What My Least Favorite Destinations & Olives Have In Common

Derek Croatia, Perspectives, Switzerland 118 Comments


There aren’t many things I truly hate in this world. In fact, olives might be the only one. I’ve tried to eat olives, I really have, at least a dozen times throughout my life. But ever since I was a child, the only reactions I can remember having to even a tiny bit of olive is gagging and making a genuinely disgusted face. Sometimes I’ve even gagged before I’ve taken a bite, just when the olive hit my lips or began to enter my mouth. The thought of olives right now has just made me cringe. I don’t even know why I’m writing about them.

One of my good friends loves olives. She loves olives so much, and I hate them so much, that we have had lengthy discussions about these little oval things. I think I can even remember one time when we actually started arguing about them. We argued back and forth until both of us realized that absolutely no progress was going to be made, leading us to sit across the table from each other in silence for about ten minutes. Eventually, we changed the subject, vowing never to bring up the word ‘olives’ in each other’s presence again.

The point of all this olive talk is that it occurred to me that my feelings towards olives is, in a way, similar to my feelings toward certain destinations I’ve visited over the years. While I’ve never actually “hated” any destination as much as I hate olives, there are a few locations that I’ve really tried to like, some more than once, but have not been very successful at doing so.

And since a few people sometimes point out that I’m overwhelmingly positive about the destinations I travel to, and that I rarely talk about anything negative, I’ve decided to put together an ‘olive’ list of my least favorite destinations below.

These are the destinations that, while they don’t make me gag, usually do lead to a contorted face when I think back to my experiences. With that said, I’d still visit them again if I had the chance…most of them at least.

Least Favorite Destination - Dubai, United Arab Emirates

United Arab Emirates – If you ask me what is my least favorite country that I’ve been to, the UAE will always be the one I mention. I’ve been several times due to a long layover, visits to friends living in or passing through Dubai or Abu Dhabi and while working on board cruise ships, and I can’t really think of anything too positive to say about my experiences.

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Dubrovnik, Croatia – Beautiful? Indeed. But after one hour of walking around, I was ready to leave. I can’t pinpoint the exact reason, I just had no desire to spend much time there at all. As for the rest of Croatia, while none of the country would be in my list of favorite destinations I’ve visited, they wouldn’t be on my list of least favorite either. I guess that makes them average to me.

Cayman Islands – During my cruise ship days, I must have visited these islands at least fifteen times and after a few visits, it became one of the only ports in the world where I would often stay on the ship instead of getting off. A destination is clearly not a good match for me when it offers white sand beaches and I prefer to take a nap or hang out in the crew areas of a cruise ship instead of making a beeline for the sun and sand.

Budapest, Hungary

Hungary – I’m ready for the angry mob with this one but I did not connect with this country at all, including the city of Budapest. I even tried a second time but with the same results and I even visited with a local Hungarian friend of mine as well. I personally found it to be a little boring and didn’t find the atmosphere or energy of the country too appealing.

Switzerland – It’s nice but a little too bland for me and after two visits, I’m not terribly interested in visiting again.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong – After telling you about the very cool view of the city from the harbor at night, I’ll have some difficulty talking about anything else from my two visits here, mainly because nothing really stands out as very memorable. I remember having a good meal over there once but the details, such as what I ate, are a little fuzzy.

Now back to the real olives. A few days ago, I ordered a vegetarian pizza without olives at a restaurant here in Bucharest and twenty minutes later, out came a vegetarian pizza with olives, plenty of them. And even after picking the olives out, I had extreme difficulty eating that pizza. I’m used to it now though as that’s pretty much what has happened every single time I’ve ordered a vegetarian pizza without olives during my time in Romania. The waiter or waitress repeats “fara masline” (without olives) and they even write it down, but by the time that pizza arrives in front of me, it becomes quite apparent that the chef doesn’t give a hoot. He or she is going to make the pizza their way and there’s no changing that.

And sometimes, that’s how travel works too. As we head off around the world, we are always trying to order an interesting, rewarding and educational experience in every destination we visit. Usually, that’s what we receive. But every now and then, at least for me, my order is indeed ignored and I get something different.

Sometimes that ‘something different’ is a travel experience better than what I had ordered, but sometimes I get an experience that I just want to spit out. It’s bound to happen.

Of course, I’m not saying that the above destinations are ‘bad’ or should be avoided, not at all. These are just my own personal ‘least favorite destinations’ based on my own experiences, interests and who I am as a traveler. There are so many factors involved when it comes to how well we connect with a particular place and some of those factors don’t even have anything to do with the destination itself (for example, when you’re in a bad mood before you even arrive). I certainly recognize that.

And that’s why I highly recommend you travel to every single one of the above locations and find out what they’re like for yourself. It wouldn’t surprise me one bit if you absolutely love some, or even all, of them.

We’re all different people in the end and we all enjoy different kinds of pizzas.

What’s your list of least favorite countries you’ve visited? Or countries you have no desire to visit? Do you like olives?

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Comments 118

  1. Jeremiah

    Well that was certainly a surprising read.
    Croatia and Switzerland are probably my 2 favorite European countries I’ve visited; and Budapest, Hungary is one of my favorite cities.
    Quite interesting to hear about other peoples experiences.

  2. Blanka

    Hi Earl,

    I love olives now, after several years of wondering what people meant, as it tasted horrid at first… tastes, as everything else, change :-))

    Have a great time and please let us know when are you comming to central/east Europe.

