Lonely Planet Writer

Unloved cities that rock

cat_rednewportWe recently asked our Facebook fans which cities they thought had an undeservingly bad reputation. The results are in and there's a diverse bunch of unloved destinations out there that you felt travellers were unecessarily wary or critical of.

Brian Herbert felt that "just about every city in Africa" offered pleasant surprises, "from Nairobi to Accra to Abidjan." Shazim Zainudin thought Burma was unfairly shunned. He says, "the sunset at the Rangoon river, plus the hospitality of their people could give you travel nirvana."

Don Haslam cast his vote for Glasgow: "I heard it was dirty, dangerous and boring. Quite the contary. I loved it and found a spiritual connection to the place. It may be because my grandmother was born on Sauchiehall Street."

And Diane Haller gave an emphatic thumbs up for... Kansas City! "I didn't expect ANYTHING!" she writes. "I was especially impressed with the Power and Light District, Country Club Plaza, Hallmark, Performing Arts Center, Union Station (Warhol Exibit) and most of all the National WWI memorial and museum."

There were some popular overall choices. Mumbai, Johannesburg, Marseilles, Detroit, Paris, Washington D.C. and Manila garnered three votes each. Kiev, Nairobi, Bangkok, New York, Caracas, Venezuela and Calcutta won four votes apiece.

ericthefish_LiverpoolAthens and Liverpool tied equal second with five votes each. Craig Gibbons summed up Liverpool's winning charm: "Great nightlife, fantastic galleries and museums, beautiful architecture, fantastic people always up for a good time, and you just gotta love their accent." Meanwhile, Athens scored points for being 'smog free' and "a brilliantly complicated and mutli-layered city."

But the winningest, most unloved yet awesome town (according to our Facebooking travellers) is Mexico City.

Says Michael Gardner: "It still has a bad rap as being a polluted city, even though they've drastically improved the situation over the past 10 years. Not only have they improved things, but the nice parks and city development actually made it a pleasant place to visit. The city has so much to do in and around it, I could easily spend a few weeks there and not get bored." Many of you agreed, arguing that this surreal metropolis is full of amazing things to see and do.esparta_mexico_city

Maybe it all comes down to attitude. Traveller Shannon Wells suggests that, "while there are some truly dirty and truly dangerous cities, a real traveler can find something interesting and good nearly anywhere".

Have you visited somewhere and been pleasantly surprised that the rumours weren't true?

[Images/Flickr: Mexico City graffiti by rednewport, Liverpool: Below But Not Under by Eric The Fish, Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City by Esparta]