Travel Disappointment: New Year’s Eve in Time Square

I try really hard to find the good in every place that I visit. Still, there are some place I’ve been, and experiences I’ve had which were just plain disappointing. The weekend in Prague where it never stopped raining, Saint Patrick’s day in Dublin (which involved absolutely no Irish people) and pretty much anytime I’ve ever spent in Baltimore for starters.

My most disappointing travel experience though was one that crops up on a lot of people’s bucket lists: New Year’s Eve in Times Square.

I’d wanted to participate ever since my grandmother told me she went as a twenty-something back in the 1930’s. I loved the idea of ringing in a new year in such a historic setting with thousands of other revilers. So I convinced my then boyfriend that we needed to ring in 2006 in just that fashion.

Here is what you have to look forward to if you choose to spend New Year’s Eve in Times Square

  • You will have to start queuing up for a spot at about 2pm, forcing you to be on your feet for 10-12 hours.
  • Even then you will still find yourself a good 8 blocks away from actual Times Square. The sparkly dropping ball, which is surprisingly small to begin with, will be a barely visible white dot on the horizon.
  • It will be really, ridiculously, painfully cold. The bright side of that is you will no longer be able to feel your aching feet.
  • You will feel this bone shaking cold despite being packed cheek to cheek with other disgruntled strangers.
  • You are not allowed to bring in alcohol. This will be a blessing in disguise actually, as there is nowhere you could even think about peeing.
  • The New Year’s countdown will last all of 10 seconds. The euphoria of the new year will be nothing matched to the euphoria you will feel at the fact that you can now go home. Of course it will take you another hour to pick your way out of the crowd and walk back to your overpriced hotel.

Can you see the New Year Ball here?

Needless to say it was NOT my favorite New Years. Still, 2006 would be the year I broke up with that boyfriend, found my independent self, studied abroad in England and discovered my love of travel.  So it wasn’t a total write off. Nonetheless I will be perfectly pleased never ever to repeat that touristic nightmare.

I spend a lot of time here talking about all the beautiful highlights of the world. While that is obviously important, for a change I’d like to talk about all of the experiences totally worth skipping.

So I want to know…

What has been your biggest travel disappointment?

This could be a place you visited that wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, an event that fizzled or any travel experience that proved to be a letdown. Anytime that a place has dashed your hopes and hurt your soul.

Leave a comment or send your answers to Steph(@)whywaittoseetheworld.com and I will feature the best ones in a post next week!

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118 thoughts on “Travel Disappointment: New Year’s Eve in Time Square”

  1. My biggest disappointment was Los Angeles/Hollywood. There is no glamour – no nothing. Just a dirty city and an endless stream of homeless. The worst is the ‘walk of fame’. The street is just full of homeless, some of them even sleeping ON the stars. The worst place I ever visited.

    1. I lived in Los Angeles for half a decade. One of those years I lived in a neighborhood adjacent to Hollywood so I’d be in and out of Hollywood frequently for various reason (catching the red line, going to home depot, ect). I used to roll around laughing when I’d overhear a tourist complaining about all the homeless in Hollywood or that there isn’t as much glamour as they expected. They’re absolutely correct. No actor or actress would hang out there. Hollywood is a dump. I love, love, LOVE, Los Angeles, but you’ve got to decide why you’re going and pick the appropriate neighborhood. Is it for beautiful beaches? Go to Malibu. Is it for glamour and shopping? Head out to Beverly Hills. Is it for wacky fun along the beach? Get out to Venice. Hiking? Griffith Park or Runyon Canyon Asian food? Head out to the San Gabriel Valley and so on …

  2. My biggest travel disappointment is Osaka. This city is full of fun actually with lots of good food and fantastic activities. However, at that time, I travelled in a group, with some people and we didn’t have a good plan. I wanted to make a plan, or at least places for visiting but the others just didn’t want. we just booked a flight and went together. we spent a lot of money on transportation which should be saved if we had prepared well. Everyone seemed very sleepy on the move. So heart – breaking.

  3. Honestly – Probably the full-moon party and Koh Phangan in Thailand.. We had such high expectations, but it was just a bunch of shit-face kids all acting like idiots. 🙁

  4. My biggest travel disappointment was when I’ve visited Macedonia for a first time. It was a very bad weather in the Skopje. I waited a full year for this trip to Macedonia -> Albania and I had very good weather in my country. So, once I did my first step on Skopje street I was disappointed very much, so the first thing which I did it was to go into the nearest bar to drink 🙂

  5. As far as a I can remember it was last year when I traveled a local beach here in my country. My disappointment is that when we arrived at that beach the weather changed from sunny to a rainy. This started at 11 am till 3 pm so we never had fun in the sun but out in the rain.

  6. I have never had any disappointment when in travel so far. But I guess I was once challenged by a sudden budget short when I lost my purse (with my money and credit cards in it) when I went to Baguio City here in the Philippines. Such was a terrible experience. Thank God for wire transfer, my husband sent me money for my bus ride back home 😉

  7. I’m going to Vancouver for a see in 3 weeks and not glad to hear it was a disappointment for some. But perhaps I may enjoy it due to now lowered expectations!

    I didn’t like Paris the first time I visited. Boston, Montreal & Quebec City was not that interesting for me either.

    Enjoyment of a place depends a lot on one’s mood and expectations at the time.

  8. Marmaris, Turkey was a let down for me. Also the whole of Vietnam. People talk it up but honestly the people were rude and always trying to rip a westerner off. Couldn’t wait to leave the country!!

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