  3. dan

    Strangest blog I have ever read. Croatia and Switzerland are p paradises on earth. Natural beauty like possibly no where else in the world. Dubrovnik is probably more large town than city but what a town it is. George Bernard Shaw called it heaven on earth, and the game of thrones series is filmed there because it is such a unique and majestic city. U must have been in your pre menstrual period when u travelled here and then yet again you rate all these places in Romania etc as some of your favourites. Each person is entitled to their own opinion but I don’t think you and I would get along. The alps of Switzerland and possibly the most beautiful coast in the world in Croatia and you compare them to olives. . . .weird if you ask me. All I can say to readers is put these places at the top of yr travel lists, two of the most amazing small countries in the world.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Dan – There’s not a single destination in the world that doesn’t have some people who love it and others who don’t 🙂

      1. Mawz

        I must say I agree with Dan. Croatia is a very beautiful country with a lot of things to see and do. You were probably there in winter. Have you ever spend summer in Croatia?

        1. Wandering Earl

          Hey Mawz – I’ve been to Croatia twice now and both times were during the summer. It’s nothing against the country, some places work better for some travelers and some places for others!

  4. Carola

    Olives, I love them!
    Hard to tell which is my least favorite destination. Going by car through Salvador was full of hassle. Hungary is on my list to. While walking across Hungary along the Danube River, we had difficulties to find a small placevto pitch our tent, the people were less friendly than in the neighbor countries.
    I liked our time in the UAE. It was so different from what I would have expected. We slept two times on a dhow from Irak right in the Dubai Creek. Awesome! Our time getting around with the local bus and hitchhiking and trekking in the Hata Mountains and to Fujairah and Korfakkan was wonderful.

  5. Charles Rahm

    Ha! I think, I found the connection for some!
    The Cayman islands, Switzerland and Hong Kong are financial centres. And the Emirates are not too poor either.
    So it’s valid for 4 of the 6! 🙂

  6. Kirsten W

    To each their own, of course, but I LOVE Dubrovnik. It is one of those places I dream of bringing people. It can be a bit touristy but strolling and getting lost and the views…yeah love that city. However, I’m totally with you on olives:)

  7. anna

    Interesting post! Croatia and Switzerland are definitely near the top of my ‘favourite places’ list, but agree with you on the UAE. My least favourite places would have to be Barcelona, Athens, LA and New Caledonia.

  8. Mia

    Olives, I agree with you on. Croatia on the other hand, not at all.

    Dubrovnik can be a bit touristy and a little lacklustre if you only pass by. But have you gone to Hvar, or Cres, or Vis? Maybe it’s because turquoise was the only colour I wore until the age of 8, but the sheer vibrancy of the seawater made me cancel my travel plans onward to Slovenia and Italy and spend a month there. I was supposed to be backpacking Europe – instead I decided to relax and woke up one month later, still somehow island hopping in Croatia.

  9. Shelley

    I love olives! But I didn’t particularly get the appeal of Venice. Is it beautiful, yes definitely! But it was so crowded, and I didn’t eat at one restaurant that was great. They wanted us out so quickly to make room for the next patron, so the food was mediocre at best. Plus the prices were so expensive. 100 euros to take a Venetian Gondola ride. Of course we paid and did the boat ride, but what a disappointment. I guess compared to Florence, Tuscany and Rome, Venice just didn’t do it for me.

  10. Andrew

    Interesting post Earl. For me, my most disappointing country to visit is Spain. Beautiful sites but the rude nature of the Spanish people has turned me off from ever visiting again. After visiting forty-seven countries to date, Spain is the only country where I have encountered such disrespect on both occasions that I have visited.

  11. PedroZZZ

    I love to see lists of countries which people dont like or like. Especially from people who have traveled a lot. I have been in all of the places that you mention except the Caymans and I can understand your list.

    UAE, is definitely not my favorite either. Abu Dhabi was ok, but last visit to Dubai was enough. No need to go there again. I love most of Middle East though. My favorite countries include Syria and Lebanon. So much nicer (ok Syria nowadays is unfortunately a mess).

    Agree also about Switzerland, Dubrovnik and Cayman. Yep, I already that I have not been in Cayman, but I have visited enough Caribbean islands and countries to be totally confident that I will not like Cayman.

    The two a bit more surprising ones are Hungary and Hong Kong. Most people like Hungary, myself included. Hong Kong is not for everyone, but if you compare that to many other a bit similar cities like Singapore (too clean, boring), Shanghai (boring), Beijing (ugly, difficult) I think HK has something special.

    The places what I dont like (besides the already mentioned) are most of Caribbean, Costa Rica (yes that might surprise many), South Africa (maybe because I have only been around Johannesburg), Jakarta, Laos, Germany, Kazakhstan. But there are over 70 countries which I like…

    And just one addition to my favorites. Burma. I was shocked to read the one very negative comment about it.

  12. Jacqueline

    I was taken aback when I saw HK listed in your post. And the comments. Honestly, I don’t recommend HK as a place to visit because even after living there and returning once in awhile, I still don’t have any sightseeing destinations to recommend apart from seeing the skyline.

    But if you’re extremely lucky to find a decent residence, it’s a great city to live in. At least, if you don’t have kids to raise. I’m not interested in living there nowadays because of what’s going on in politics but it’s a bummer when I see these negative comments about HK.

