The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly | The Truth About Travel

Obviously, I love to travel. Each and every time we arrive in a new city or country, I have that moment of awe and excitement. I get the traveller butterflies! I look around and take in the scenery, connect with images that I have seen in my guide books and Pinterest, and settle in for a new adventure. However, I have to be honest.....there are some parts of travel that are unexpected and not so pretty. While I am able to arrange a post full of all the beautiful moments on our travels, I never really share any of the bad bits (cause who wants to read about that anyway...give me the pretties!!). 

But today, I though I would share some of our not so beautiful moments in a few of the places we have been.
The Good, The Bad and The Ugly if you will.

Paris



I think it's a safe bet to say that many people either love or dislike Paris, but I feel like I fell somewhere in between. Had I been running on all cylinders, I think I could have enjoyed the 4 days in Paris a little more. And I feel like I for sure need a second round!


Good

Gorgeous, postcard worthy scenes, beautiful architecture, fabulous people, yummy food. It's all there. While my favorite view was from my apartment window, I still just had to pinch myself walking past some of the famous sights. And sitting in the Tulieries garden was just one of the best spots to relax. Paris is beautiful. 

Bad
 Expensive. Like seriously, ridiculously, expensive. I think we had two coffees, one pastry, and one egg breakfast...$50 easy. Dinner, $125 easy, without a bottle of wine! I know we weren't at 'expensive' places. It was just pure insanity. So be ready to empty your pockets in Paris!

Ugly
The dirty and not so beautiful parts of Paris. I wasn't ready for it or expecting it. I thought Paris was all glamour and fabulousness. But take these scenes and imagine it at night. Peddlers and general sketchiness line the streets. It can be overwhelming. 

via
via
So maybe I was a little naive about the crusty side of Paris. But hey, you live and you learn. 
On to the next!

Greece


Good
Too many things in Greece, sun, sea, sand and FOOD!! Oh, and let's not forget the wine. Am I unknowingly from Greek descent? I felt right at home in the Greek Isles! The colors, the people, the sea air, I. Loved. It. All. Please, go to Greece if you get the chance. Just go!


Bad 
You know how you aren't supposed to drink the water in Mexico? Yeah, well it's kinda like that here. And on Mykonos, even our shower water had a horrible sulphur smell. But luckily bottled water is inexpensive and is sold everywhere. It's just something you have to get used too. 

Ugly
This must be an island thing? But when you use the toilet, you can't flush any paper down. It must be thrown in the trash. Gross right? Our hotel trash cans were cleaned promptly each day, but the whole idea of it really grossed me out, especially in public restrooms at restaurants and such. I was relieved when we made it to Athens and I could flush with no worries.

Next!

Rome



Good
The history, the food...I mean it's Italy! And let's not forget the gorgeous Italian language. I literally could just listen to Italians chat all day! Rome's history is just incredible and I thoroughly enjoyed our visit to the Colosseum and the Vatican City. 


Bad
Again, the dirtiness shocked me a bit like in Paris. If you wander the streets on a Sunday morning before the street cleaners get out, be ready for some nasty sights stuck in the cobblestones. I even saw a dead rat at one point. Bleh. Not a very appetising sight. But the truth is is that thousands and thousands of people are visiting Rome every day and they are bound to leave a mess behind. It happens. 

Ugly
So I posted previously about staying in Trastevere. And I loved staying in this area, especially in the evening. Well, until late at night. It was November when we visited and it was still quite warm so we had our windows open up on the second floor. I heard some chatter out on our street at about 4am and went to close the window. And that's when I saw it. A girl literally was peeing right outside the door. WHAT?! 
When in Rome?

Next!


Amsterdam

Good

The gorgeous streets along the canals and the cheese!! I could wander the streets of Amsterdam forever. It never got old. It was completely picturesque, just like you imagine it to be. I would absolutely return in a heartbeat!

Bad
Not too terrible of a thing, but the rain. It seems to rain a lot in Amsterdam. Just get ready.

Ugly
Not too terrible again, but the lax on laws can make for some interesting scenes on the streets at night. Especially around the Red Light District. 


