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Saturday 22 June 2013

Five places I never want to see again

The world is full of magical places. Whether you love food and wine, arts and culture or action-packed adventure holidays there is somewhere that will delight and thrill.

Most of the places I visit I thoroughly enjoy. But there are a handful that left me vowing never to return. Here are five cities I would quite happily never visit again.

Rio de Janeiro
The host city for the 2014 World Cup final and 2016 Olympic Games is a poverty-stricken dump full of dodgy characters where you need to have eyes in the back of your head at all times. Plus they are rioting in the streets right now. I had my jeans stolen from underneath my towel on Copacabana Beach after I sat up to show my watch to someone who had asked me the time. I had street kids spray liquid on my shoes so they could "clean" them for me. The massive shanty towns, or favelas (see below right), are right above some of the most acclaimed beaches - and the residents need money to survive, so scams/crimes are frequent. Well worth avoiding. 

Tel Aviv
I'm immediately wary of any race who consider themselves to be God's chosen people - as do the Israelis, who extend their superiority theories to their everyday behaviour. They love pushing and shoving. Stand in a bus queue in Tel Aviv and it will disintegrate into a mad brawling scrum the moment the bus arrives. And Tel Aviv's international hotels follow kosher rules, which means that if you enjoy a burger and a milkshake you are out of luck - unless you want to consume them separately. Imagine the Irish insisting you must eat fish because it is Friday. If you enjoy visiting cities where the people are bolshie and there are machine-gun toting military everywhere then Tel Aviv will be right up your street.

As stated previously on this blog, Naples is surrounded by many various attractions but is best avoided unless you are in the company of a local. It's a dirty, scruffy place with bag snatching one of the most famous local sports. Pickpockets abound - there are signs on all public transport warning against them - and when it gets dark some very shady characters come out to play. Would you shop at the store I snapped below just a couple of months ago? The Neapolitans love to dump their garbage in the streets and the city is home to the Camorra, a Mafia-style secret crime society. With so many other fantastic destinations in Italy, why would you bother? 

One of the heartland cities of the Afrikaners during the apartheid era in South Africa, Bloemfontein is a dull city that appears to be full of thick-necked, prop forwards with close-cropped hairstyles and aggressive attitudes. Flat and bordering on the semi-arid Karoo, Bloemfontein is quite simply not a holiday destination - unless your idea of a holiday is boerewors, pap, beer and rugby. And even then you can do better.

I know the Austrian capital is one of the world's great cultural cities, famous for its music as well its superb coffee houses and cakes. It's beautiful, too - but I simply don't like the people that much. I once asked a well-dressed local business man the time in faltering German - and was shouted at for my poor language skills. The Viennese tend to be stern, aloof and unsmiling (in my experience) and don't have a sense of humour about their history. Much as I'd love to love Vienna I just can't.

No doubt many of you will love these cities, and call me a racist, or a bigot or someone trotting out stereotypes. I'm just calling it as I see it. Feel free to disagree - or offer your own selections. 

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