  13. michelle

    ironically, olives are the bane of my existence… and my least awesome travel ever was to rome. after a quick eight or so hours wandering around the old city (as an art historian, believe you me i knew how important these ruins are)… there was nothing to do. in, around, or near, just boutique shops aimed at tourists and an awful transit system. i recognize will definitely get some flak for this but olives and rome ruin me. however, on the same trip, i did solidify my absolute love for tomatoes (i know, late to the game)… so i can’t really get mad.

  14. Mike


    I absolutely love olives – especially in a dry gin martini. I will have to say the only place in this part of the world that could make the drink correctly was a little place in Brasov, Romania. They call it a Montgomry Martini. I feel the same as you about Budapest and almost got in a fight with a waiter there over a big glass of vermouth that was “supposed” to be a dry martini. I won’t order one in Sarajevo because I don’t want to start WWIII. I absolutely loved Zagreb Croatia and found the people to be awesome.

    Cheers and good travels.

  15. Carmen

    I love olives, Budapest and especially Croatia. Did you go to Plitvice Lakes in Croatia? It’s the most beautiful place I’ve ever been and I can’t imagine you wouldn’t like it. A lot of travellers don’t get away from the coast when they go to Croatia but there’s a lot of beauty to be found away from the sea.
    I didn’t really like Prague but everyone else seems to love it!

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Carmen – I’ve been to Plitvice and like I said, the rest of Croatia away from Dubrovnik, while still not in my absolute favorite list, was definitely nicer in terms of the experiences I had.

  16. Amber

    First, I remember olives and pizza being a big problem in Argentina too, well a problem for the husband, I love olives. Second, when traveling through Croatia we pretty much skipped Dubrovnik. We had about a 2 hour bus layover there, enough time to walk through old town, stop outside the city walls to have a glorious pizza and sip a cappuccino, and then we made our way back to the bus and continued on our way. I definitely don’t regret that decision, particularly after spending 2+ weeks elsewhere in the country. Glad to hear you echo my thoughts.

  17. Alec Barron

    Sad to see Hong Kong on your list as it’s one of my favorite cities in the world but I can understand. There’s not a whole lot to see in Hong Kong.

    As for the city that impressed me the least, I’d vote Saigon/Ho Chi Minh. Perhaps too many people raved about it to me but I was underwhelmed. The food wasn’t as good as people said. The scooter traffic was maddening and stressful which made aimless wandering a less than enjoyable activity. I didn’t feel like there was a whole lot to see or do.

    I’m sure I’ll give Saigon another chance in the future though.

  18. Laura

    My least favorite country I’ve visited is Burma. I have absolutely no desire to go back. Every time I used to visit, I could just feel the tension in the air between the police and the people. It also didn’t help that the authorities mistook for me a local and assumed I was trying to get out of the country illegally. There’s also something eerie about being in a country with no ATM (although I’ve heard the first ever machine was installed recently).

    A country I really don’t care about visiting is Egypt. I know it’s one of those polarizing destinations but it’s not a country where I really want to take my chances being groped/sexually assaulted. I’m sure there are lovely people there, but I’ve heard enough stories from family and friends who’ve visited there. I’d much rather visit Jordan, Lebanon or Oman.

    I love black olives but detest the green ones.

  19. Gigi

    Oooh no! Switzerland? I love Switzerland!

    That said, I hate Barcelona, which everyone else seems to love. So I suppose you’re right. It’s all as arbitrary as olives (which I also hate).

  20. Margo

    Earl! I love this. I think it’s practically an obligation for someone who has traveled as much as you have to occasionally do this kind of post. I love Hungary, though, especially Budapest – but if had to compare to Prague, I’d choose Prague. I think people sometimes do this because they are often on the same itinerary. Curious what you think of Slovakia? Also I don’t like olives either. With my love of salty food and things that come in jars, it’s a mystery! 😉

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Margo – I’ve really enjoyed my visits to Slovakia. I think I’ve been twice so far. Although, each time I went I had a local friend that took me around so I’m sure that made a major difference!

    2. Wandering Earl

      Hey Margo – I really like Slovakia and have been several times. From Bratislava to Trencin to the mountains out east, I don’t have a bad thing to say. I’m a fan of the food, the low-key lifestyle and the fact that it’s not a very touristy destination at all.

  21. jasmine

    I loathe olives. The only food I’ve tried that I genuinely can’t stand!

    As for travel, I’ve never hated a place as much as I hate olives but Bangkok was a bit disappointing. Maybe it was just too much of a big city. I loved the other parts of Thailand I saw though.

    The first time I visited Cambodia, I didn’t love it. There were aspects of it I enjoyed but over all I didn’t get a good feeling from my visit there. However, I went back earlier this year to visit a family member who is now living there. Meeting all her local friends and having them to show me around, gave me a whole new perspective. Now I adore Cambodia so much I’m headed back for a third visit in a few weeks.

    In my experience, the people you meet can really make or break a destination. I also believe the higher your expectations are of a place, the more likely you are to be disappointed by it.

    Love your blog. 🙂

    1. Wandering Earl

      Thank you Jasmine 🙂 And what you said is perfectly true. I did not enjoy Bangkok too much the first couple of times either but then, just like with your experience in Cambodia, I visited again, having connected with some local people and the experience was completely different. Now I really enjoy spending time there!

  22. cindy singer

    I like most kinds of olives as well as most of the places I’ve visited. Out of the 25 (and still counting) countries I’ve been to, the one place I won’t return to is Tanzania. Having to hire an armed guide to go on a hike was not my idea of a good time. While Zanzibar was okay, it’s not worth going back to.

