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5 Places That Live Up to the Hype

Posted By in Holland, Ireland, Italy, Laos, Thailand | 25 comments

5 Places That Live Up to the Hype

I think every traveler has their own personal “postcard” cities: Places that you feel like you’ve visited even before you’ve ever actually been to them.  You’ve looked at images of these travel destinations for as long as you can remember, and you’ve read thousands of stories from those who have already traveled there. You’ve imagined going to this place for months, years, even decades.  How could you not have certain expectations?

I think people tend to have relatively extreme reactions when they finally visit a place that has become legendary in their own mind. The place either turns out to be everything you ever imagined it would be, or it’s a complete letdown when you see it without the glow of your own imagination. I’ve definitely experienced both types of places. Here are a few places that live up to the hype and met my expectations; a few places that really are as incredible as everyone told me they would be.

Thai Islands

Places That Live Up to The Hype: Thai Islands

I feel like some people might disagree with me on this point because there are a lot of beautiful islands in the world, and many of them are far less developed than the Thai islands. Regardless, I always imagined the Thai islands as places where I could lie under towering palm trees on a bed of pearly-white sand, facing towards clear, turquoise waters.  I think I’ve been able to fulfill every stereotypical beach fantasy on the Thai islands: From sipping a coconut on the beach, to spending an afternoon swaying in a hammock with one foot dangling in the sand.

Venice

Places That Live Up to the Hype: Venice, Italy

In my fantasies, Venice was on par with some kind of unicorn-filled, mystical, kingdom.  I imagined that I would virtually drown in beauty and romance if I ever actually visited.  And, to me, it really did turn out to be like a living fairy-tale:  The sleek gondolas anchored in front of pastel-coloured buildings, the un-really elaborate art and architecture, and the complex way the canals ran through the whole city like a picturesque bloodstream. You might want to consider finding accommodation near the Grand Canal in Venice, so that you can be right at the heart of the magic. Venice was like nowhere else in the world. Like the rest of Italy, the food was indescribably tasty: Thick, cheesy lasagnas and large, flavourful pizzas with perfectly crunchy crusts.

Dublin

Places That Live Up to the Hype: Dublin, Ireland

Dublin is probably not as hyped up as some of the other places on this list, but Ireland, and Dublin in particular, is known for its dedicated beer culture and friendly local people. Our Dublin experience definitely checked both of these boxes. We drank a lot of Guinness, and when we went out to drink and dine, the locals bought us beers and seemed genuinely interested in who were and where we came from. Dublin wasn’t crawling with tourists, and I felt none of the general aloofness that I experienced in some other big European cities. Dublin had all the charm of a small town. Plus, at the risk of sounding completely inane, the Irish accents were flat out adorable!

Luang Prabang

Places That Live Up to the Hype: Luang Prabang, Laos

Luang Prabang may not be famous globally, but it’s well-known among most backpackers in SE Asia. This UNESCO heritage city was rumored to be a place where European and Asian cultures blended beautifully.  A place where paper lanterns hung outside striking French provincial-style buildings, and where monks in bright sienna robes collected alms outside bakeries. And that was Luang Prabang: It was like a plate of sticky rice served with a glass of French wine. Warmly-lite nightmarkets were set up in the shadows of golden temples, and imposing mountains.  It was multi-cultural, eclectic, and, like the rest of Laos, inherently relaxed.

Amsterdam

Places That Live Up to the Hype: Amsterdam, Holland

Amsterdam always seemed like the dirty secret of any European trip; a city that should be named only in whispers. Because what could be more salacious than sex and drugs? It was all there: The cafes where you could walk in and order marijuana off the menu, the red light district where street after street was lined with prostitutes standing behind transparent doors. It was also filled with European loveliness: 100s of bikes resting against bridges that arched gracefully over the canals, elegant tall buildings, and a general air of artistic charm. Amsterdam was more avant-garde, than it was sleazy in the way I had imagined. It was everything I expected, but also far more beautiful than I had ever known it would be.

 

*Please note: This post helps to fund our traveling*

 

Have you visited these places? Did they meet your expectations? What other places lived up to the hype for you?

25 Comments

    • waysofwanderers February 19, 2013

      I agree, Kate! I love how passionate New Yorkers are about their city – it was something I had heard before I went, and it definitely turned out to be true. It was really charming.

  1. tammyonthemove February 19, 2013

    I still haven't managed to go to the Thai islands. A lot of people say they are too touristy now, but then I rarely agree with others anyway and always like to see a place for my place before I judge. Think I will follow your advice and visit as those crystal clear waters look so beautiful!
    My recent post Flashback Friday: That time I was attacked by vampire bats

    • waysofwanderers February 19, 2013

      They definitely are touristy, Tammy, but it's possible to find quieter areas on most of the islands. Plus, if a beach is really beautiful, I don't care that much if a lot of other people are there, I want to see it anyway!

  2. Carl February 19, 2013

    Out of the Thai islands I visited I'd agree that Tao and Phi Phi definitely lived up to the hype! Tao was my favourite place in Thailand easily. Was disappointed with Samui (big time) and Phangan though.

    Definitely agree on the love for the 'Dam though. Really hope to get back there at some point!
    My recent post That Time I Took a Bow – The Liebster Blogging Award

    • waysofwanderers February 19, 2013

      I don't regret visiting any of the Thai islands – they were all gorgeous; but I agree, some are certainly better than others!

  3. Julika February 20, 2013

    Great picks! You definitely just got me to put more destinations on the to-travel-to-list! I like how you chose places with a strong connection to water – that always seems to do the trick for me too!

    • waysofwanderers February 21, 2013

      That's a perfect opportunity – it's a really cool city, so you should definitely check it out.! Just sitting out by the canals there and people-watching is an awesome experience.

  4. Sofia February 21, 2013

    I totally agree on all of them! I was really hoping that Venice would be as amazing as I expected, and it was!! The only thing that disappointed me there was the food, but fortunately there are plenty of other cities in Italy that more than makes up for that! 😉
    My recent post Life in Berlin: Hip Prenzlauer Berg

    • waysofwanderers February 21, 2013

      I liked the food, Sofia, but I just found it much more expensive than the rest of Italy for what you got. I had good meals there, but definitely not my favourites in the country.

  5. Jessica Wray February 21, 2013

    Thai Islands for sure. Yeah, they are touristy…but they are amazing! And there are also so many of them. Can't wait to spend some time in Luang Prabang as well. You described it so well, I was sold 🙂

    • waysofwanderers February 21, 2013

      I really hope you go! I have a country-crush on Laos in general, and Luang Prabang, in particular, is just an amazing place.

  6. John February 24, 2013

    Have only been to Amsterdam and Venice from this list, but I would have to agree with them both. Venice is obviously very touristy, but there really is nothing like walking those narrow lanes.
    My recent post An All Around Bad Day

    • waysofwanderers February 25, 2013

      Yep – even though Venice was so crowded there are a bunch of other tourists inadvertently photo-bombing every one of my pictures, I still love it there.

  7. Curious Nomad March 1, 2013

    Venice is a charming city. Getting lost by walking around was a fun way to explore. The Secret Itineraries tour at the Doge's Palace is worth checking out. I'd love to check out the other cities you mentioned.
    My recent post Afternoon in Toledo

    • waysofwanderers March 2, 2013

      I agree – getting lost is the right way to see Venice. I've never heard of the Secret Itineraries tour – maybe something to check out next time!

  8. jod3ci June 27, 2013

    I can certainly vouch for Venice! Now, it's time to plan a trip to the Thai isles!

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