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Old 01-23-2010, 09:15 PM   #61
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Have to agree with the comments about Egypt. It was disappointing when you went to the pyramids and you could see the cesspool of Cairo in the background. The Sphinx I was expecting something on a far greater scale than it was. Then the Nile, I had a romantic vision of Cleopatra floating down on her boat, but it was nothing more than a filthy stream of murky water which would would not dare want to immerse your body in. As for the locals, the amount of harassment was off the scale. The highlight of the trip for me was undoubtedly the Egyptian Museum, such a fascination collection, you could spend days there and I say that as a non-Museum type of person.
We went to Egypt late in 2008, and it definitely didn't disappoint. We didn't like the pyramids at Giza much because it was a circus. We took a taxi to Dahshur first, which isn't visited as often because it's about 1.5 hrs outside of Cairo. This guy's website has some good pictures:

Dahshur pyramids

One of the most surreal experiences of my life. There were *2* people there with us. We went into all the way into the oldest pyramid in the world (about 4500 years old) down a narrow stairway to the central chamber. The Bent Pyramid is interesting too, one of the first pyramids constructed and you can see that they messed up the angle of the pyramid and had to adjust it in the middle of the construction! After visiting Dahshur and Saqqara, Giza was less interesting for sure, especially since we, like you, expected the Sphinx to be much larger!

We took a Nile cruise and although we got sick on it (all except for our son, thank God!), really enjoyed the beautiful temples we visited on the way, especially the Valley of the Kings. It's hard to believe that such vibrant colors in the paintings have been there over 3500 years! I thought the Nile was unlike any boat trip either, not too many places you see camels grazing alongside cattle with dahabiyas (traditional Egyptian boats) floating alongside. Admittedly, tt's not a luxurious spa experience.

The historical variety was just amazing, mosques built on top of Christian sites which themselves were built on pharaohnic sights! You can visit a 2000 year old church and realize that Egypt has places that were already 2500 years old when the church was built! I'm not a history buff by any means, but Egypt constantly made be shake my head in wonder.

We also didn't get harassed much at all (and I've heard everyone gets harassed) probably because we traveled with a toddler so the very-family-oriented Egyptians would constantly want to interact with our son.
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Old 01-23-2010, 09:34 PM   #62
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At the risk of offending all of Texas, I must confess that I was very disappointed the first time I saw the Alamo. After watching all those westerns of my childhood, I envisioned the Alamo as this enormous fort surrounded by thousands of acres of open land...not this smallish building down the street from the Hyatt Regency. Once I toured it, however, I can appreciate its importance to history..but still, it looked so small!

The other disappointment was Mt. Rushmore. We drove to see it after spending three weeks camping in Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons, so my expectation was that Rushmore was more on the scale of the Rockies. We drove into the parking lot and there it was. Again, once we learned how Gutzon Borglum and his crew carved the sculptures from the rock, it was much more impressive, but that first view was a big "is that it?"

On the other hand, watching the sun rise over the rim of the Grand Canyon ranks as one of the most impressive sights I've experienced. YMMV

(BTW, I have to admit that I was at Walt Disney World on October 1, 1971, the day it opened for business.)
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Old 01-23-2010, 10:07 PM   #63
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I don't think I can get excited or impressed by any city in any industrialized country. I guess I've been to too many big cities, so they all are the same to me.
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Old 01-24-2010, 12:25 AM   #64
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At the risk of offending all of Texas, I must confess that I was very disappointed the first time I saw the Alamo. After watching all those westerns of my childhood, I envisioned the Alamo as this enormous fort surrounded by thousands of acres of open land...not this smallish building down the street from the Hyatt Regency. Once I toured it, however, I can appreciate its importance to history..but still, it looked so small!
Hey... the truth is the truth.... it WAS a lot bigger... but like most places it was whittled away... down to almost nothing... and I would agree... it you are going to San Antonio just to see the Alamo, you WILL be disappointed...


As for Egypt again.. (sorry, just want to get a few more words in about it)... I DID like a number of the sites... Abu Simbel was very impressive... and more so when you find out they MOVED it... but it was a 3 hour bus ride to it and 3 hours back... (note... if you want to see it, pay the money for the flight!!!) I liked the valley of the Queens... the valley of the Kings did not impress as much, but then again, we were only there a couple of hours (if that)... I enjoyed the Nile cruise as we could only be yelled at by the people paddling up.. which was rare... and it is something to think about how OLD a lot of these places are when you think about how old America is....

