The Top 8 Places You Should Visit, But Actually Shouldn’t
#1) Beijing, China
PROS: Proletariat Center of the Communist universe, this (arguably charming) Chinese capital is anything but boring. Remarkably odd yet fascinating architecture emerge out of centuries old Hutongs providing a glimpse of the city’s decidedly Maoist past with an obligatory nod to the future largely ushered in by the 2008 Olympic Games hosted in Beijing. If it is happening in China, it is happening here. Can’t miss: The humbling Bird’s Nest Olympic Stadium. Rumor has it you can take tours of it on a Segway. Needless to say, it is bound to boost your Instagram following within minutes.
Cons: The smog in Beijing basically creates an atmosphere tantamount to that of Venus. By FDA standards, the air quality is considered to be, at best, “Hazardous”, having recently urged American tourists and foreign workers to leave their houses or places of employment and hide in disaster shelters. Meanwhile, the People’s Party in Beijing regards the smog as just another Sunday in the Park with George. Paris would literally be burning in smog this bad…
Alternative: Shanghai, China
Upon entering Shanghai, you immediately are left with one defining impression, Mega Man 2. That is, in the Nintendo video game kind of way. What started as a French colony, eventually was handed off to the British, subsequently becoming the, “Pearl of Asia”. Though Maoist economic & cultural policies have certainly run their course through this once breath-taking metropolis, the city’s stock is certainly up as it has recently been recognized as a Free Capital Zone thus allowing for (almost) unadulterated capitalism, making it the Financial (and FUN) capital of the People’s Republic of China. Bonus points if you’re an ‘Indiana Jones & The Temple of Doom’ fan. Remember that awesome opening scene? Yup. Shanghai, circa 1941. Beat THAT Beijing!
#2) Cairo, Egypt
Pros: Those pyramids on the outskirts in Cairo are actually quite amazing. The rest of Cairo, well, isn’t so amazing. Fact: In Egypt, if you leave your building/skyscraper unfinished, you therefore avoid paying property taxes on the structure. Subsequently, you’ll be hard pressed to find any sort of large-scale construction project completely finished. Its like if New York City just gave up on the 90th floor of the Empire State Building, laughing to themselves, “at least we pulled a fast one on old Uncle Sam.” Sadly, Cairo, the joke is on you… and your failed attempt at infrastructure.
Cons: As if traveling isn’t stressful enough with flight connections, language barriers and most likely your boyfriend, Cairo throws in political instability. The last thing you need to deal with is some sort of uprising or revolution. Not now, not on THIS vacation.
Alternative: Istanbul, Turkey
Located just kitty-corner from Cairo on the Mediterranean Sea, this ancient city can boast to being, at one point, the capital of the Roman Empire, then Byzantine Empire, and ultimately the Ottoman Empire. The cultural bounty left by antiquity is made evident in the magnificent architecture teaming throughout Istanbul. Providing tourists with sturdy infrastructure and a current (though somewhat tense at recent times) sense of political stability. Istanbul offers any adventurous traveler an incredible glimpse into the Arab world.
#3) Tampa Bay, Florida
Pros: There’s a Beach. Plus, Magic Mike allegedly takes place here.
Cons: Everything about Tampa Bay!
Alternative: Key West, FL
While both cities are known for their lack of sobriety. In Tampa Bay, you’re getting ‘Girls Gone Wild’ meets ‘Cougar Town’. Conversely, Key West is an island that collectively says, “I gave up on life years ago. Pour me another!” It’s good when a city can self-actualize. Cool Caribbean breezes keep things nice & easy. The island is sprawling with bars, bros and those shady back alleys where trouble always seems to find you… right Andy?!
#4) Geneva, Switzerland
Pros: Lavish. Luxurious. This is the perfect place to mention you’ve traveled to while on a job interview. “Quite honestly, I’ve never known laughter like that one summer in Gevena…”
Cons: Literally one of the most boring cities on earth, up there with Fargo, North Dakota & Brussels
Alternative: Annecy, France
Geographically, Annecy is only a short distance from Geneva, though you feel like you’re worlds away. The people (and we’re talking the French here) are warm, inviting, and genuinely want you to have a magical experience. The town is on a crystal clear blue lake, surrounded by what could only be sugar covered mountain peaks. If Candy Land existed on Earth, it would be Annecy.
#5) Grand Canyon, Arizona, USA
Pro: You can’t deny, it gets a LOT of amazing PR.
Cons: At the end of the day, it really is just a big ravine, in the desert, literally hundreds of miles from anything.
Alternative: Redwoods of California
Talk about natural wonders of the world, and probably one of the coolest national parks ever. They named the 2nd and 3rd tallest trees after gods from ‘Lord of the Rings’, Melkor & Iluvatar. Major bonus points for the Dept. of the Interior. You can camp, hike, mountain bike, or just revel in the shear mass of these incredible structures.
#7) Scandinavia (Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland)
Pros: Obviously it has all that important but boring European stuff like heritage museums & parks. Highlights include such historical figures as Leif Erickson (who discovered Iceland AND Greenland) Grendel’s Mother (famously played by Angelina Jolie) and obviously Beowulf.
More importantly though, almost everyone I know has a friend who studied abroad in Sweden or Norway during college. Across the board, they all swear, that the women up there are basically a secret society of models who hide in the cold north so as to protect their secret to eternal beauty. Fact!
Cons: Gorgeous natives or not, if its literally freezing outside, what are you going to do with all those hot people? Well, I have a few suggestions, but, that only takes like 10-15 minutes, then what? Plus, the food there is kind of, well, it involves a lot of salted fish soaked in lye. We’ll just put it that way.
Alternative: The Netherlands
Basically the whole country is one big city easily connected by mass transit and magical windmills. The people are all quite tall and almost as hot as the Swedes. Even better, most Dutch citizens love to party and especially love to Party when they win Speed Skating Medals at the Olympics.
To make matters even better, there are tulips everywhere and the country’s favorite color is Orange. Have I mentioned that their coffee shop menus are WAY better than any Starbucks you’ll find?
#8) Prague, Czech Republic
PROS: The city was once the capital of the Astro-Hungarian Empire. Many of the incredible architectural wonders built in Prague was during the Hapsburg dynasty, which basically means, “I’ve been around the block.” Countless market squares, taverns teeming with locals laughing with friends and even a curious astrological clock tower, which if rumor has it, is where Maleficent lived. Prague was, after all, Disney’s inspiration for ‘Sleeping Beauty’.
CONS: Prague also inspired the ‘HOSTEL’ film series, which gives credence to that old saying, “The mirror has two faces”. While Prague is nice for an afternoon with your girlfriend, you can roughly see ALL of Prague in about 3 hours. Then, you get tired, head back to your youth hostel, and things can go downhill real fast.
ALTERNATIVE: Berlin, Germany
The reason why no one immediately thinks of Berlin, is because what happens in Berlin, stays in Berlin! It’s Europe’s version of Vegas, but with more leather. Since reunification in 1989, it has been the playground of the German cultural art scene. Famous for their clubs, they are so exclusive, in order to get in, you have to find it first. The hottest clubs actually move location each day, hence why Germans invented the word ‘Zeitgeist’. Sometimes these clubs take place in an abandoned factory or even Der Reichstag. It is Berlin after all.
Think the opening scene in ‘Blade’ but with a German accent. A magnificent maelstrom swirling with history, politics, Discoteks and anything else anyone could ever want.
Once you go there, you’ll understand. Don’t take my word for it, just ask our sassy friend Klaus, the quintessential Berlin Bear, who reminds any and all who visit his lovely capital, “Willkommen!”