As great as certain tourist attractions and landmarks can be, there’s always a level of expectation surrounding them.
If the attraction surpasses your expectations, your experience is guaranteed to be positive. As you’ve probably established over the past few months, we’ve had many of these experiences.
However unfortunately as travelers, too often we visit a destination and unrealistically expect it to blow our minds and/or change our lives.
After arriving at the attraction, the reality is quite different which leads to disappointment.
Travel Talk on Twitter, a weekly social media travel event, last week asked, “What’s the most over-rated landmark in your experience?”. We saw answers such as:
“The Leaning Tower was pretty overrated… too many tourists and it’s a bit in the middle of nowhere.”
“I’m gonna say it…Notre Dame. It pales in comparison to La Sainte Chapelle just down the street.”
It’s safe to assume that the negative perspective towards these landmarks is due to the attraction falling well below that traveler’s expectations.
To some, The Leaning Tower of Pisa is simply a building constructed on the wrong foundation rather than a sight to see. Notre Dame Cathedral might be considered small but perhaps only to those who aren’t familiar with the building’s architecture and history.
That’s why we think random travel experiences are the best.
We’ve read about travelers who purposely get lost in a city so they can have a fuller, more in-depth travel experience. For the two of us, we visited more developed nations which made it hard to get lost but even while we were in the USA, we still managed to find several things we weren’t looking for that became some of our travel highlights.
Here are three of our favorite random travel experiences from our around-the-world trip in 2011.
Riding in a Limousine in St. Louis
After a 6-hour bus ride from Chicago, we arrived at Union Station in St. Louis and tiredly searched for a cab to bring us to our hotel downtown.
The two of us wandered around for a few minutes before finally approaching the doormen at the Marriott Hotel attached to the station. We told them where we were going and they said they could do it for $10. Overpriced, sure, but all we wanted to do by now is get to our hotel and relax!
We thought that they had a taxi waiting, but as we walked past a couple of cars the only one left for us was a stretch limousine. Bingo!
If only they had given us a room upgrade after arriving in such style.
Seeing Michael Jordan in Chicago
I grew up in the 90’s obsessed with basketball and although my favorite player was Hakeem Olajuwon, Michael Jordan ranked a very close second.
As we finished up exploring the Magnificent Mile in Chicago, the two of us were walking towards the closest subway station when we saw a somewhat large crowd forming. Intrigued, we headed over to the crowd to see what was happening.
Michael Jordan was opening his brand new steakhouse tonight.
Despite having dinner plans, we couldn’t miss this! So we stuck around for over an hour until Air Jordan arrived in his black Bentley and rushed inside. It was a shame he didn’t stop to acknowledge the crowd (and let us get a better photo!) but it was still an awesome experience regardless.
The Today Show in New York City
The two of us headed into Times Square to see the Lion King on Broadway but had a few hours to waste beforehand. Again we were drawn in by a crowd forming and were surprised to see a live recording of The Today Show – a popular Australian breakfast television program.
We’d been on the road for nearly 3 months and the only face-to-face contact we’d had with family and friends was via average quality Skype chats. We excitedly called and texted everyone we knew in Australia and several of them managed to see us in the front row of The Today Show singing along with the crew to Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York”.
Pretty cool, huh?
What’s the best random travel experience you’ve had while on the road?