According to our poll, these are the most overrated attractions in the world:
1. Disney Theme Parks 2. The Leaning Tower of Pisa 3. The Eiffel Tower 4. Times Square 5. The Louvre
Actually, I like Times Square and the Louvre. Other overrated attractions, at least in my experience: Venice, Machu Picchu, Victoria Falls, Seattle Space Needle, Cape Cod, Miami Beach, The Alamo, Hollywood Walk of Fame, Lanai, Fisherman’s Wharf (San Francisco), Singapore, Graceland, Corcovado, St. Taffy’s, Lake Lucerne, Costa Rica Cloudforest, Florida Everglades, Boston Pops 4th of July, Mob Museum (Las Vegas), Bourbon Street, Spy Museum (Washington, DC), Montenegro, and ??
My favorite tourist attractions: Amazon Rainforest, Angkor Wat in Cambodia, Great Barrier Reef, Checkpoint Charlie at the Berlin Wall (when it was standing), Musee d’Orsay, Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, Antelope Canyon (Page, AZ), Grand Bazaar (Istanbul), Hotel Moskva (Belgrade, Serbia), Wimbledon, Pebble Beach, Kauai, Indy 500, Kentucky Derby, Roland Garros (French Open), Ebenezer Baptist Church, Copacabana Beach, Lake Baikal, the Winter Palace, Champagne region, and ??
I think they key to your travels would be to follow and visit what you enjoy. For me, it is sporting events, food and wine, historic sites, and people.
Is now really the best time for a vacation, or should you stay at home and take a “staycation”?Why it matters
People are stressed and burned out. Travel lifts you out of the drudgery of your daily routine and gives your brain a chance to reset. Leaving home can give you valuable perspective on your life and your problems.
You know what I say, “GO!!!!!”
But it’s also true that some people simply do not have the money in their budget for travel. One of the things Americans are stressed out about is their financial well-being, and spending money on a trip may heighten that stress.The verdict
Take a modest mini-vacation where you leave home, even if it’s just a trip to the next town over for a night or two.
Having a trip on the calendar gives you something to look forward to, and it’s well-documented that spending money on experiences tends to make us happier in the long run than spending on objects.
“Financial stress often comes when we are not spending money on what is most important to us,” said Sean Pearson, a financial adviser with Ameriprise Financial Services in Conshohocken, Pa., who focuses on the financial needs of the military and veterans.
Yes, I agree, a trip on the Calendar does give me something to look forward to. Being home most days, retired, and watching too much TV, a trip is always at the top of my list!
Reasons to hit the road: A change of scenery has been linked to enhanced happiness, according to a 2020 New York University study that followed people with GPS trackers and asked them to rate their moods. “The results showed that on days when people had more variability in their physical location — visiting more locations in a day and spending proportionately equitable time across these locations — they reported feeling more positive: ‘happy,’ ‘excited,’ ‘strong,’ ‘relaxed,’ and/or ‘attentive,’” the researchers wrote.
Travel to places we haven’t been before may also help give us “greater emotional agility, empathy and creativity,” wrote psychology professor Todd B. Kashdan with the Center for the Advancement of Well-Being at George Mason University. “By spending time in unfamiliar towns, cities, or countries, you become tolerant and even accepting of your own discomfort and more confident in your ability to navigate ambiguous situations,” he wrote in Harvard Business Review. Even though some of my trips are revisits to familiar places, I always try to add a new city or country. On my last trip, I visited Belgrade,Serbia, Montenegro, and the Dalmatian Coast of Croatia for the first time. My return visit to Paris centered on a new experience, the French Open Tennis Championships at Roland Garros. I was able to return to Athens for the third time, as well as utilize Frankfurt as my entry and departure point for the trip.
When we travel to familiar places, like Seattle, Las Vegas, the Central Coast, Monterey, Scottsdale, Washington, DC, Chicago, and Atlanta, we always try to add something new or different, even it is a place to eat. But not always. It gives us great pleasure to return to favorite wineries or restaurants.
But, whatever you decide, I say, go ahead and do it!!!!
