Last year there were over 582 million international tourist arrivals in Europe. Hate to break it to you, but your favorite cities are overrun with hawkers peddling cheap Chinese made Eiffel Towers and tours to see a “real” Flamenco dancer and sample “authentic” French cuisine. It can be quite overwhelming trying to carve out your own little piece of the Euro life, let alone walk down the streets in some cities. Unfortunately, some have taken it one toke over the line. The culture has moved elsewhere and your presence serves as nothing but a cash dispensary. Here are the top 3 tourist cities to avoid.
When you think of tourist hell complete with non-stop pestering about tours and boat rides and the world’s largest toothpick museum and other worthless made for fanny pack wearing, camera toting buffoons, it has to start with Prague. What used to be an off the beaten path cheap alternative to Western Europe in the 80’s has gone mainstream. Prices have risen, bargains are fewer and far between and streets are lined with vendors. Crossing the famous Charles Bridge shouldn’t be as daunting as tiptoeing through a minefield in Syria! It is nearly impossible to get a photo of any significant sight in Prague without some guy’s arm in your photo. Disney World doesn’t feel as touristy as Prague. Tell your hippie Uncle times have changed.
While Prague is relatively new to tourist hell, London is old school. It’s been hell for a long time! There hasn’t been a time in year’s you could walk down the streets in peace and take in the Tower of London or Big Ben. Prices are from another planet, averaging over $10 a beer in a pub and having the distinction of one of the most expensive Metro systems in the world. Trying to get off the tourist trail in London will only lead you to a dodgy neighborhood complete with drunks howling at the moon by night and shady characters pilfering drugs on the corner. Masses of humanity flood the streets looking for fish n’ chips and the opportunity to ride a double decker bus to Buckingham Palace only to find everybody else has the same idea.
Last but not least, pulling up the rear is Madrid. For all the beauty in Spain, Madrid is the epicenter of degeneration. Graffiti, trash, scammers peddling phone cards and jewelry, tour operators offering the “authentic” Spanish experience. Never mind that bull-fighting and Flamenco are not rooted in Madrid. Lurking in every alley downtown, sketchy characters by night trying to sell marijuana and ecstasy will conjure scenes from “Locked up Abroad”. Throngs of Lonely Planet reading Westerns descend upon the historical areas, making it nearly impossible to get a real glimpse of history. Spain has so many wonderful areas, this isn’t one of them.
With so many beautiful destinations in Europe, one shouldn’t fret over skipping these traps, in fact, one should rejoice in the opportunity to see some real culture!