  23. Britany

    I actually haven’t been to a single one of your olive locations, but since I love olives, I’m going to ignore your judgement on these and visit them all someday anyways. 🙂

  24. Beth

    I absolutely despise olives, and am glad to see a good amount of travel bloggers who are with me on this!

    I personally love Hong Kong, but I also completely understand why a lot of people wouldn’t– it really didn’t grow on me either until after a year of living here. Most of the tourist attractions or temples aren’t very impressive and since everything was built recently, there just isn’t much history behind anything.

    It’s a beautiful urban landscape and has an amazing skyline as you mentioned, but unless you spend a long time here, I can see how it might not be too memorable.

  25. Karyn

    I’m the complete opposite, I adore olives!!!

    But I totally get you. What can be delicious for one person can be just yucky for another. We didn’t enjoy our first visit to Bali, and many other people we’ve spoken to have found it awful. But many other people adore it. We met a Danish couple in Thailand who describes Bali as “paradise”, yet paradise is the last word we would use to describe some parts of the island!

    But different strokes for different folks.

  26. Jeff

    A couple of places that stand out for me as disappointments
    1. Marrakech, Morocco. I bet 20 years ago it was incredible, now it was too touristy for me.
    2. Las Vegas of course.
    3. Chaing Mai. I had just come from China, Vietnam and then 10 days in Luang Prabang. Chaing Mai was a huge disappointment.

    I see your point on the UAE. I enjoyed my time there, but it was a 3 day vacation after 64 days of traveling through India.

  27. eemusings

    I do NOT like olives, though now I’m older, I will eat them if they are on a pizza in reasonable quantities.

    I really wanted to like Naples, but it failed to capture me. Brussels was also a bust.

  28. Rose

    I distinctly remember you egging me on to eat a piece of banana after I had told you bananas were the one thing I hated to eat, and that they made me want to gag. I have given up on trying by now… But definitely would go back to any one of my travel destinations, even my least favorites!

  29. Brian D.

    Fantastic post Earl. Literally the only thing I’d like to see more of on your blog is this type of criticism, as I find it very refreshing, honest and helpful.

    I must say that the Caribbean generally is my least favorite travel destination. I’ve been to Puerto Rico twice, and spent a week in the Bahamas, as well as made short cruise trip stops in Grand Cayman, Jamaica, St. Thomas, St. Croix, and Cozumel, and I didn’t like any of them.

    It’s of course impossible to generalize about an entire region, but in my experience the locals in these countries have not been especially friendly, there are often safety issues, and the lack of historical/cultural activities is a big negative for me and my wife. I have no doubt that we’d love certain Caribbean islands in the right circumstances, but so far I’ve really never been impressed and have no desire to explore them further.

    I’d also add that when my wife and I visited Hawaii, I heard and read many comparisons between Hawaii and the Caribbean, and I must say that Hawaii is about 1000 times better of a travel experience in my opinion. We spent 9 days on Oahu and were hugely impressed by the friendliness of the locals, the excellent food, the amazing natural beauty, and the variety of historical/cultural experiences combined with outdoor activities. And although they have many problems and some poverty there, we never felt unsafe or unwelcome the way we did in the Bahamas or St. Croix.

    So I guess my olive is the Caribbean generally, followed by people who compare the Caribbean to Hawaii. In my view, they’re entirely different. And by “different,” I mean Hawaii is entirely better.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Brian – Thanks for that comment and I definitely want to try and show all sides of travel, so I will put together a few more posts from this different angle. And I’m a huge fan of Hawaii as well…definitely more so than the Caribbean!

  30. Patty

    Olives? Like many places in the world I can take them or leave them. I don’t hate them just as I haven’t found any place in the world I have hated. Many places I don’t care if I see again just as I would never go out of my way for an olive.
    Love your blog!

  31. Chris

    Can’t say I agree with the places I’ve personally visited on your list, however I certainly was underwhelmed in Singapore (can’t say I’ve hated anywhere to date).

    It was far too ordered and sterile. Completely un-Asian!

    Again, it just shows how much individual experiences colour the world we see. One persons trash, is anothers treasure!

  32. kami

    Someone wise once said that Hungary is the most boring country in Europe and I couldn’t agree more. They literally have nothing super interesting there, it’s just a flat country with an average lake that Hungarians are crazy about and with Budapest that maybe is beautiful but other cities nearby (Vienna, Kraków, Prague…) are so much better. I totally understand you not liking it!

  33. Megan Tasker

    Firstly, I LOOOOOOVE olives, and I too would probably get in an argument with an olive hater. Olives are like cilantro though, you either love ’em or hate ’em (I love them both… even together… mmmm, food!). Secondly, I agree that some countries you just get a buzz from, while others, well, you just don’t. For me, I wasn’t a fan of Japan (although usually top country for most), and I really didn’t like the part of China I saw, which would make you think I might not like Asia, but I loved Mongolia, Siberia, Indonesia, Laos, India and Nepal like I love olives… so you just never know!? I think it’s healthy to have an opinion 🙂

  34. David @ That Gay Backpacker

    Earl, this olives thing could be a deal breaker for us – like f’real. But putting that aside, I dislike about half the places I go to so it’s a wonder that I travel at all. Vietnam was the worst. I hated virtually every moment. It’s in those awful moments that I realise just how much my environment shapes me – I have no ability to rise up the dislike I have for a place, and if I dislike it then I am angry ALL THE TIME.