Shopping can be exhausting, and nothing recharges you faster than a buttery pastry with a heavenly cup of coffee. Le Panier serves authentic French pâtisserie, fresh bread, and offerings like sandwiches and feuilletés, which are puff pastries with savory fillings like cheese, chicken, vegetables, or mushrooms. Don’t let long lines deter you — Le Panier is busy because it’s one of the best bakeries in Seattle.
Every offering at Le Panier is made using traditional French techniques, no surprise since their pastry chef and co-owner is French. Anything you try will be delicious, but Tripadvisor users rave about the croissants, with one noting that she loved the almond croissants so much that she practically gains weight just thinking about them. Indeed, choosing between chocolate, almond, raspberry, or the classic flaky butter croissant is the hardest part. Hey, maybe get some to go!
Even seasoned home bakers might flinch at the prospect of homemade croissants. The process is notoriously involved, and timing is critical. Getting fresh croissants from the oven at Le Panier might be the easy way out, but there’s no contest when the easy way out is that delicious. Having enjoyed French pastries all over the world, Le Panier is the BEST!!!!
Of course, you can also try soup, paninis, grilled cheese, or buy ingredients for a cheese board while you’re there. Or, you know, buy a ton of cheese to take home. Beecher’s is always willing to share the cheesiest recipes for your own culinary desires, so having lunch while touring the market and making cheese-based yummies at home is a win-win.
Anyone that loves sausage needs to grab lunch at Uli’s Famous Sausage. Uli’s has been making fresh sausage every day for more than 40 years, and after one bite, you’ll know why Uli’s is a favorite at Pike Place Market. Reddit users on r/Seattle say that Uli’s sausages are “some bomb sausages,” and Facebook fans urge us to, “Grab a beer, order some food, and enjoy life a little bit” at Uli’s.
While you can get the sausage to cook at home and the deli counter offers plenty of options, dining in is perfect for a shopping break at the market. Uli’s offers a build-your-own sandwich or offers sausage on a bed of sauerkraut, so you get everything you like. First, choose which kind of sausage “floats your boat” — bratwurst, kielbasa, hot Italian, or chicken sausage (also, the apple chicken sausage, wow!) Add toppings like sauerkraut or onions, raw or grilled, if you want a sandwich. Top it off with Uli’s Famous curry ketchup, or stick with mayo, plain ketchup, or mustard — they serve yellow, Dijon, and stone ground. Round it out with crispy seasoned fries, and you have a classic Pike Place lunch.
You might think we visit Seattle just for the food. Well, you would be correct. We love the fresh seafood, bakeries, specialty shops, and the general northwest style of cuisine. It differs from California cuisine, since it is heartier, with larger portions.
I can’t think of a better city than Seattle as the very first UNESCO City of Literature. The unique and massive Seattle Public Library, itself an icon of literature, stands as a visible reminder of this city’s great literary reputation. They say the long, wet, dreary winters, and the abundance of coffee shops make it perfect for readers.
For starters, the four decades old Elliott Bay Bookstore attracts readers of all kinds. I love the name of their little cafe’ in the back, the Oddfellows Cafe’. Maybe it is staffed by a guy named Longfellow?
As you know, I love visiting libraries and bookstores around the world. My favorites are City Lights (San Francisco), Powell’s (Portland), and The Last Bookstore (Los Angeles).
For rare, and out of print cook books, head to the aptly named Book Larder. It even has a kitchen in the back! Every Monday, they host a lunch break cooking class.
So, where do techies go for books? How about Ada’s Technical Books? But not in a high tech setting, but an old world hipster style of techie madness. Events range from lock picking to female scientist meetups.
Seattleites love the sea, and sometimes the Old Man, right Ernie? For them, Sea Ocean Books rates high, particularly since their hours are by appointment or by chance!
Where do beatniks and the ultra cool people go for their poetry fix? None other than Open Books, Seattle’s go to place for poetry books and events. For example, you can find: The shelves are stocked with progressive local books like Tess Gallagher and Lawrence Matsuda’s collaborative Boogie Woogie CrissCross, a book of poetry based on their three-year long e-mail exchange while she was in Ireland and he was in Seattle.
