1.  The Sistine Chapel – Wow.  Talk about overkill.  I mean really, I have seen toddlers create finger paintings that have less clutter.  It was like someone ate a pizza with everything and then threw it up on the ceiling.  Truly, this was a case of “No really, I think that I can add just one more thing and it will be perfect!”  Or possibly, like Charles Dickens (who was paid by the word), perhaps Michaelangelo was paid by the brush stroke?  Ugh.

 

2.  The Coliseum in Rome – Well, I suppose that this would have been more impressive had I not seen it at around 7 in the morning, which is apparently when every single Japanese tourist with a giant camera was scheduled to tour the site.  It’s hard to picture the great Coliseum, filled with Roman citizens watching gladiators when you spending your time dodging camera flashes and hoping to avoid being the scenery in every single photo that the Japanese tourist group takes.  Also, it’s only actually partially (not even half, apparently) original.  That takes it down a notch, too.  And finally, it’s hard to picture Ancient Rome when the only outside sounds that you hear (other than cameras clicking) are the whirs of vespa scooters outside on the ring road.

3.  The Pyramids of Giza, Egypt – “What?  You have got to be kidding me.  Are those it?”  That’s what I asked myself when I first laid eyes on the pyramids back in 2001.  I had been studying them for years, and had even been considering doing a Master’s degree in Egyptology at the time.  And, of course, I had also been indoctrinated my whole life with the idea that they were these massive structures, influencing writers and poets and directors, etc.  Even Napoleon’s army thought that they were amazing.  Well, guess what?  They are tiny.  I mean that.  If you have ever lived in a city of any size, with buildings about ten stories high, these are a disappointment.  Totally.  And it didn’t help that when we were allowed to tour the inside of the smallest one (the one ordered by Menkaura), I forget that I am about a foot and a half taller than average ancient Egyptians, and clocked my head on the ceiling of the ramp going down to the bottom.  Have you ever heard granite echo?  It’s not particularly inspiring and I knew that it was going to leave a mark when I didn’t even feel the pain for a solid two minutes.  That’s when you know that it’s bad.  Oh, so bad.  Did I mention that, despite the fact that the pyramids have been around for thousands of years, the efforts of so many tourists climbing all over them and wiping their grubby hands all over the paintings inside basically guarantees that they will only be around for another twenty years or so.  Quick!  See them before they start allowing tourists to take pieces of them home as souvenirs!

(Don’t worry – there are a lot of place that I thought would be really disappointing and turned out to be amazing! – Those are coming up)

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