As you can see, I have only listed a handful of places. In general, we have had some amazing journeys where there really wasn't anything to complain about or call 'ugly'. But I want to lend some transparency to our travels. I can see how travel bloggers can create some major travel envy but the truth is...it's not always fabulous, but it's always an experience! And that's what matters. 

Do you have a travel horror story? Have you travelled somewhere and it was not what you expected?



51 comments

  1. Seems like Amsterdam won the "Good Bad & Ugly" awards in your eyes! I didn't know that about Greece (although of course, I will be going there this summer for the first time) that you shouldn't drink the tap water there! Do you think at nicer resorts you can flush the TP? :P

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  2. Yeah...kinda just through Amsterdam in there haha!! Where are you going in Greece? I don't know....they seem to have plumbling probs on all of the island. Newer places may have better plumbing, although our hotel in Mykonos seemed very up to date....

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  3. Ha ha, yeah you are right travel is not always picture perfect. Actually just wrote a post about that myself :) I am one of those who don't like Paris (so many will like to beat me when I say that), but I have promised myself I will go back again (for the third time), and really try to change my impression. It is expensive and I just don't find the romance or whatever people are on about. Will try to change doh. Greece I have been to a few times and trying to go back this summer (haven't been there since 2002). The toilet paper thing is no biggie, I've grown up with holidays to our cabin without water and electricity so simple life I'm used to:) Anyway, even though travellers like us have bad experiences it doesn't stop us from travelling anywhere:)

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  4. Love this way of looking at travels! I am not the biggest fan of Paris, I find it so dirty and a bit overwhelming that it lost its charm for me.

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  5. I ran into the toilet paper thing in southern Spain, too. I was at a restaurant and there was a sign on the back of the stall door (in Spanish) and I was pretty sure it said to throw TP in the trash, but I wasn't completely sure, so I flushed it. Then the next day we were at another cafe and again there was a sign on the stall door, but this time it had a picture and I realized I had read my Spanish right the first time. :) Should have thrown the TP in the trash. I really don't understand it either. Maybe it keeps the pipes from blocking up?

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  6. A lot of countries don't have the same wastewater treatment facilities, I remember encountering the toilet paper in the trash for the first time in Venezuela and thinking how weird it was. My dad runs a treatment plant so was explaining it, but it would be really costly to change everything. As it is my dad has problems at the plants he runs because people flush towels! Then everything blocks up. People chuck everything down their toilets it seems.

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  7. I had some pretty sketchy/bad experiences in Paris which just put me off the entire trip! I was just not expecting that!

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  8. I think knowing about the Bad and the Ugly can be just as important as the Good sometimes. But I really hate surprises, so if I have some warning ahead of time to deal with the unsavory things it will be better for me! I used to feel like a jerk for not being totally in love with Paris, so I'm glad I'm not the only one. There were definitely good things about Paris but I don't know if it outweighs the rest. When I was there I just remember thinking everything smelled liked sulfur.

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  9. Oh Paris and your scammers lol. We got hit with the "Oh is this your ring" scam so many times while there and the rope one by Sacre Coeur. But in a way it makes Paris, Paris... like I can't imagine NYC without all the guys trying to sell me a fake LV lol... which I did buy one when I was in HS, ha! And ewwww at the girl peeing by the door!

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  10. I totally agree with you about Paris - I also fall between the love & hate camps. It does feel so crammed and a bit dirty and grungy in parts, and no matter how many times I go I never have that moment of falling in love with it. And Amsterdam: it DOES rain a ton in NL in general, unfortunately!! I guess that makes the sunny days all that more enjoyable. The first time I went to Amsterdam I hated it, simply because my group stayed in the area right by the central station (i.e. red light and green light districts), but I'm happy to report that unlike with Paris, I have totally come around and absolutely love it now :)

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  11. I didn't know that about Greece, ick! The peddlers in Paris can be so frustrating. But for me they were the worst in Rome, they were just everywhere with those stupid noisy souvenirs and I tried to ignore a particularly aggressive one as I was taking photos, but he just kept getting closer. I eventually uttered a very stern no, which I'm sure really wasn't very threatening seeing as I was wearing Heidi braids at the time, hahah!


    www.ashbam.com

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  12. Love this idea for a post! I feel like it's inevitable to run into something you aren't so fond of in most cities. I had a scary moment in Paris when we walked by people smoking crack inside a metro station. Needless to say we got out of there as fast as we could. And I agree about Amsterdam -- it rained so much while we were there!