  35. Cat of Sunshine and Siestas

    I probably made you eat olives in Spain, Ryan! I really enjoyed Dubrovnik, but we were there in the off-season and got pristine weather and great deals. I enjoyed Zadar and Split much more, though, because they were still a bit grittier. As for Budapest, it’s one of my favorites, and I can’t wait to go back at Christmas with my family and eat more sour cherry crepes!

  36. Denise

    No olive countries for me – I think for me it’s more about places I would go back to or not, and this will only depend on whether I think there’s more to do. I’ve enjoyed aspects of every single place I’ve been to. Some of them, I haven’t seen enough of.

  37. Nick Paton

    I’m not alone! For a little while there, I thought I might be the only human in the world that doesn’t like olives. I despise these little brown or green ovals of awfulness. I can’t stand them although I do try them about once a year as my olive-obsessed friends continue to remind me ‘it’s an acquired taste’.

    I’m not acquiring it!

  38. Virginija

    My friends say I’m also too positive about my travel experiences. When I think about my “olive”, Dubai comes to my mind too. I’m glad I visited that city, but I’m not so keen on going back. There are not so many historical places, city is not pedestrian-friendly, and as a not muslim I couldn’t go inside of any mosque. On the positive note, I admire, how such city was created almost in the middle of nowhere. I enjoyed flamingos in Ras Al Khor park, and I found very interesting to watch, how old wooden boats are arriving in Port Saeed, delivering new age goods, like refrigerators or tires, in the old fashion way.
    However I wouldn’t agree about Hong Kong. The place, having wild pink dolphins, cannot be on the “olive” list. 🙂

  39. Charmine

    Definately expected the UAE to appear in this list 🙂 When I think back to the four weeks I spent there (yes, it’s a long story), and am asked to speak about the nice things in Dubai, it’s a hard thing to do. Still I had an amazing amazing amazing time, because I met someone who became a really good friend by now, and we had an awesome time. That’s why I will remember Dubai always in a positive context.
    Generally I think that more than a 50% of how you like a place or a country is about the people you meet. The shittyiest bar where the same band plays the same 30 songs four times a week (Lhasa Bar, Kathmandu <3) can be the best, if you're there with the right people 🙂

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Charmine – The people you meet definitely plays a major role. And that is why I think that travel is all about the people…they make the difference!

  40. Ryan

    I’d agree that UAE and Hong Kong are overrated, but my least favorites are: New Zealand, Egypt, and Australia.

    I know a lot of people disagree with me, especially about Australia and New Zealand, but I didn’t find anything in either of those countries that made it worth the long flights.

  41. Biff carrington777

    I love olives especially the big green stuffed pimento ones … but anyhow BUDAPEST! that place is so much fun if you’re a rocker + all the girls(every single one) are some of the hottest chicks I’ve ever seen! Budapest is the S—! PEACE 🙂

  42. Norma

    Olives are really quite tasty, but never in dishes. Olive oil is a different matter–Such a wonderful ingredient for dishes, and alone w/ good french bread. Ymmm. Good quality oil, that is.
    Worst country ever is Saudi Arabia. Bahrain -same. This was over 25 yrs ago. Switzerland really is the most beautiful country geographically. So many things to consider when traveling, right? Different for everyone. I was never negative for any of the 38 countries I have visited. All had something unique to offer, either in geography, culture, food, wine, art, traffic-or lack of, vitality,
    Croatia, lovely, esp the islands & on a bike. Dubrovnik=one day is enough. Cruise ships? gag. Rovinj- lovely! Hong Kong? Same experience going to Chinatown in SF. Most profound visit was USSR in 1978, & Nepal in 1983. Then, Tanzania in 86, Thailand from 84-87 & China in 1985–before all of the changes that you young travelers kinda complain about. So glad I got to see those countries before so many changes!! Thanks!

  43. Noor - Desert to Jungle

    There is not much in life I dislike as much as olives!

    But I love Dubai/UAE while understanding why many people do not. When I started flying fairly regularly to SE Asia a few years ago I got so I just couldn’t bear that 13 hour flight so arranged stopovers in Dubai. Soon realised it was so much hotter and sunnier than London and that I could earn a living there. I just lived recently after spending five years there.

    But I totally get you on Hong Kong. I didn’t like it at all. I spent two months there and had some real adventures but the weather and the people were not nice. I was basically living on beans and toast for all that time as food was so expensive for my backpacker budget. I worked as a hostess for one night (in my naivety I didn’t know what that exactly meant), a waitress in a disco for three nights and a bar tender for the rest of the time.

    I was happy not to be constantly stared at having just spend five months in India but beyond that (and the nice people I met) I can’t think of much good about HK.

  44. Dr. J

    I never went in for olives until I stayed in a monastery on Mt Athos in 1994. Dinner was a hunk of bread and a bowl of olives (unpitted). I figured, “If these guys basically live on this stuff, they can’t be all bad.” And they’re not.

  45. S

    I agree with you completely on Hong Kong!! I’ve haven’t been to Dubrovnik and Hungary and held such a romanticised view of them ..that I’m kinda disappointed with your verdict! Ah well…

  46. nicole

    My husband would disagree with me, but I didn’t much like Bosnia. Serbia, on the other hand, I loved. We also didn’t like Croatia, either. It’s beautiful. Such gorgeous water. But, I don’t know, we just didn’t connect. Maybe we can go back again. I liked Zagreb, a little though.

