Sundance Times - Continuing the Crook County News Since 1884

This Side of the Pond

Notes from an Uprooted Englishwoman


August 5, 2021

You can’t please all of the people all of the time, even when they’re on vacation. We’ve had our fair share of baffling reviews for tourist destinations here in Wyoming, from the person who didn’t think there was much point going up to Devils Tower because you can “clearly see the rock approaching when you drive at it” to the one who thought Yellowstone was awful because “it was too hot the day I went.”

It’s the same in my homeland, where even places that are littered with history both recent and ancient can still disappoint. Take, for example, the review that went viral last week from an anonymous tourist for an area of Wales called Snowdonia.

It’s a national park in which I’m certain you’d feel quite at home. It’s filled with sweeping vistas carved by glaciers, unique flora and beautiful lakes and mountains, including Snowdon after which it is named.

The unknown tourist visited the largest natural lake in Wales, which is home to a species of fish called the gwyniad. This rare and critically endangered species has been paddling around in Bala Lake since the last ice age about 10,000 years ago.

All that would seem like plenty to write home about, but not for the unnamed tourist. They only gave it two stars out of five because they googled directions to the nearest McDonald’s and found the closest was 23 miles away.

“Is it me or does this seem very worrying?” they asked, musing that it must be due to some kind of “food mafia’ in the area “what prevents decent takeaways from opening.”

The tourist chastised nearby inhabitants for not understanding McDonald’s is “a universal restaurant” with something for every diner. It’s certainly an interesting point, if not necessarily a good one.

Even the world-famous Stonehenge can’t escape criticism. Now, I will admit that Stonehenge isn’t quite as breathtaking as the photos would make it appear. It’s situated next to the road I used to drive between my home and university campus, and therein lies the problem: it’s right next to a road.

This is why all the photos you’ll find of the ancient monument are from the same angle. It’s also smaller than you’re probably expecting.

Still, it’s a mysterious monument from an unexplained past and iconic across the world. It does not merit the single star rating one tourist gave it, complaining it was “just a few rocks and nothing to do.”

“They should knock it down and build an arcade,” said the reviewer. “Don’t waste your time, what a silly place.”

When London appears in a movie, you know right away where the scene was shot because the camera will linger on Big Ben. At 316 feet in height, when it was built in 1859 it boasted the largest and most accurate four-faced striking and chiming clock in the world.

Like Stonehenge, it’s iconic. One tourist, however, gave it the following lack of praise: “I don’t understand all the hype with this clock. It is literally just a clock. It’s going to be a digital one in thirty years anyway.”

Actually, when I think about it, these days it’s more likely to be the London Eye signaling the presence of a movie’s characters in my capital city. When it was built in 2000, it was the tallest Ferris wheel in the world; it isn’t any more, and it also lost the claim to fame of being the highest public viewing point in London after The Shard opened in 2013.

Hard to argue, then, with the tourist who said, “To be honest I feel it is an enlarged Ferris wheel which is given too much publicity.” I do, however, have a few questions for the tourist who reported that, “My boyfriend made me go on this and I cried the whole time.”

Other tourists who perhaps should have looked a little further into the sightseeing options they chose include the tourist who criticized the National Gallery for being “just a collection of pictures,” the one who didn’t like Columbia Road Flower Market because it’s “mostly flowers,” the one who said you should avoid Manchester Central Library “unless you want to look at books” and the one who didn’t like the UK’s tallest mountain, Ben Nevis, because it was “very steep and too high.”

One tourist disliked Tower Bridge for the crime of not being London Bridge, while another thought Edinburgh Castle was “a bit old” and should be demolished in order to, “put up a better attraction for tourists as it’s taking up a lot of space in town.”

I might say the same of the person who cited a fear of getting killed as their reason to dislike the Tower of London. I know it used to be a fortress in which the monarch’s worst enemies were stored (and occasionally beheaded), but this poor person seems to have had an oversized reaction:

“I was scared of the river and getting killed and a man followed me and there was a scary walkway and curly wurly stairs and the swords were too violent.”

On the other hand, I can’t help but agree with this review of Westminster Abbey, which has been the site of royal coronations, burials and weddings for centuries but, according to this tourist, is really just a big church:

“Dead famous people, queue forever to get in, rip-off to get in, can’t talk loud when you do, can’t do knee slides on the shiny bits and saw no ghosts whatsoever.”

Fairly certain this wasn’t the same tourist who found nothing to enjoy in the Tower of London. Unlike that scaredy-cat, though, I can’t help thinking this one would be kind of fun to go on vacation with.


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