Perception Vs. Reality – Tourist Attraction Surprises

Its easy to build up expectations before some of the world’s most famous attractions based on photos, travel guide hype, or even just imagined perceptions.  But sometimes the reality can lead to tourist attractions surprises.

I remember being shocked when I first visited Red Square in Moscow in 1989.  I always imagined it as being much larger than it actually was.  St. Basil’s Cathedral always loomed so large in the background of Cold War era news reports that I imagined it to be many stories tall.  When I realized it as a relatively normal sized structure on a hill, I was disappointed (although I’ll admit that the colorful onion domes are still stunning)!

This article in the Huffington Post last year caught my eye because of such misperceptions.  Like those in the piece, I too was underwhelmed by the Mona Lisa when I finally visited, perhaps because of the crowds and the distance I had to stand from the smaller-than-expected portrait.

I now have at least adjusted my expectations for my planned Grand Mediterranean cruise this fall – I know now that Pisa is a quick photo opportunity and not to expect crowd-free shots at the Trevi Fountain.  But I’m further inspired to check up further on my other ports (even though I hate travel planning).  With so many marque stops, surely there are other tourist attraction surprises I need to be prepared for.

What destination served up tourist attraction surprises for you?  Sound off in the comments below….

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