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  13. Hate to tell you, but most of the world beyond the US/major European cities don't flush toilet paper! This was everywhere in Moscow, even in the higher end places. Totally normal!

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  14. Two things. About Paris, Barbes is one of the worst spots in Paris. I know, because the apartment I stayed in was next to the metro station and I didn't feel safe walking around alone at all. I had no idea about that part of Paris until my last visit, just because all other times I was staying in Marais, which didn't feel like that at all.. And about the toilets in Greece, I have to say, for me it feels so weird flushing paper down the toilet, as I was raised in Athens and my parents were very strict about it. It's so funny that you feel the opposite way. :)

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  15. Next time you come to Paris, tell me, and I'll take you to the great places where the real French people live and the tacky tourists don't go!

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  16. What!? Thanks for the insight! I just had no idea....I now wil lbe checking into the toilet scene before we travel somewhere new haha!!

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  17. I think I would really enjoy Paris a lot more if I had the time to stay for longer than a week. I really was shocked at how I didn't just fall in love. It is a huge city though and I think that people fall in love with certain areas of Paris. And when your short on time, you don't usually stay in just one area. And no, never will bad experiences stop me from travelling!! And these aren't even bad....just the truth :)

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  18. It is totally overwhelming! I would love to just go and stay in one area and really get to know it....and then venture out.

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  19. Really in Spain? From what I've read about Greece, it's because the pipe system was built back in the 40s and the pipes were tiny. Therefore they can't handle any paper. Apparently there are some newer builds that have better plumbing, but it's rare. I can imagine it would be really difficult to redo all of it on a Greek island!

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  20. Yeah, I can imagine it would be a huge ordeal to change everything! I am now learning that this is a common practice in parts of the world haha!! It was just a little shocking for me haha!

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  21. I wasn't either! I think the way to go in Paris would be to really explore one area and then eventually venture out. Not cram it all in..ya know?

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  22. Yeah, Paris was a middle ground type feeling for me. I absolutely did not fall in love with it. Maybe weve all put too many expectations onto Paris?

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  23. Weren't the scammers annoying? Ugh. And my husband eggs them on which is even worse! But yeah, it does make Paris Paris.

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  24. Oh I fell in love with Amsterdam! And I would love to return...just kind had to through it in there :)

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  25. Totally. I blame Hemingway, among others :)

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  26. Yeah, Rome and Paris both are super annoying with their peddlers!! My husband eggs them on which makes it worse ugh! Good for you for being assertive :)

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  27. Wow, crack in the metro station! Yeah....I would have ran away as well!! Paris definitely had some sketchy areas and I really wasn't prepared for that!

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  28. Aww thanks!! I feel like I would love it so much more if I had about a month to stay :) I would totally get immersed in the more local areas!

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  29. Yeah, I know its a bad area of Paris, but I really was a little shocked! But I loved the better areas of Paris....I think I am just a middle ground person when it comes to Paris :) And the toilet thing....too funny! Shows how naive I am about toilet systems around the world!

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  30. I think sometimes travel bloggers get caught up in only sharing the "good" - I'm loving this dose of honesty :) for me, Bali was a bit of a letdown. I think I set my expectations way too high [thanks, Pinterest] and it just didn't live up. also- if you ever make it to Asia be aware a lot of countries here have the no paper flushing rule!

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  31. I love this - thanks for sharing all aspects of your trip, the good and the bad. I have to say, I was surprised by the food in Rome - I must have been going to the wrong places, because it was really disappointing. And the metro in Rome - I couldn't believe how packed it got at rush hour. I hear you on Paris - I adore the city, but I'm so over all the public peeing! I'm surprised you saw that girl in Rome and not Paris!

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  32. The bathroom thing was the same in Costa Rica, and most of Central America, really. The places we stayed in Costa Rica were cleaned out pretty frequently but some of the public restrooms we used were so gross.

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  33. That's weird about Greece and not being able to flush toilet paper. I am going in the next month or so and that grosses me out as well!!