  47. Erick

    Interesting list. I get a lot of flack when I tell people Buenos Aires is my least favorite city on the planet followed closely by St.Petersburg (more so the residents and less the city). And funny, because I hated olives until I was 25 and now I love them. lol
    I kind of agree in Hungary BUT I will say that I had a very personal experience there I’ll remember for the rest of my life so it gets a pass.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Erick – Personal experiences such as those definitely give a destination a pass. Obviously I don’t know what it was but if it made an impact on your life, then it’s hard to think about that destination negatively.

  48. Megan

    There is hope for olives…I hated them most of my life, but one day after many years of non-trying found I had indeed grown a taste for them. Travel wise…Tashkent is the olive of all travel destinations to me. That city just utterly closed its heart to me, and I can’t even put my finger on why but I did not like it. Who knows, maybe one day I will have a taste for Tashkent, but so far, it would top my list of places I would not want to return to.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Megan – I think time is running out for me with the olives. If I don’t suddenly enjoy them soon, I will shut my mouth to them forever!

  49. Katie

    I did like Hungary and Budapest okay, but I absolutely detest olives. I’m not sure I would’ve been able to eat that pizza even after picking them off – like green peppers (another thing I hate), I can just tell they were once there.

    I can think of a few places I’ve visited that I just felt blah about: Cologne, Transdniestria, Erzurum and Chisinau, although Chisinau was largely due to the weather and I would give it another shot.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Katie – It wasn’t easy eating that pizza. I’m the same…if I know what ‘was’ there, it’s almost the same as them still being there 🙂

  50. Sam

    I used to hate olives too. I believe you can change, but if you don’t that’s fine too.

    I’m with you on Switzerland. Just meh. Hungary, though? No doubt I won’t be the only one who’s shocked by this admission of indifference. Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy Uruguay on our current South America trip; it was really expensive, the food was bland and we really didn’t find anything of cultural or historical interest. If it weren’t for a really lovely couple Zab and I couchsurfed with in Montevideo, it would’ve been a total flop. Still, I don’t think I’d go back.

  51. Kiera @EasyTravelMom

    Great comparison. I too hate olives… but, I do love Budapest! I only went once and did not expect much but enjoyed the people I met and the places I visited. On the flip end, when everyone was loving Prague, I didn’t care for it. Travel really is like olives, or whatever food you have that love/hate feel for.

  52. Lunaguava

    I can’t really relate to the olive situation, being a native of southern Europe (you don’t like olives and bread? No food for you!), but agree with the general gist. There are always places we find hard to like – some times it’s us and context, timing and whatever else is going on in life; other times, let’s admit it, the places are rubbish (I’m happy never to set foot in Tunis again, for instance). Nonetheless, there will always be someone who is madly in love with a place you dislike and call you a fool. I have no interest in visiting UAE or Switzerland, at least until I’m maybe 75 and too old to care, but I love Budapest and Hong Kong. I think context helps, particularly if there is a local friend involved. Mzuri above mentions Istanbul, which is a city I also found underwhelming (and noisy, dirty and smelly) at first glimpse, until I saw it accompanied by a local friend, which transformed it into one of my most romantic cities – secret bars, the Bosphorus at dusk, young turks talking and laughing into the wee hours, the cats at Hagia Sophia… I have beautiful memories of it, but even as I crossed the Bosphorus and gazed at the city’s gorgeous skyline as the sun began to set and the small waves splashed against the ferry, I was aware it was city I would never have loved by myself. On a last note, some times I fear becoming jaded by travel, and not giving full attention to a place which doesn’t attract me at first sight. Whenever I feel it coming, I try to perform a ” travel reset” and pretend it’s the first place I’ve ever travelled to and I can’t compare it with anywhere else. It usually works…

    1. Wandering Earl

      That’s quite a good idea I must say and I do agree that at times, it can be hard to give a place a fair shot after our initial reaction. And many times, that initial reaction, as you pointed out, might have to do with factors that aren’t directly related to the destination. It would be a shame to let that affect our overall conclusion about a place. (And I fully agree about Istanbul being a much different city when you have a local connection!)

  53. Rick

    First time commenting on here.I enjoy seeing other peoples opinions on their favorite and least favorite destinations.It’s great for dreamers like me 🙂 .You should try to make more posts like this,and maybe add more detail to the destination descriptions as to why you didn’t like each destination specifically,overall great post.I really like that you share a passion for eastern europe,many people who travel don’t show enough interest in EE and it’s nice that your blog tackles this issue.You can’t beat the beauty and femininty of the women their either (if that’s your thing).For me my top 3 destinations in the world i’ve visited are Antwerp,Belgium(most people don’t talk about this city)-Amsterdam and NYC.My least favorite 3 ive been are: Los Angeles,Berlin,Basel.Im curious about your thoughts on becoming a web designer for location independence?

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Rick – Thank you for your comment and for your recommendations! And thank you for sharing your list as well. As for your question, web design is definitely an opportunity to live a location independence lifestyle. It takes a great deal of work and effort but if you’re up for that, anything is possible for sure.

  54. mzuri

    …. passed over too quickly when you talked about ordering pizza… a heads-up: when you finally get to Georgia, if you order pizza, make sure to order it without mayonnaise. I don’t remember the word for mayonnaise in Georgian, so it will be a good word to have on hand. That is a default topping unless you go to Ronnie’s in Tbilisi.

  55. Janice

    I understand how you can’t connect to certain places. I did feel that way about Switzerland, too, when we visited ther this summer. I honestly do not care to return there, but I felt quite different about Tuscany, even though it was more chaotic, and nothing was on time. And I love olives! I couldn’t get enough of them in Italy, so I’m sorry to hear that you don’t like them. But I have the same reaction toward cucumbers.

