I’ve been asked this by family & friends at home. I’ve been asked by other travellers I meet on the road, by hostel staff and more. It drives me crazy!
“Why would you go there?!?!?”
Now, I don’t mean people who are asking sincerely, people who are interested in the adventure you’ve got planned and want to learn about a place they don’t know much about.
I’m talking about people who mean it in a derogatory way. When they ask this question, they’re not enquiring about your interests – they’re accusing you of going somewhere shit, stupid, not worth going.
Why would you say that?
I’m doing something that I’m excited about, and you’re trying to put me down for it!
This morning I was checking out of a hostel (I’ll not name it, as it was actually a great overall experience and don’t want you making a bad judgement about it)…
And as I’m checking out, the guy asked: “So, where are you off to now?”
I answered: “To Spišské Podhradie, the village near the amazing Spiš Castle”
In a weird, kinda confused tone: “Oh. You’re actually staying there? You know you could just do a day trip from here, right? There isn’t much there”
Ok, so he didn’t ask the exact question I stated… But same shit, right!?
I had looked into a day trip, but it’s 2 hours on 2 busses to get here and then the same back. Why would I spend half a day on busses and only get to see 1 castle? This way I get to not stress about an early morning and long day, I get to have a relaxed day getting here – I stopped for coffee between busses as I wasn’t in a rush and could get a later bus.
I’m staying in Penzion Chalupka, which is great accomodation – it’s like a real home, and the host is amazingly friendly and helpful (though his English is not his strongest skill). I have a private room for 16 Euro, and shared use of a kitchen, small front garden and a huge back garden with AMAZING views of Spiš Castle. There is not another building between me and the castle – and at night it’s lit up and I can sit in this garden with a bottle of wine (or even in my room and look out the window) and see it lit up at night.
Couldn’t do that on a day trip, could you!?
I had a quick wander through the village when I arrived to check it out, and buy groceries. Yes, there isn’t a hell of a lot – and it does look the most stereotypically “Eastern Europe” of anywhere I’ve been yet…
But that’s an awesome experience in itself!
Tomorrow, I can sleep in before cooking breakfast. I can spend as long as I like checking out the castle (it’s a 45 min hike up a hill to even get to it). I can spend the rest of the day either relaxing, working on my blog, or exploring other things in town. There isn’t much, but there are medieval sites, old churches, a synagogue complex and other things – there is a big map on the wall where I’m staying.
There are hikes I could go on, there are nearby villages I can check out.
And even if I do decide that I don’t like the place, I’ve only booked 2 nights! That’s one whole day for the castle and then I can get an early bus the next day. Although, I’m already considering extending by a day or 2 so I can go on a hike.
When I go somewhere, I stay at least 2 nights.
Even if “There is nothing to do”… How else do you get to know it? Plus, I have a lot of work to do and can spend a day in my room working if I wanted. I prefer to travel slowly, see places properly and not rush through.
Another example is when I was moving to the UK from Australia, and was planning a 2 month trip when I first arrived, around parts of Europe I hadn’t seen before. When a relative asked where my first stop was – Bosnia.
“Uh, Bosnia? Why? What’s in Bosnia?”
It’s all about the tone. This could almost be somebody who is actually interested, but that’s not the impression I got.
You know what my answer was?
“I don’t know. I haven’t been yet – ask me when I get back.”
Now, I knew that Bosnia had a war when I was a kid. I remember Bosnian refugees being at my primary school. That’s all I knew about it really. How exciting! Most of the places people go to, they know a lot about. They know the culture (at least in theory), and they know the main sites.
And, it turns out that Bosnia was incredible. It’s one of my favourite countries that I’ve visited!
How often do you get to go to a place and have no expectations? That’s what I aim for when I travel. No expectations – be blown away! If you go somewhere, expecting it to be amazing. Expecting the romantic city that you’ve seen in films… You’re likely to be disappointed.
Anyway, this was meant to be a short rant, and is nearly 2 pages. So, to cut a long story (or a long rant) short…
Question: “Why would you go there?”
Answer: “Because I haven’t been yet.”