Even touristy Pike Place Market has a bookstore, Left Bank Books. The place is described as an anarchist’s collective, with books on feminism, graphic novels, and the labor movement. And rather interestingly, they publish books written by prisoners.
One of my favorite bookstores is located at Uwajimaya grocery in the International District. Yes, most of the books are in Japanese, but that does not stop me from visiting Kinokuniya when we shop for Asian foods of all kinds. They have great T shirts, and art books for those of us who do not read Japanese.
My second most favorite is both a bookstore and a cartographer’s dream, Metsker Maps, near Pike Market. I have purchased maps for some of my trips, such as my Trans Siberian journey in 2014. They have the best collection of globes, maps, and travel books I have ever seen.
Believe it or not, Ripley, Amazon has a bookstore here. I have visited the branch in Walnut Creek. Because of popularity metrics, they have the type of books that you can read in three days, in either hard copy or Kindle. But they say it is worth a visit, just to see how the internal internet brain of book shoppers plays out in real life!
So, will I spend my days in a bookstore while in Seattle. It depends on the weather, my mood, and if I need a book! Go figure.
When we think of Seattle, we think of coffee, Microsoft, Pike Place Market, maybe even Nordstrom. But I also love Seattle for its great public library and book culture. I think I have visited the Seattle Public Library more than any out-of-town library in the world!!
Seattle is a UNESCO City of Literature, the second U.S. city to be given the honor. The Central Library is an institution that everyone—reader and non-reader—should have on their itinerary. It’s an 11-level glass-and-steel building that has the capacity to house over 1.5 million books. But that’s not the only reason Seattle is on this list.
The city has a civic poet. The program appoints a poet who engages with the community and serves as an ambassador for two years. The culturally-rich city has many centers for writers, including Hugo House, which provides free classes and workshops. In addition, Seattle hosts book readings, literary festivals, and author events. If you’re looking for a place to read that’s not a library, you’ll find book cafes and even book-themed pubs—check out Ada’s Technical Books & Cafe and Mr. Darcy’s Wine Bar.
Now you know why, in an analysis by Lawn Love, Seattle earned the second spot on the list of Best Cities for Book Lovers 2022.
Two of my favorite book stores were are Elliott Bay books, and the Kinokuniya Bookstore inside of the huge Uwajimaya Market in the International District. I also love the maps, and books at Metsker Maps on First Avenue, near Pike Market. And Uwajimaya Market is a true adventure on its own. I have found all kinds of unique food and gifts there over the years.
While I enjoy the obvious attractions MoPOP, Pike Place Market, and the coffee culture, I also enjoy a little shopping. The flagship Nordstrom store is downtown, and one of my favorite stops. Our friends Tanya and Michael have a great boutique for clothing, design and furniture not far from the Seattle Art Museum.
Oh, and I may go to a Mariners game, as the Red Sox are in town!
Much has changed in the past few years, covid notwithstanding. Homeless issues, the impact of high tech on housing prices and cost of living, and tumultuous political rancor seem to never subside. But through it all, we have visited Seattle on a regular basis since 1995, often three times a year until recently. This is our first visit since 2019, pre-pandemic.
But one highlight we can always count on is the coconut cream pie from Tom Douglas. It is probably our favorite pie in the entire world!!
Having been here so many times, we always look for something new and different.
Okay, maybe you don’t consider dinner to be an “experience,” but this one definitely felt like it. Flintcreek Cattle Co uses pastured and grass-fed meat, from sustainable small-scale farms, and masterfully creates truly magnificent dishes. This is the restaurant for trying new dishes, particularly proteins like elk, venison, and others. While the restaurant certainly is an upscale experience, it’s still approachable for the average person, and the dining experience is relaxed and luxurious. Might be worth a try?
