Lunchtime Poll

Lunchtime Poll: 5/10

Today’s LTP is about traveling. One of the best things about going to a new place is getting to see a new setting, a new climate, and maybe even a new culture. But sometimes you travel somewhere and it’s nothing like you thought it would be.

So I’d like to know: what city or country have you traveled to, only to be completely surprised that it was entirely unlike what you expected? For example: some people travel to London and don’t expect to see tall modern buildings. I went to LA for the first time and couldn’t believe Hollywood wasn’t right on the ocean (yeah, I know now that’s Santa Monica!).

…it’s your turn!

Photo: Getty

19 replies on “Lunchtime Poll: 5/10”

One place I was just surprised I liked was Salt Lake City. I was there for work and thought it was gorgeous – prior to that, all I had thought about it was related to Mormons, and I never stopped to realize that it was right there on mountains and had great architecture.

On a related note, Detroit. I expected to be grossed out and hate it, but really the old architecture was beautiful and it still makes me sad to think about how that city is declining.

I always expect new places to be like, terrifying and intimidating (and some have been, like when I stayed at a €2/night hostel in Cairo, which was, uh, horrible), but then most of them are totally normal cities where people happen to mostly speak some other language and where a lot of the buildings are older than the ones in the US. Or like, totally adorable castle-cities, as in the case of Krakow. But in any case, not terrifying or intimidating usually.

for me it was NYC. I couldn’t believe how dirty it is especially the subway. I’ve been to Mexico City right before the first time I’ve been to NYC (like 15 years ago) and it was spotless compare to NY. The whole city look way less clean as it seems on TV (stupid I know…).

Tucson. I went there expecting gorgeous vistas, adobe walls, and a quirky folk from Barbara Kingsolver novel. Instead, it was trailer parks, vinyl siding, and snaggletoothed meth heads.

That’s not to say that there aren’t beautiful vistas, adobe walls, and quirky folk – it just they’re only very specific parts of town and are outnumbered by the other stuff.

I have been told by several people that east asia is just not very good on the coffee front. So when I went to Taipei last year, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that you can get really really good coffee on almost every block. In fact, the coffee scene there is way better than where I live in the US.

My submission for the places that are not as you imagine- rural Quebec. I biked from Montreal to Quebec City and back last summer. Rural Quebec, I was told, was a rude place where no one would forgive me for not speaking French. In actuality, people are sweet and friendly. Best night- ended up camping in a trailer park and going to a line dance with the community. Almost no one spoke English, but it was so fun and friendly.

That’s actually very reassuring. I currently live in Montreal and am about to move to Ottawa. Before leaving Quebec, I wanted to hit up some of the more quintessential Quebec villages with my S.O., but I was hesitating about doing it because I had heard the same thing about rural Quebecers! I guess I’ll have to reconsider!

I absolutely loved Quebec! loved it! People were so nice. My advice is, try to speak even a bit of french- even if it’s just to ask if they can help you find someone who speaks English- they seem to find it funny and endearing. Also, if you use condoms, bring them with! We stopped in tons of towns were you cannot buy them, and asking sweet old ladies in broken french is really awful!

This is a question rather than a story- I’m going to Brazil next winter. The trip is the in the early stages of planning. I will be visiting my partner’s family (near Sao Paulo), but I’ll be there for a month. Where should I go? What would I not expect to be the case? Dating a Brazilian from a poor family/background means I’m pretty aware of the poverty/disparity/excessive wealth. I know who Lula is and what he accomplished. As you might gather from the screenname, I’m studying the language. Sunblock? Check. Fake wallet for mugging in Rio? Check. Anything else? Where should I go? Isla Grande? Amazon?

For me, I think this was Cambodia. I had no idea how pervasive the effects of the Khmer Rouge are, even today. S21 in Phenom Pehn is in the middle of the city (which makes sense given that it was originally a school), a tour guide we hired for a day had hidden in the jungle for years during Pol Pot’s regime, and Ankor Wat is really off in the jungle.

I was really taken with the whole country, I entertain the idea of a 2-year contract there with the CDC after I graduate, we’ll see.

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