The most overrated holiday destinations
FuLl MoOn PaRtY 2k15
Off on holiday this summer? Probably to one of these places, right?
This is it. This is the dream: you and your boys, Example blasting out of BCM’s fat sound system, forgetting you have a girlfriend back home in Mansfield, smashing the voddie red bulls, a cheeky shag on a sun lounger. In reality Maga is like being trapped inside Dapper Laughs’ subconscious.
Imagine an endless Kristallnacht, with all the directionless fury, the streets running with blood, the smashed glass catching lurid neon light – but with more public BJs, played out exclusively by people who over did it on Rushkinoff, soundtracked by Chipmunk and Tinie Tempah.
Billed as the greatest city in the world, you arrive full of dreams and wonder how could it possibly be disappointing. Once you’ve spent longer than two hours here, you realise it’s pretty much the same as London, but the cabs are brighter, the buildings taller, and the people are even bigger wankers.
The subways are also far less friendly than the tube and have more scary weirdos than you’d ever see in Zone 1. Swathed in the glory of the city that never sleeps, you convince yourself it’s totally okay you paid $14 for a bagel because it reeks of authenticity.
You’ve said “fuhgeddaboutit” to 20 proper locals, and you’ve been to the place Buddy dances in Elf. It’s true, it feels like you’re walking through a movie set, but after a while it’s less Manhattan and more Adam Sandler.
Selamat tinggal Bali – home of the Gili Islands, houses on stilts and lary Australians. The rest of the clientele are “outdoorsy” couples in their early thirties, who are just as obnoxious and come with matching hair braids. The secluded island is supposed to arouse the hypnotic sounds of gongs, flutes and xylophones and smells of incense and grilled fish that’s been caught by a local fisherman in a one man boat just that morning. It promises sensual massages on the beach and a calmer outlook on life.
But head down to Seminyak after 7pm and you’ll come face to face with everything you tried to escape: groups of blokes in Bintag beer vests dancing to dreadful EDM (think Wonderwall with a drop). Upmarket isn’t much better either, the famous Potato Head Beach Club feels strangely corporate, charges a tenner for a cocktail and there’s never any poolside beds left. All in all, you want there to be a Namaste vibe, but there really isn’t.
You and the lads thought by the end of your trip you’d have enough “Zante Bante” to keep your pub chats from going stale for at least a decade. But the sad reality is the only glue holding your fragile friendship together is the incriminating video in your group WhatsApp with depressing blurry footage of happened in 247, and the omnipresent threat of “Crazy Dave” who jokes about sending it to your mum if you don’t go to the pub on Tuesday night. There’s a rare nesting site for an endangered species of sea turtle, and an old rusted shipwreck starkly nestled on the white sand of an inaccessible drained lagoon. But you didn’t go. You fly home disappointed.
Napa is the A2 of party islands, graduation from your first proper group adventure in Zante the year before. The reality is about as grim as real-life graduation but the clubs are grimier, and for some reason one of them has a pool. It’s like a childrens’ party gone wrong. There’s a rotund middle aged DJ, unintelligible chatter and plenty of forced fun, but the party games are replaced with fake orgasm competitions and pulling contests. What you thought would be a reckless holiday of abandon with your lads or lasses will leave you with an “I’m in Napa Bitch!” ripped tee and an STI.
You imagined it as a coming of age excursion like Eat Pray Love, full of eye-opening experiences and stories to tell people in freshers because it’ll hide the fact you were too cheap to go to Asia. What you actually got is two weeks spent doing the same barcrawls everyone does, visiting the same tired route of Amsterdam-Berlin-Prague-Budapest-Krakow, and sleeping in the same grimy hostels near train stations which have held every Home Counties teen with wanderlust.
The architecture, the beauty, the constant threat of being mugged. Hearing the name of the city might remind people of Gaudi and tiki-taka but in reality it’s as interchangeable as any UK city, but with its own distinctive scent. There’s still a McDonald’s on every corner, a horrendous homeless problem and swarms of drunk football fans. The greatest tourist attraction in the city isn’t even finished yet — it’s easy to feel unfulfilled in your city centre AirBnb when La Sagrada Familia still looks like a building site.
It’s got the urban grungy appeal, the only “real” city in Western Europe. You’re convinced your painstaking research will get you into fabled Berghain. But in reality it’s just the Brandenburg Gate, Checkpoint Charlie and taking really fucking inappropriate selfies in the Holocaust memorial. There’s a crushing realisation you don’t have the local knowledge to do anything other than follow round packs of tour groups with either groups of huge, loud Americans or confused Asians with £500 cameras. You didn’t get into Berghain.
South of France
Looking for a cultured getaway? Escaping the hustle and bustle, gammy nightclubs and pesky tourists ruining your beach break? The Côte d’Azur has it all, plus a wedge of fat Russian oligarchs with 60ft yachts and an armada of jet skis hanging off the back. They stroll along the beach, budgie smugglers on, with their brave and stunning girlfriends fawning over them. With the A-list celebrity tag comes the bumper prices, so say goodbye to the rest of your summer and make sure your overdraft is clear before you go. You’ll need it.
Sink into some glitzy Moet beach parties whilst being sprayed with Grey Goose beside a beautiful Greek sunset. There’s no sign of a financial crisis on these shores, so don’t bother coming without a serious bankroll. The best club is miles away from anywhere, so hold back some Euros for the sweaty bloke in an Astra who calls himself a taxi. Breathe in the whiff of the thousand moped petrol fumes and vomit stains on the sand on your way there. It’s just Magaluf with money.