If you love crafting or taking creative classes, you definitely need to check out Mosstangle, a Snohomish wood-burning studio. “You learn a new, creative skill that seems impossible, but Crystal is a great teacher and encourages all the students to press into their inner artist,” says travel blogger Tabitha Bailar. “Burn PNW themed pictures into [the] wood and take home an ornament, wooden cutting board, or whatever else the classes offer.” Never heard of this before.
We have all been to Pike Market dozens of times. But a chef-guided food tour is a perfect way to learn about the market, the vendors, and of course, the food. You also get to skip the lines at famous foodie restaurants like Pike Place Chowder and learn about hidden gems like Indi Chocolate, a woman-owned bean-to-bar chocolate shop that makes the chocolate on-site. After the tour, stroll the market, and shop with a special 10% off coupon the chef will provide you.
For an active experience perfect for couples or groups of friends, axe throwing is both easily captivating, relatively affordable, and fairly simple to learn. Bring your snacks, closed-toed shoes, a charged phone (you definitely want to photograph this!), and a can-do attitude, because before it becomes fun, it can be a tad frustrating. Blade & Timber is the only axe-throwing establishment that is allowed to serve beer, cider, and spiked seltzer, but you are limited to two drinks. The coach will guide you through how to use and throw your axe safely, and after watching you practice, will leave you to enjoy your experience. Maybe if it is raining and there is nothing else to do?
Grab five of your friends (or your lover) and book yourself a Hot Tub Boat. Floating in Lake Union, this year-round activity combines hot tubs, boats, and parties in one memorable package. All you need is your snacks, a bathing suit, and a waterproof pouch for your phone, and you’re ready for an unforgettable float, no matter the weather. Hot Tub Boats has a shack where you can change, and then you’re just a few feet away from the boat, so you can hop right in without freezing. The boat itself has no captain, as it can easily be “driven” using the joystick, with a maximum speed of 5 miles per hour. Go ahead, after you!
Well, all of this is making me tired. I think I will head over for some of the best pizza ever at Serious Pie in Belltown.
Seattle has been dominated by high tech, with google, Amazon, and Microsoft. But they have a big drug and homeless problem, particularly downtown. It is not pretty, though not quite as bad as San Francisco, San Diego, or Washington, DC.
But we like walking the downtown areas, Belltown, downtown, and on out to the International District. Our favorite store is Uwajimaya, the huge Asian grocery store complex. And our friends’ boutique, The Finerie on 1006 Western, resides not far from the Art Museum and Library. Michael, Tanya and Theo have been friends for decades!!!
It will be very interesting to see how much of the city has come back to the new normal. San Francisco, at least in the downtown area, was practically a ghost town last summer, while the neighborhoods thrived. What might we expect here?
Wednesday (June 7) marked 50 years since a mystery man known widely as D.B. Cooper (“Dan Cooper” was the name he used for his one-way ticket) leapt from a Boeing 727’s rear stair door with $200,000 somewhere over Southwest Washington. It remains the only unsolved case of air piracy in U.S. history.
It was 106 years ago Seattle got its very first professional hockey team, the Seattle Metropolitans, an expansion team formed by the owners of the Pacific Coast Hockey Association. The Mets would prove the first Seattle team to take home a national championship.
“Yesler’s Cookhouse, built in 1853 at the foot of Mill Street, was really the first restaurant in the little village of Seattle,” begins the book “Restaurants of Seattle 1853-1960.” Written by Mrs. Hattie Graham Horrocks, the publicly available PDF details restaurants as they opened and closed, describing them with varying levels of precision. Pulling from old menus, newspaper advertisements, and city directories for information, it shows off menus of 25-cent meals from 1882 and hotel dining rooms serving Olympia oyster stew for 50 cents in 1913.
Bon Marche’ was the Seattle-based chain sprung out of the Great Seattle Fire of 1889. It anchored Northgate Mall and weathered the storms of downtown Seattle’s retail core before being rebranded as Macy’s in 2003. In 1929, the Bon Marché unveiled its nine-story flagship building in the heart of downtown Seattle. The chain was acquired by the parent company of Macy’s in the ’90s, and in 2003 it became the Bon Macy’s, then later just Macy’s. It closed in February 2020. Sad.