  56. Heather

    I’m totally with you on the olives, they’re awful! Great post, it’s nice to hear about places that people don’t enjoy just for a change of pace from the “10 places you must visit or you haven’t lived” posts. I can’t wait to go to all these places and form my own opinions!

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Heather – Excellent…that’s exactly what you should do! And I’m sure you’ll have your own very different experiences.

  57. Eric | Venture2Adventure

    Great post! Travel is usually only portrayed in only a positive light. It is nice to get a sense for what place people don’t like and their reasoning behind it. I used to feel the same way about San Francisco as you do about Switzerland – that it was just kind of there, but I really enjoyed my last trip there.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Eric – That’s a good point too…we can change our opinions after visiting a place for a second or third time. I was never a fan of Singapore until I visited for the third time and now I really enjoy spending time there.

  58. Emily McIntyre

    Wow, my husband hates olives about as much as you do. And interestingly enough, I find I feel the same way about most of Orange County, CA–destination that it is. I also detest the Badlands and almost all deserts in the US.

    My list isn’t international, but I enjoyed yours!


  59. Kevin

    Love this post.

    I get what you’re saying about Switzerland but I still love it for the scenery, the lakes, and all the sub-cultures.

    My biggest disappointment (although I didn’t hate it by any stretch) was Spain. I went all over that country and was rarely treated nicely by locals. They seemed more annoyed by us (Americans) than welcoming. However, we also went to Portugal and it seemed like instantly, everyone was friendly and wanting to practice their English with us.

    Bangkok is another city that lots of people love, but I found it to be way too humid and polluted, and really just another big city (with lots of boring temples!).

    Cheers to differences!

  60. grahame

    Had to have a good old laugh here and while I love olives especially those big juicy ones you get in Spain, I not only wanted to put pen to paper about the worst places I’ve ever visited, but also wanted to tell you about the vegetarian pizza I ordered at a restaurant in Madrid. As you might know the menu came in both Spanish and English as well as each item being numbered. You cannot get better than that. However when my vegetarian pizza did arrive, it came complete with olives and salami (slices of greasy meat). I’ve been a vegetarian for almost forty years now and I don’t think that I’ve eaten salami ever. After explaining to the waiter in broken Spanish that my order was all wrong, the waiter took the pizza away only to bring the very same pizza back. Only this time minus the salami. Don’t ask me what happened next. But my worst food experience was in Cambodia when I had to send the food back three times and even the salad didn’t go down well. My best vegetarian meal I’ve ever had was at a restaurant in Hong Kong. The moral of the story is that we all have different tastes and places we love or loath but the beauty of it all is the freedom it gives us to explore where others dare not venture.
    PS while Switzerland does and can be boring, don’t bother to go to Casablanca in Morocco. It’s one city everyone should avoid. Dull, grey and completely unromantic.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Grahame – Very well said! And if you tried to return a pizza in Romania, they will probably just stare at you for a few seconds and then walk away, leaving the pizza you are complaining about right in front of you.

  61. Glenn I

    A few olives go a long way for me.

    Travel, too. I love it but have to ration it. I always get some bug. But I always do things and learn things I wouldn’t get to in my little home ruts.

  62. mzuri

    What an entertaining post! Like you, I despise olives. Ditto for dill pickles.

    Destinations I found underwhelming include Istanbul, Dubai, Addis Ababa, and Santa Fe.

    Istanbul, to me, is just like a gigantic historic amusement park filled with crowds, lines, annoying touts, and where mediocre food is the norm. Yes, I met some engaging folks and found a few bright spots (Gulhane Park, Heybeliada Island) in my three weeks there, but otherwise, not a fan.

    Addis Ababa: Noisy, polluted, and as a relatively young city, it has no city center, really. It’s a little distasteful to see the vehicular excess (e.g. Hummers, SUVs) of the many NGOs in this city, and the hand-over-fist profits made by some hotel venues from the NGO trade, especially when contrasted with the surrounding poverty. And then there’s the “ferenji tax,” which is applied with virtuosity in Addis. Expect to do some heavy money hemorrhaging until you get wise to the lay of the land. I love Ethiopia, but not Addis. (For God’s sake, if you plan a trip to Ethiopia, please leave your pencils, pens, and candy at home. If you want to contribute in some way, then select an organization or cause in Ethiopia and donate to that before or after your visit.) I especially liked Harar, Awassa, and Gonder.

    Dubai: Kind of like a Las Vegas for shoppers but without the gambling. (You can still get the booze, but at a premium price.) The city has done a good job of marketing itself to the world.

    Santa Fe: Just not my cup of tea.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Mzuri – Interesting list! Istanbul is one of my favorites but I can see how you reached your conclusion as well. I think that’s one city where you really need to connect with some locals for a more authentic experience as it can be hard to find the hidden gems just as a normal visitor. Thank you for sharing your ‘olives’!

  63. Matthew Cheyne

    I hate olives too…with a passion. But that said, I love cooking with olive oil. Go figure.

    Seeing that I haven’t been overseas yet I can’t add to your list of countries I dislike visiting. However I wanted to congratulate you for being on the road for 5,000 days plus. That is one hell of an achievement.

    Thank you for being who you are and all that you do 🙂

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Matthew – Thank you for that! I almost forgot about the 5000 days until someone else pointed it out. And good point about the olive oil…I don’t mind that at all either.