I liked the Pyramids... but the locals ruin the experience... (we had to bribe a cop while there... but don't know what we did... he even asked 'are you sure'... seems I gave him the wrong bribe amount... to much!!!)... we did go into one of the smaller ones... not enough time to go into the large one..
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Old 01-24-2010, 10:16 AM   #65
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No one told me that Stonehenge was only 18 inches high. What a ripoff.
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Old 01-24-2010, 10:26 AM   #66
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Venice is not artificial, it's real - it is frozen in time and how fabulous that the snapshot has been preserved over the centuries.

Well, we're both right. Its been a tourist trap since the 18th century. (i think tourist even outnumber residents in the old city)


Getting out of the old city the place becomes somewhat more charming. But I'll take Treviso or Trieste over Venice any day.
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Old 01-24-2010, 10:36 AM   #67
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At the risk of offending all of Texas, I must confess that I was very disappointed the first time I saw the Alamo. After watching all those westerns of my childhood, I envisioned the Alamo as this enormous fort surrounded by thousands of acres of open land...not this smallish building down the street from the Hyatt Regency.
This reminded me of the time I went to see Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts. I expected it to be big - it's actually fairly small, in a roped-off area. Fortunately, it was just a side-trip when I was in the area anyway, so I didn't have much in the way of expectations. But I do recall thinking "is that it?"
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Old 01-24-2010, 02:22 PM   #68
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Not that it was that much of a disappointment, but I'd have to say Prague. It was so hyped to be this cool, hip place to go, and maybe a few years ago it was, but when we went last year it was pretty pricey, with restaurants that overcharge tourists (apparently if you make an attempt to speak Czech that won't happen), and touristy. The Charles Bridge was under reconstruction and was just lined with people selling crap or wanting to draw your caricature. We had an ok time, but it was far from charming, and I don't understand what all of the people who said it was their favorite European city were talking about.

Another disappointment was the Deutches Museum in Munich. It was really stuffy, crowded, and looked like it hadn't been updated in years. Usually it's a matter of deciding where I want to spend my time in a big museum, but nothing really grabbed me here and we didn't stay that long. In contrast, I found Science Museum in London absolutely fascinating, with some great hands-on exhibits that really explained the concepts, not just buttons for kids to pound on.
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Old 01-24-2010, 07:25 PM   #69
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No one told me that Stonehenge was only 18 inches high. What a ripoff.


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Old 01-24-2010, 08:30 PM   #70
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No one told me that Stonehenge was only 18 inches high. What a ripoff.
LMAO!!!
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Old 01-24-2010, 09:28 PM   #71
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Not that it was that much of a disappointment, but I'd have to say Prague. It was so hyped to be this cool, hip place to go, and maybe a few years ago it was, but when we went last year it was pretty pricey, with restaurants that overcharge tourists
Yup. Praha kinda sucked. Plenty of lovely places in Czech Republic but that wasn't it, our vacation definitely took a turn for the better after we took the train to Dresden in Germany.

Dresden was absolutely wonderful, would do again anytime as long as not winter.
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Old 01-26-2010, 11:01 AM   #72
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I guess that I am the dissenting voice on Stonehenge. I liked it! On the other hand, I had so many people give me the "it is just a pile of rocks" speech before I went that I benefited from lower expectations.

The one place that I didn't care for was Hilton Head---I am not golfer so I didn't find anything there--also the weather was not great when I was there.
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Old 01-26-2010, 11:35 AM   #73
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On the other hand, I can think of many places I've been that provided unexpected pleasures. One that sticks in my mind is looking down on the evening mist from my hotel in a little French town called Domme, which sits on top of a hill. It was one of the most romantic places I've ever been to. This is the hotel: Hôtel Domme.*Hôtel L'Esplanade Domme.*Hôtel restaurant Domme
Meadbh...Thanks for the Hotel Domme recommedation. We are heading to that part of France this year and it appears to be just what we are looking for.

As for our biggest disappointment it was New Zealand. I had been wanting to visit there for 20 years with the hopes of living there 3-4 months every year in retirement. Hard to pin point exactly what it was but my wife and I looked at each other on day 3 and shook our heads no at the same time. Guess we thought it would be more like England which I found immaculate.
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Old 01-26-2010, 11:56 AM   #74
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Whew..haven't seen any complaints about Yellowstone. Been there when I was younger a couple of times. Planning on taking my UK wife and her parents there when I retire in 2 years. Days drive from Spokane....they like the animal thing.....I like the physical science part (damn....too much teaching science).....Sept when the kids go back to school is the plan.
Yellowstone is really neat for the geology (geysers, etc.) and wildlife and some views like Yellowstone Falls are spectacular. But for non-stop scenic grandeur, you really need to stop at Grand Teton National Park on the way. That place always blows me away even though I have been there many times.