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  34. I love this! It's completely unrealistic to think that travel is always perfect! Living in Seoul has shown me some pretty unsavory things too...I've seen a woman take a #2 right in the street, at 10am, on a Saturday! WHAT?!?!? And in a city that houses millions upon millions of people, you are bound the smell some whiffs of the sewage running beneath the streets and garbage piled here and there. At the same time, I'm equally astounded by the safety here. Women leave $3,000+ Louis Vuitton bags unattended outside public restrooms with no worries that someone will take it, bikes are left unlocked, and the Police don't even carry guns (guns are illegal here). I guess as with anything else, we have to embrace the bad and ugly along with the good!! And, lol, no flushing toilet paper in most toilets here either! I'm so bad at breaking that rule!!

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  35. In most of the Southeast Asian countries, you can't flush the toilet papers because the pipes can't handle it or something! Luckily I was kinda used to it as I've visited relatives in China before, but my bf had to be convinced to throw the paper in the bin.
    I can't believe your food experiences in Paris was that expensive though!! I didn't like Paris all that much, but one thing I was surprised about actually is that the food wasn't as pricey as I expected! There was a place where we got a drink, baguette sandwich, and pastry for like 6 euros!!

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  36. I really love this idea for a post. I have to admit, it does bother me a little when travel blogs share their travels and adventures as if they are perfectly timed/organised/weather-ed/perfect every time they post about them. Sure, things can be perfect, but things can also be not perfect and I find that just as interesting to read. I know you say who wants to read about the bad parts, but I think they make for a good story and written in the right way they give a rounded look about travel. At least that's what I think, and what I hope to achieve on my own blog, since I like to talk a lot about travel and life. I like the story, more than I like the pretties :)


    Posts like this make a nice change, and I do love reading them!

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  37. That's weird for Paris!! I wouldn't really worry about it too much in Greece...the hotel maids come and clean your bin a lot and there is just too much beauty in Greece to get upset :) When are you going? It's one of my all time favorites!!

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  38. Thanks Kerri! While I do love to put a pretty story together it's just not very transparent. And I do feel like I get pretty lucky when we travel and we have never had a horrendous experience....but it's not ALL pretty.

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  39. Wow! I need the name of your Paris restaurant haha!! Maybe it's where we were?? I don't know but I remember one breakfast costing around 35 euros and all I had was a coffee and a croissant! Van's meal was similar....crazy!! And dinners were expensive too....

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  40. Um..the #2 what?! I would have freaked out haha!! But you are right, take the good with the bad. It is the same here....while maybe not as safe, our little city feels really safe. I feel like I'm in a bubble :)

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  41. Oh you will totally get over it.....Greece is just too amazing! Where are you heading?

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  42. Yes...the publoc spots are the worst. It really wasn't all that bad....just a little shocking at first!

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  43. Rome was a lot like Paris in some ways for sure! I think because they are just so big...I never went to the Rome metro though and staying in Trastevere I felt like we had some good authentic meals. But yeah....I love reading about unsavory experiences sometimes!

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  44. Aww that's so sad to hear about Bali :( But yeah, I felt the same about Paris really. I'm finding that I really love the smaller cities like Prague and Krakow...and I can flush the toilet paper there haha!!

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  45. i'm glad you wrote this post! i feel like a lot of times we don't want to come off as whiney when we have the luxury to travel.. but it's not always unicorns and rainbows for sure!


    i guess i completely forgot you couldn't flush toilet paper down the toilet. my parents have a septic tank in their old house.. so it's the same thing there. It's not the most comfortable, but they manage okay. I haven't been to paris yet, but i always hear mixed reviews. :) i don't feel like it would be my favorite city, so i've just left it on my queue of places to go one day... but i'm in no rush!

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  46. Yeah....Paris is eh. I enjoyed some things but overall it can be really overwhelming. Just very busy...I would love to go back and seek out more charming areas!

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  47. I've always wanted to check out the countrysides of france though! :)

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  48. This is really interesting! I think anyone wanting to travel around Europe should read this post. I love it when people are honest about places…it's not ALL awesome!

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  49. Such a great post! So true about Paris...I can't deal with the dirtiness and smells!

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  50. Yessss....it's not all glamourous!! And I'm a huge optimistic when I travel but some places really aren't what everyone makes them out to be!

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  51. Ewww no! But in Greece, I could get over the toilet paper thing haha....it was just too gorgeous!

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