I came across an article recently that rated nine of the most disappointing attractions in Europe – including seeing the Mona Lisa, Manneken Pis in Belgium and going on a gondola ride in Venice. The article is fairly amusing, but I have to say that I don’t really agree any of these attractions could be perceived as disappointing. While it’s understandable that some people may be dismayed that their first glimpse of the Mona Lisa is shared with hundreds of other tourists packed into the room, all a-clamour to see the portrait and take their own photo of it, I would say that being surrounded by such obvious enthusiasm could only serve to make the experience more exciting for me.
Okay, so crowds can be annoying – but they don’t necessarily ruin attractions. The Mona Lisa, which is guardedly stored in the Louvre, Paris, is undoubtedly one of the must see objects in the world. So a lot of people go there – meaning there’s never a quiet moment during opening hours in the Mona Lisa room. And while you may have dreamed about an hour of quiet contemplation in front of this masterpiece, the majority of us aren’t so interested in seeing the picture as we are in having the experience of having seen it – and I think the fact that the business of the room generates such a buzz of excitement is a great thing. After all, we all know what it looks like. The attraction here is taking part in an experience, not viewing a painting (though that’s something you’ll remember as well).
The article also slated gondola rides in Venice, Italy, in part for being like a ‘tourist parade’ for the locals. I’m not sure why that’s such a bad thing. We get tourists here in York all the time and nobody bats an eyelid. Why would people stare at those enjoying a boat ride? Many people think gondola rides are one of the quintessential experiences in Venice – but it is true they’re a tourist attraction. Luckily for me, a bunch of people having a look wouldn’t really put me off if it’s what I wanted to do.
I know that the list, which also included Denmark‘s Little Mermaid statue and Dublin Castle in Ireland was intended as a bit of fun, but it saddens me that people reading could be put off some of the most incredible attractions in the world. You make your holiday what it is – so if it’s your dream to take in the Mona Lisa at whatever cost, go for it!