite.  Interesting location and a greta place to find a good cheesesteak. It’s also near the site where Larry Fine from the Three Stooges was born.


Nassau in the Bahamas:  Bob and I were there a few years ago and we found it depressing and the only real place to be was Atlantis which is extremely pricey.  Bob and I were wondering around and found out that the area had not recovered from.  There was a run distillery and a Hard Rock outside of Atlantis.  Atlantis is very expensive and I felt trapped there because the rest of Nassau was a day trip.  “Nice.  Not thrilling but nice.” (Mel Brooks had that right).

Other places to consider:

  • Roatan, Honduras:  This is my favorite location in the Caribbean.  We took the kid’s there 12 years ago and I went again 5 years ago.  I would go again in a heartbeat.  It’s not as touristy and the snorkeling/scuba diving is exceptional.  The second largest reef is located from the middle of Mexico to the middle of Central America and Roatan is part of it.  There are beautiful beaches, restaurants on the beach, activities in the Rain Forest and just dome of the best relaxing I’ve had in the Caribbean.
  • Cozumel, Mexico:  Nice place to visit for a few days.  Bob and I loved it.  There is a Tequila micro-distillery, Mayan ruins, beaches, shipping and dining.  We did the Tequila distillery and found some excellent Tequila.  It’s called Del Barrill Marinero and the Distillery is Licores Real Marinero and can be found on Facebook.   Also, there is El Cedral, which is a Mayan site near Cozumel.  It’s an ancient fertility temple which helped couples conceive.  El Cedral is the oldest Mayan site in the area and dates back to 800AD.  There are some wonderful little restaurants along the way.  Taxis are abundant and cheap.  It’s a nice option.

Cherry Blossom Festival in DC

This is one of the most beautiful festivals and the most popular events in DC.  It gets extremely busy during the weekends to the point that parking is impossible and you can barely move.  Luckily, I am very patient and will wait a very long time for the right picture.  I won’t do it again and once is enough.  If you are going to attempt the festival, go during the week when it is easier but you can still expect some big crowds.



Other places to consider:

  • Shofuso Japanese House and Garden:  This is one of the most beautiful sites in Philadelphia.  I attempt a visit every year or two.  Shofuso was built in Japan in 1953 and then shipped to New York.  The house was displayed in the courtyard of the New York Museum of Modern art.  Then in 1958, Shofuso was moved to the Fairmont Park area in Philadelphia.  The site includes a pond garden with a waterfall, island, and koi fish, a tea garden with a traditional tea house, and a courtyard garden leading to a bathhouse.  It is one of the most serene places in the Philadelphia area.  Most of the Cheery Blossom trees were planted in 1926 and were presented to Philadelphia as a gift from Japan.  The festival includes performances and taiko drumming.


Some Other Disappointments

Runner Up:  Some other places that have been disappointments

  1.  Casinos:  Amada was disappointed when she was able to go into casinos.  She hated losing money and thought it was boring.  She just felt that generally it was not a thing for her.
  2. Harry Potter World in Universal Studios Orlando:  Bob had built it up so much that she expected more and ….more like the world itself.  He liked it but it was pretty crowded.  He loved The Three Broomsticks restaurant and the shops.
  3. Hollywood:  The Walk of Fame is not a destination site.  It’s nice to see while you’re in the area along with the Chinese theatre and the Hollywood sign but it’s not worth going to Hollywood for just that.  West Hollywood is considered to be the fourth most dangerous city and if you are not sure where you are going, you might land in an area that you might not want to be.  Luckily, the tourist areas have regular police patrols.
  4. Poe House on Philadelphia:  This was one of the first museums went to upon moving to Philadelphia.  It’s a typical period house with some information and a few pictures.  Not quiet the homage we had hoped it would be.
  5. Atlantic City:  I have a love-hate relationship with Atlantic City.  I have seen in delcine over the last several years.  Three years ago we were there for a comedy show and stayed at the Borgota and then Bob and I were there about 5 years ago at the Borgota and 6 years ago with Amanda and her bestie for a Mom-Daughter 21st birthday getaway.  I have seen the deline over that period and now have learned that it’s been rated as one of the best boardwalks.  The SO and I laughed when we walked on the boardwalk after dinner that it was dinner and a show.  


No matter what, some vacations and trips are not perfect.  It just a matter of making the best of it.  Have a backup plan.  Happy travels.



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Shofuso Cherry Blossom Festival

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