The Seattle Supersonics were Seattle’s first big winner, winning it all in 1979. We understand the team left town for beautiful Oklahoma City. The Sonics took their name from another defunct effort, Boeing’s answer to the Concord, the 2707 supersonic transport.
Lakeview Cemetery is nestled atop Capitol Hill, this burial ground was established in 1872 and now serves as the final resting place for numerous iconic American figures, and the founder of Nordstrom department store, John W. Nordstrom. Yet, one of the most popular plots remains that of Brandon and Bruce Lee, father and son martial artists and actors.
An iconic Seattle landmark for both locals and tourists alike is turning 114 years old today: Pike Place Market. One of the oldest continuously operated markets in the country, Pike Place Market has defined Seattle’s shopping experience for over a century now. The market was born in 1907 as the result of public outcry over high food prices as the city was seeing a staggering increase in population at the turn of the century.
With San Francisco’s downtown becoming a relative ghost town, what can we expect in the future for tourism?
In 2019, the United States had 79.4 million international visitors, a figure that plummeted to 19.2 million in 2020 as the pandemic hit and rose to just 22.1 million in 2021.
International visitors spent $239.4 billion in 2019, but just $81 billion in 2019, the Commerce Department said.
Before COVID, tourism supported 9.5 million U.S. jobs and generated $1.9 trillion in economic output.San Francisco was hit hard, but mostly downtown where tourists tend to stay. The neighborhoods thrived, while many businesses in the downtown area closed or downsized. My favorite Uniqlo store on Powell, near the cable car turntable is gone. In fact, during the pandemic, the cable cars were also garaged in the cable car barn.
The “National Travel and Tourism Strategy” sets a goal of 90 million international visitors by 2027 who will spend an estimated $279 billion annually, topping pre-pandemic levels, the department told Reuters.
“There are a lot of industries that are well past COVID – travel and tourism is not,” U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said in an interview.Based on my last few trips to Europe, people in the EU and surrounding areas want to visit the US. But they view it as a cumbersome process, as well as expensive for airfare and hotels.
Other goals include promoting more diverse U.S. tourism experiences beyond coastal states, reducing tourism’s contributions to climate change and building a sector that is resilient to natural disasters, public health threats and the impacts of climate change.
One reason tourism fell so sharply was the United States lagged many other countries in lifting COVID border restrictions that barred much of the world from entering. The U.S. rules were not eased until November 2021.
The United States still requires foreign nationals to be vaccinated against COVID and nearly all international air passengers to test negative before travel. U.S. airlines say nearly all other countries they serve are not requiring testing. And yes, as of May 27, I needed a negative covid test to re-enter the US even though I am double boostered!!!
With the proverbial shoe on the other foot, the countries I visited last month, Greece, Serbia, Croatia, and France were overjoyed to have American tourists back. Why? Americans are the best tippers, friendlier than most other tourists, and willing to spend money to get out of their comfort zone. My Greek brothers often lament that the tour groups from certain countries rarely deviate from their hotel meals and guided bus trips. Americans love to explore, find interesting food, and unique retail items to take home.
Since you have been reading my emails over the years, you know how much we enjoy walking big cities, and interesting towns. There is no better way to discover the culture and beauty of a place, save for a walking tour by a local. But, since I am not a tour guy, exploring on my own, or with Mr. Mike is the best alternative.
What might some of those cities be? Over the years, some cities we have walked and explored: Bangkok, Hanoi, Santiago, Prague, Budapest, Warsaw, Vienna, Berlin, Sydney, Hong Kong, Cape Town, Seville, Lisboa, London, Athens, Istanbul, Tokyo, Buenos Aires, Medellin, Montreal, Quito, Vancouver, Amsterdam, and lately, Dubrovnik, Split, Belgrade, and Frankfurt.
TravelAwaits has listed their nine most walkable cities.
Amsterdam Though this city is known for its bicycles, it is enjoyable to walk, use the tram, see the great museums, and shop in the eclectic sections of the city. After all, the four “C”s are big here: cycling, cheese, cafes and canals. No matter how many times I have visited, I am always open for a return visit!
