- Times Square, New York City
In 1978 a young Madonna moved to New York, telling a taxi driver to drop her “in the centre of everything.” He must’ve f*cking hated her because she got dropped off in Times Square. Things worked out ok for Madge in the end, but no good will come of your visit to Times Square.
It’s a busy intersection that every New Yorker aims to avoid. Guys will accost you on the street peddling knock-off DVDs and their hip hop mixtapes, while you’re blinded by the gaudy light-up ads for Coca-Cola, Samsung and whatever you’re planning to see on Broadway. You can eat in a chain restaurant, shop in a chain store and – if you’re just the worst kind of person imaginable – visit M&M World.
- Astrological Clock, Prague
This is the oldest working astrological clock in the world and there’s absolutely nothing interesting about that. A clock is just a clock and even the beautiful ones aren’t very impressive. Big Ben? Yawn.
Ah but this one is a giant cuckoo clock that chimes every hour, you say? It sure is, but it does very little when it chimes (a few figurines come out) and will never be worth the fight you’ll face against fellow tourists who can’t find anything better to do in one of Europe’s most beautiful capitals. The Square the clock is in is stunning and you’re better off wandering around Prague’s winding streets than waiting on the clock’s chimes.
- Eiffel Tower, Paris
Visiting ‘The Shame of Paris’ will mean waiting in a hefty queue while aggressive touts try to hawk key-ring versions of the very thing you’re standing under. The tower boasts three floors; all offering what is basically the same view, and a restaurant that’s far too tacky to be priced so extortionately.
And what will your pictures from the tower show? Everything in the Paris but the most quintessential of Parisian landmarks. Why not take a swift elevator to the top of Tour Montparnasse and enjoy a view of Paris with its most famous resident in it instead?
- Tower Bridge, London
Having worked as a London tour guide, I saw that no sight excited the visitors (read: yanks) more than ‘London Bridge’. One woman even burst in to tears when it came in to view for us! Oh but wait, it’s not London Bridge, it’s Tower f*cking Bridge… because ya know, it has towers on it.
Regardless of the wrong name visitors attribute to it, Tower Bridge is impressive only in how boring it is. It’s named for the Tower of London (which is the most fascinating London landmark and you *have* to visit it), but is actually 900 years younger and just designed to look kinda old. People wait around for ages to see it raise. If you’ve made it the whole way to London, one of the world’s most exciting cities, don’t waste your time being in awe of a god-damn bridge!
- Berghain, Berlin
Berlin is known for its spectacular clubbing scene and no club on earth is more renowned than Berghain. If you’re gonna be visiting wrap up well as you’ll be expected to wait up to three hours in line to enter this disused power station, tucked away in an East Berlin industrial estate.
The bouncers are all distinctly German: cold, difficult to read and often bizarre to deal with. You could be too old, too young, too foreign, too ugly, too drunk, too gay, not gay enough… it doesn’t really matter here. The bottom line is you’re not getting in. If you do manage to get in, then Berghain is just what you expect; a giant concrete warehouse with pounding techno and a host of odd Germans dancing ‘til dawn. No different to any other major club in Europe.
- Casablanca, Morocco
“Of all the movie clichés in all the world, you fell for this one.” Casablanca the city and Casablanca the movie couldn’t be any less like each other. The film crew never came anywhere near the dusty dunes of Morocco; it was entirely filmed on a Hollywood set 6000 miles away. And I doubt anyone involved could’ve even pointed out Casablanca on a map.
If you’re expecting a romantic adventure then you will be bitterly disappointed here. Casablanca is a sand-battered, grimy and sprawling metropolis. The streets are peppered with fast food chains that are crammed with local men prone to yelling a “hi baby” at any Western girls they see. (And at very Caucasian guys like me!) The Hassan II Mosque is strikingly beautiful, but you should go to Tangier or Marrakech if you want to enjoy yourself for more than just an hour.
- Temple Bar, Dublin
Oh you came to Dublin to drink? Shame on you and your offensive stereotypes! And shame on us for playing in to them. Dublin is one of the best cities in the world to enjoy a few drinks. Temple Bar however is not where you should go.
Temple Bar is populated almost entirely by tourists and those who are happy to rip them off. It’s a tiny part of Dublin that draws the drunkest, loudest crowds. Nothing here is “authentic” or where any self respecting Dubliner would really want to drink on a Saturday night. Luckily, Temple Bar is easily avoidable and you can get a decent drink almost everywhere else in Dublin.