Five “Miss” Attractions

1.) Atomium-Brussels, Belgium
Although there are numerous attractions on the outskirts of Brussels, for some reason D and I chose to visit the Atomium and I really wish we had gone somewhere else. Not only did getting there involve an extremely long ride on the metro, but it was quite expensive (11 euros) too, all for one of the most lackluster attractions I have ever visited. Built for the 1958 Brussels World’s Fair, the monument stands 335 feet (102 meters) tall and has nine steel spheres connected so that the whole forms the shape of a unit cell of an iron crystal magnified 165 billion times. Although it’s a neat photo op, traveling from sphere to sphere was less than thrilling (travel is done by way of escalators) and the exhibits found inside the spheres were also low on riveting content. For the time in which it was built the Atomium was a “modern innovation,” but today it seems more of a historical relic.

2.) Palatine Hill-Rome, Italy
This site can be visited on the same ticket as the Colosseum, otherwise I would say skip it. Although from a historical context it holds much importance, being one of the most ancient parts of the city, the large open-air museum of ancient Roman ruins is a let down after visiting the Roman Forum which is 40 meters below. I found Palatine Hill, the centermost of the Seven Hills of Rome, to be nothing more than a green, peaceful respite from the craziness of Rome. Five years after I visited Italy, I remember vividly the look of the Temple of the Vestal Virgins and the Arch of the Septimius Severus. However, I don’t remember anything distinctly from Palatine Hill.

3.) Ernest Hemingway Museum-Oak Park, Illinois
Although I am a self-professed Hemingway die-hard, the museum in his hometown left me wishing for something better, something more professional for one of one of America’s most famous writers. The museum contains a multitude of his personal effects ranging from his childhood to his later years in Cuba and Idaho, but they’re organized and laid out in a nonsensical sort of manner (exhibits jump around from the early 1900s to the 1940s to back to the 1920s, which makes me wonder about the curators). A visit to his home in Key West, Florida is a much better way to learn about Papa Hemingway.

4.) Basilica of Our Lady of GuadalupeMexico City, Mexico
I visited this en route to the Aztec ruins of Teotihuacan, otherwise I would have skipped it. It’s a Roman Catholic church, minor basilica, and National Shrine of Mexico, built nearby the place where Our Lady of Guadalupe is said to have appeared to Juan Diego, an indigenous peasant in the 16th century. Although it is one of the most important pilgrimage sites in Catholicism, I found it to be overrun with hawkers selling every sort of tacky religious souvenir imaginable, thus decreasing its symbolic feel. Our Lady of Guadalupe and Juan Diego are two extremely important figures in Mexican history and yet if you’re not Catholic, it doesn’t seem to be an attraction to seek out on its own.

(The old basilica, a new one was built in the 1970s)
5.) The Teleferico-Madrid, Spain
For some reason, I am mildly obsessed with cable cars. So when I was looking for more “unique” things to do in Madrid when my dad was visiting during my semester of studying in Spain, I came across the teleferico (the Spanish word for cable car). Although it’s billed as a chance to see the city from another perspective, the only landmark you could easily make out was the Palacio Real (Royal Palace). Other than that, it was a high up ride. To make matters worse, my dad and I had arrived just as it had closed for the traditional siesta. I thought we wouldn’t have ton worry about it being closed seeing as how it is definitely more of a tourist attraction than anything else, but alas we weren’t. We ended up getting overcharged for bocadillos (sandwiches) at a nearby bar, so my memories of the afternoon we rode on the teleferico are less than memorable.

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  • Reply
    September 15, 2011 at 12:56 am

    Great info! Sad to see the Guadalupe Basilica on there. But being Catholic (and having a strange affection for Our Lady of Guadalupe), I would have to go just to see it. But would try to resist the urge to buy from the hawkers unless it was an extremely unique piece.

  • Reply
    the red headed traveler
    September 15, 2011 at 1:06 am

    owoosh-We visited during the Christmas season when it was mobbed so I think if I were to go again when it was less crowded my experience might be highly different. I also was annoyed because we spent more time at the basilica than at Teotihuacan even though our tour was specifically to see the ruins so I think that soured my opinion too.

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