One of the biggest misconceptions about travel, in my opinion, is that simply the act of traveling somewhere will make you love the destination you find yourself in. Over my years of frequent travel and living abroad, I’ve visited lots of places that I didn’t love, places that I have no interest in returning to, places that just don’t vibe with my personality. Sometimes those places are destinations that other people love and are surprised to hear me say I didn’t enjoy them. I’ve been honest in the past on Land of Marvels about not liking San Francisco or about how I didn’t like Rome at all the first time I visited. But perhaps the most important note to make on this topic is that it’s completely ok for you not to fall in love with every place you visit, and even more so, it’s perfectly ok to not like a place and to say so with an open and honest mind.
Recently on our trip through Europe, one of our stops was Munich, Germany. We were planning to road trip through Austria so Munich seemed a great city to base ourselves for the start and end of our road trip and would offer us the opportunity to see Germany for the first time, especially the region of Bavaria which I’d really wanted to see. Ultimately, I walked away from Munich with a sense of disappointment and for numerous reasons, I realized that perhaps Munich and I just aren’t meant to get along.
Personally for me, the city seemed harsh, both architecturally and in personality. The local culture wasn’t compatible with my personality and I had a hard time with the brusque and efficient attitude from locals. After our first day in Munich, I literally said to Nick “what are we doing wrong that everyone seems so harsh with us?” We walked in multiple cafes and restaurants where we were basically just ignored or spoken to very brusque-ly. Not one person in any establishment ever said hello or smiled at us and people literally walked right in front of us in the streets. It wasn’t until I googled our issue to understand that the culture in parts of Germany is just more brusque than we’re used to, very efficient and knowing that after the fact did ease our sensation a bit. But I’ll be honest, I still had a hard time with it and it really affected me during our couple days in the city.
I’ve traveled all over the world, lived in multiple countries and am not one to stereotype entire groups of people or cultures, so I say the above with an open mind and that’s why I wanted to confirm that it wasn’t something we were doing to be rude or insensitive to local culture during our time in Germany. But even knowing that the culture of Bavaria might lean toward efficiency over politeness in general, it’s still ok for us as visitors to accept and understand that but to also dislike it. I felt very uncomfortable in that type of setting and as someone who loves to say hello and make people feel welcome, I had a hard time with the personality of Munich.
The point is this: you’re not going to love every place you visit and that’s perfectly alright. We’re not all meant to love every place or to jive with every personality around the world. I personally love France and don’t find the rude French stereotype to be true, though many people do. Then again, you might feel the same way about Germany. Whatever the personality of a place or its people, it’s important to be educated and understand why something might not be how you expect it to be. It’s important to remember that different places feel different and that each place you visit has a “soul” of its own, if you will, each place has a personality of its own and it might be compatible with yours and it might not.
Sometimes we might love a place, sometimes we might not – but either way, seeing places and forming our own opinion is ultimately the goal of travel and how we ultimately learn from the destinations we visit. I didn’t love Munich and that’s ok. We each form our own opinions as travelers, seeing places through our own eyes and if you love a destination, then great. And if you don’t, that’s ok too.