  64. Melanie Murrish

    Sorry mate, but you haven’t tried olives enough…..a dozen times? Try 20 years then you will like them-that’s about how long it took me to take to them and now I love them, but there are olives and then there are olives! Just wondering why I persevered for so long; if I could only practice this perseverence in other areas of my life I would be bloody successful! France is a big olive for me; I’ve been numerous occasions, driven from north to south and back again(we have friends there), and I still don’t know what it is about the place that I don’t take to-I will not be beaten on this one either though!

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Melanie – I don’t think I can handle 20 years of trying olives and I’m not convinced that it’s worth the result of possibly enjoying them in the end 🙂 Although, that is quite impressive perseverance you displayed, I will give you that!

  65. kle

    First of all: I LOVE olives so i have one question: did you try the black ones? as they have a complete different taste compared to the green ones..
    That said, i agree that we all have different taste in terms of travel and destinations. I would die for lying on a sunny beach all day for example and i found Prague quite disappointing.
    I also don’t particularly love London, but only because i’ve lived there for 6 years and i grow tired of it. The last place i would like to visit again is Milan. Not only i don’t like the city, i despise it. I find it cold and meaningless.

    Ps. All that talk about pizza and olives made me day-dream of having one right now.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Kle – I have tried black olives but still can’t handle it. Perhaps it’s just the idea that anything called an ‘olive’ will be terrible for me…I need to figure out a way to deal with this mental block!

  66. Steve C

    Earl, your olives are my rutabagas! I’ll eat most anything, but when it comes to rutabagas, that’s where I draw the line. As there are more than a few types of olives, do you have the same aversion to black olives? I love black olives but it took a long time before I learned to enjoy the green kind. I think it had something to do with my first visit to Greece.

    I’ve also tried to determine why I’ve liked certain places and placed others on the “Meh” list. I think it’s got a lot to do with culture and the ones that make you uncomfortable. In my own experience, having visited many cultures, my “olives” are mostly in Africa, (excluding Egypt). My feeling while there was exactly opposite of the way I felt throughout South East Asia. I reluctantly have narrowed it to their types of religions. I wish someone could come up with why I should feel different.

    Which brings me to the main purpose, or project that I will be working on when I take off traveling next year. I plan to confront my prejudices and strive to keep an open mind while I learn why people think and act the way they do. That, in my opinion, is where the olives (rutabagas) grow.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Steve – If it’s any form/type of olive, I can’t stand it! I’ve tried several varieties and have yet to find one that doesn’t make me gag 🙂

  67. Lizzie

    I do not agree about Dubrovnik. But that’s because I travelled there in 2007 when tourism was developed there but before the massive boom in Croatian travel in 2008. And Dubrovnik couldn’t have been nicer. The streets weren’t crowded, the locals were friendly, the food was wonderful and everyone seemed so happy and full of life.
    I visited again last year and was disappointed in what I thought had been so lovely. The ‘tourists’ had moved in, the streets were packed, the food had degraded and the locals looked jaded and disinterested, and I couldn’t wait to leave.
    It upset me that this is what popularity had done to such a beautiful city…

  68. Talon

    Definitely agree! Sometimes I get heat for saying I found NZ boring, my extreme distaste for Bali, and that while Thailand was a nice country with wonderful people and food, I only feel meh about it overall. We’re all different, and we all have things that we absolutely love (I ADORE olives!) and don’t really like. That’s why I never advise someone not to go somewhere. All I can do is share my experience and feelings. We’re different people, and they might have a totally different reaction.

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Talon – I’m the same in trying not to advise anyone on whether they should or should not go somewhere. The simple truth is that everyone really does need to experience a place for themselves because the result might not just be different from my own experiences, but it could be drastically different!

  69. Ryan from Jets Like Taxis

    Oh man. I couldn’t have agreed more about olives, until our life in Montenegro. I opened up a bit more, learned and tried to understand it a bit more, and now I can and will eat olives. Nema problema. Although not my favorite thing out there, I’m way past back in the day, when they used to always make me gag.

    As for places you can’t get down with…

    Dubrovnik: We couldn’t agree more. We spent 4 days here, and it wasn’t our thing at all. Even the locals couldn’t tell us local places to go eat that were away from the tourist areas. It’s like Disneyland or a movie set. Sure, it’s beautiful. But really, you need like one day there, two max, unless you’re young and fancy-free and want to party at all the places that are opening up on the north end of town. I always tell advice-seekers that they need only a couple days and should spend more time in the rest of the country (which we have not done yet, and you have).

    Switzerland: I’ve been all over the country, most recently we were in Basel and Zurich earlier this year. Basel is nice, Zurich is boring. But, I didn’t really connect with either place. What I *did* connect with were the tiny mountain towns I visited a few times over a decade ago. Towns that had cows walking down the street and one tavern and looked over the edges of cliffs. I have the sinking feeling that they’re all full of tourists nowadays. Schade.

    Great post, man. Especially the full circle at the end. There are so many experiences out there that we just can’t have if we stick to our guns 24/7. We have to be open to new things and take the opportunities that come our way, even if we wouldn’t normally be gung-ho about soe of them. Sure, sometimes they’re your olives; but the vast majority of the time, they’re unforgettably wonderful. Keep on keepin’ on!

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Ryan – I do agree that the majority of the time we do get those wonderful experiences! And of course, a lot of it has to do with our travel approach as I do think we all have the ability to enjoy every place we visit. But in reality, there are going to be some places that we just don’t connect with. And well done with the olive transformation…perhaps that will happen to me eventually!

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