Paris Though rather spread out, combining walking with the Metro works quite well. I have become a bit more tolerant of France, and can get around to the museums, favorite cafes, airport, train stations, and Roland Garros. For only 1.90 Euro each way, the Metro is a bargain compared to BART. When I first visited in 1971, de Gaulle was in his prime, and they hated Americans! Just beware of the dog poop, the French are too good to pick up their dog’s poop!!
Florence Though I never really walked this city, there is plenty to see on foot. Leonardo and the other Ninja turtles would be proud of you!
Rome Though I have not been to Rome in decades, it is a great walking city with a vibrant cafe culture. The bus system seemed to take us wherever we wanted, mostly. But it was a long time ago. Maybe I need to make a return visit?
London Now, I love walking this city, using the Underground, and exploring the various neighborhoods. My two weeks attending Wimbledon were great for exploring this city. And if you get lost, everyone speaks English! Sort of. I made so many friends during the fortnight. Maybe some enemies too? Furthermore, London has a large Asian population, with many good places to eat something other than pub food! Time to go back?
Edinburgh Though we did not walk it, I have wanted to return here for the famous Tattoo. Perhaps I have missed out on the best walking city in the world?
Vancouver Yes, this is a great walking city, with a great Metro system as well. Most neighborhoods are safe. Take the Hop On Hop Off Bus to get oriented, and you will be an expert city navigator. We tend to stay mostly on Robson, but there are many great neighborhoods here, including TWO Chinatowns. My Chinese friends tell me that Vancouver has the best Chinese food in the world!
Zurich Mostly a cute old city, with narrow streets and some hills. I have tons of stories about my time in Zurich, but you would probably not believe them anyway! And I had the best Grand Marnier souffle’ here, my fondest memory of Switzerland.
Venice Now, why would anyone walk here. First, it stinks, and second, it is much faster by boat!! They say the stench is not as bad, but I will never go back!
As you can read, they left off many cities in Asia, South America, and Africa.
My personal favorites: Bangkok, Hanoi, Buenos Aires, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Athens, and Istanbul. In the US, I prefer Chicago, Washington, DC, San Francisco, and Seattle.
Two of Europe’s biggest rail operators are merging to create a combined high-speed network that serves the UK, France, the Netherlands, Germany, and Belgium. Cross-Channel high-speed rail service, Eurostar, is joining forces with the French-Belgian rail operator Thalys to expand services across Europe. For travelers, this merger gives them a greater choice of simplified journeys on a single ticket.
Thalys already serves France, the Netherlands, Germany, and Belgium, but it doesn’t currently have operations in the UK.
Eurostar, meanwhile, has a pretty extensive network that operates out of St Pancras station in London; delivering passengers across the Channel Tunnel to French cities like Calais, Paris, Lille and Lyon and, in winter, to the Alps. It also offers a high-speed service to Brussels, Rotterdam and, most recently, Amsterdam. I took the “Chunnel” to Paris for a day trip while I was at Wimbledon for two weeks. I spent the day at the Louvre, and returned back to London that evening. It was an easy delightful day.
For the first time, UK passengers will be able to directly connect with Germany by high-speed rail, with trains potentially running from London to Cologne (a journey that would take five-and-a-half hours), Düsseldorf, Essen, Aachen and Dortmund — destinations that are currently operated by Thalys.
Trains could also travel to Bordeaux from London and more Belgian cities including Antwerp and Liège. The Alps service could also be extended for winter holidaymakers.
I really enjoy rail travel in Europe. My first trip to Europe was a student Eurail pass, enabling me to start in Amsterdam, and end up in Rome. Along the way, I visited Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, France, Austria, and Italy. Just last week, I took the high-speed Deutsche Bahn Railway from Paris Gare d’lest to Frankfurt Main Haupt Bahnhof. I think my next trip to Europe will involve heavy use of a Eurail pass.
An added bonus is that trains are rarely canceled or late. The little city airline hoppers in Europe are always delayed or canceled.