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Old 01-26-2010, 12:02 PM   #75
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I guess that I am the dissenting voice on Stonehenge. I liked it! On the other hand, I had so many people give me the "it is just a pile of rocks" speech before I went that I benefited from lower expectations.

The one place that I didn't care for was Hilton Head---I am not golfer so I didn't find anything there--also the weather was not great when I was there.
Yep - I really enjoyed Stonehenge too - especially when I realized (on site) how old it really was.

I haven't come up with any disappointing destinations yet. I tend to avoid overly developed/commercial tourist areas/parks (like Disney whatever) and things like cruises or resort hotels. I already know I don't like those things. That seems to keep disappointment at bay. Maybe I never expect anything special and that helps - in fact I am usually not expecting that much at first so I am often pleasantly surprised.

We've traveled extensively only real travel disappointments we have experienced have been stuck with a group of boring/passive people. It only happened once when we traveled with a more generic group rather than with a group focused on photography or bird-watching or nature focus. From that I learned to only join a group that had some purpose other than being led around by the nose and spoon fed information.

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Old 01-26-2010, 12:50 PM   #76
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Yellowstone is really neat for the geology (geysers, etc.) and wildlife and some views like Yellowstone Falls are spectacular. But for non-stop scenic grandeur, you really need to stop at Grand Teton National Park on the way. That place always blows me away even though I have been there many times.

Audrey
Audrey,
I guess you are our main camping queen, so.
Any tips/advice on time of year to make such a trip pulling a 5th wheeler?
I have zero experience in high mountain roadways (other than the smokies), ice conditions and I don't think I want any. Especially the Ice part.
I've always thought a trip to this area would be fantastic. Now that I'm officially retired I might actually get to plan something.
We have also considered the week long train rides. Anybody have experience with those?
Steve
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Old 01-26-2010, 01:31 PM   #77
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The one place that I didn't care for was Hilton Head---I am not golfer so I didn't find anything there--also the weather was not great when I was there.
Ouch, I was planning on vacationing there this summer... I am not a golfer either.

My 2 biggest destination disappointments have been Florida (Miami, Key West, Orlando/Disney World) and Southern California. DW is from SC so she sold it to me pretty hard and I had very high expectations. But it's not my cup of tea.
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Old 01-26-2010, 01:44 PM   #78
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Audrey,
I guess you are our main camping queen, so.
Any tips/advice on time of year to make such a trip pulling a 5th wheeler?
I have zero experience in high mountain roadways (other than the smokies), ice conditions and I don't think I want any. Especially the Ice part.
I've always thought a trip to this area would be fantastic. Now that I'm officially retired I might actually get to plan something.
We have also considered the week long train rides. Anybody have experience with those?
Steve
Well, I haven't driven a big rig through there, although I have been through many times and the main roads are OK. The passes from the south are not high. The campgrounds are only open when there is no ice, etc - close in mid-Oct usually, so as long as you travel in these "open" months, you should be OK. You will not catch me driving the big rig if there is ice on the road.

The main road coming up from the south via Jackson Hole and through Grand Teton NP should be fine. Most of the campgrounds are no hookups. But there is a campground on Lake Jackson (Colter Bay?) that has hookups in Grand Teton NP, and another privately owned one between GTNP and Yellowstone NP. I think I would stay in that area and do day trips into Yellowstone.

Otherwise, there is a no hookup campground in the center near Old Faithful Inn which I think may be OK and that is good base also for day tripping and close to most of the geological wonders. And full facility campgrounds in West Yellowstone which is also a good location to travel from. I would go through the park from the south to get to West Yellowstone.

I recommend you look at RV Park Reviews :: Home to get more ideas about the RV accommodations.

Audrey

P.S. If you have driven across the smokies with your rig, that is pretty good experience for the western mountains. There are some high passes, but with the exception of crossing the rockies within the state of Colorado, most of the passes (major roads) are gradual except for short sections.
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Old 01-26-2010, 02:10 PM   #79
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Echoing what Audrey says, you do not want to drive in or out of Yellowstone to the east (Cody, WY) in an RV. I've done it in a car but wouldn't want to try it in our big rig - or even a small one.

I think the shoulder seasons are best as far as crowds go - late May or early September when most kids are in school.
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Old 01-26-2010, 02:32 PM   #80
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Carmel was a disappointment for me. Too commercial, much preferred Monterey.

Taos, NM was also disappointing.

Me and the kids really disliked Disneyworld too. It seemed to be nothing but stores to buy Disney merchandise. And very crowded.

Agreed as almost every ride ends in a gift shop!
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