Forget the rose tinted expectations George Ezra gave you of grand pianos and hidden treasure chests, you’ll spend all your whole time in dingy clubs full of someone’s nan’s decorations and in derelict buildings called “ruin pubs”. Budapest is the European equivalent of Brick Lane next to a bloody great river. You’ll do stupid things like pay £20 to get into putrid smelling baths with lukewarm water and fat hairy men or head to pubs with only two walls because TripAdvisor told you to.
The dream destination for a largest of all large ones. Your seasoned mate Wayne is right, the beer is cheap. It’s also stomach-churningly bad and wankers in matching “Prague ‘15” t-shirts – who all think soldiers should be given footballers’ wages – will be besmirching a beautiful city with various bodily fluids within ten minutes of their session starting. Maybe you’ll pull a Van Gogh and cut off your ear on one pound Absinthe, but most likely you’ll wake up in a random hostel surrounded by overly enthusiastic Australians
You go for the beach clubs, the Dalmation coast, clear seas and blue skies. For hiring a boat and island hopping between hidden beaches untouched by boozy tourists. You lust over chic bars with champagne, hefty prices, white trousers and boat shoes. Hundreds of other Henrys wander round in buttoned up shirts, despite the blistering heat, with the next Cressida Bonas hooked on their arm drunkenly slurring their received pronunciation after a meal of imitation pizza and expensive wine. There aren’t even any sand beaches.
You’re either on a big weekend with the lads or still think weed being illegal is the one great social ill of our generation. If you’re the former you’ll spend the whole day smashed with a semi, looking at the red lights, eating brownies and having a look at Anne Frank’s house. Is there any house in this hemisphere more fraught with opportunities to commit horrifying faux pas than Anne Frank’s old yard? As you stumble around the place, higher than Seth Rogen, mildly terrified, trying to summon the necessary emotional energy to look sad, you remember Justin Bieber already beat you to the punch when he wrote: “Anne was a great girl. Hopefully she would have been a belieber.” You will never top this.
As though blissfully unaware of its overrated status, Rome is a city desperate to impress you. Look at the amazing ancient buildings, it says. Look at the beautiful old churches. Look at what the Romans did for us! Yeah, Rome, but what have you done since then? The city’s been coasting, honestly. Anything built in the last couple of centuries is ugly, anyone still alive is rude and the only people still wearing Centurion costumes are trying to steal 10 euros off you in exchange for a photo.
It was supposed to set the scene for a lovely weekend with the love of your life, dizzy with dreams of putting a lock on the bridge and strolls along the seine — but nothing says pure romance like the stench of piss in the street. Just because it looked classy in a Woody Allen film doesn’t mean you’re going to have a lovely evening. You’ll pay 20 Euro for a coffee, sit on the edge of the bed in an overpriced hotel room and pretend they haven’t been cheating on you. Paris, home of make or break holidays and tearful Brits pissed in the park outside the Eiffel Tower.
Regret De Mar
They sell it to you as being a stone’s throw from Barcelona, but when get to the tiny little town you realise you’re stuck in a classic Spanish resort. There’s not a lot of culture, just scores of bars and clubs trying to be the next Ibiza. They don’t call it Regret De Mar for nothing. You’ll end every night on the beach, convinced by Danielle from Netball no night is complete without a skinny dip. Just whatever you do, don’t make the fatal mistake of returning at any time of the year except tour. Without the hordes of rugby boys and other various jocks running ragged, it really is just you and Pablo.
Billed at the land of smiles, you soon realise everyone only smiles when you’ve got baht to spend. Every tuk tuk ride ends in a diversion to have a quick look in a friends silk-tailor shop. Embrace the ping-pong shows as a lighthearted piece of legendary local eccentricity, and not dark basements replete with shady older men and sad-looking circus performers, where any novelty wears off after the first ping has ponged into the crowd. Your expectations of all the best parts of “The Beach” is hollow, and your friends India and Liv are disappointed the tigers are all so sleepy. You’ll end up sprawled on the kerb in Khao San Road, covered in sick and hungover from a Full Moon Party where you met 15 people from home, because yes, it’s become so mainstream to be a little nuisance with your parents money “travelling in Asia”. You’re not thousands of miles away.
Vietnam and Cambodia
Every time someone says the word tagine you remember the holiday fondly and share those memories with everyone around you. Constantly. You don’t tell anyone you went with your mum after the divorce and the culture was ruined by her new-age mid-life crisis.
It’s the dream: thousands of good-looking people dancing to euphoric trance, everyone tanned bronze, having rapturous sex in between nights out at the world biggest DJs. What you get is charged 60 euros for entry, 25 for drinks, sold dodgy pills and dishwasher-tablet-cut coke by a scouser who has been stuck there for six years. Lads with iced-gem haircuts and lurid tank tops roam the streets like wild-dogs, and if you make it home, it will be with Chlamydia and Gonorrhoea at the least.
It’s an idyllic island enshrined in classical mythology, but the only Colossus’ you’ll see are in Faliraki, guarding the deadest nightclubs this side of the Eurozone crisis. The only activities are trekking up the Acropolis at Lindos — but don’t take the donkey and be that guy — or getting off your tits on Ouzo. On the plus side, because nobody under the age of 25 goes there anymore means you’re definitely going to pull dinner lady Debbie from Northampton. She’ll show you a good time.