Alaska is … green? Are you kidding me?
Yes, it’s true. Recently I took my first cruise to Alaska, only to discover that much of it is green, not covered in ice and snow. I was flabbergasted.
Maybe others know pretty much what to expect when arriving at their destination, but man, was I taken back. I had expected glorious white topography. Not a rain forest.
“You idiot,” some might say. “It’s summer.”
Sigh. Now I know.
It would be one thing if this was the first time this had happened to me. Sadly, my list below shows eight times I was caught off guard when arriving in a new place. Some surprises were bonuses; others were just plain weird. One day I’ll learn about this thing called the Internet and do more research.
Or maybe that surprised feeling is just the reason I love to travel!
8 Travel Surprises
1. Dominican Republic: I expected paradise. I found a handful of near-death experiences. (Santo Domingo is a very frightening place to be lost. See Drama in the DR: Lessons from a Series of Unfortunate Events for more on this topic.)
2. Chicago: I expected a city, not a beach. Bonus!
3. New York: I expected world-class shopping and dining. I smelled like kabobs and roasted nuts by the time I found either of these things.
4. Aruba: I expected tropical. I found a desert — except for the lawn-watering resorts.
5. Seattle: I expected Pearl Jam. I found sushi.
6. New Orleans: I don’t know what I expected, but not that smell. Bourbon Street at night puts the smelliest college parties to shame.
7. Boston: I expected chowdah. I found food trucks! (Don’t miss the SoWa food trucks in the South End throughout the non-frigid months.)
8. Vancouver: I expected outdoorsy attractions. I found crazy hockey fans.
As I came up with this list, I started to wonder how many other travelers have gone somewhere only to find out their expectations came from the ether. How many knew that the star-studded sidewalk in Hollywood would be lined with shady characters selling some really weird swag? How many expected to be able to buy a T-shirt while checking out the Sphinx? Share your story of mistaken expectations in the comments!
— written by Matt Leonard