The First Country I Didn’t Enjoy….

Categories Europe, Exploration, Life Tips, Lifestyle, Travel, Travel Blog, Travel Tips, Uncategorized49 Comments
The First Country I Didn't Enjoy

I always seem to pick more out of the way places to visit when I go on holidays. I like to see the unknown and explore somewhere that I know won’t be crammed wall to wall with tourists. This has led me to beautiful places like Montenegro and Tallinn but I have also visited and loved cities such as Lisbon and Rome which are huge tourist destinations.

Thankfully, over 20 countries into my travels I have never discovered somewhere I haven’t liked. Sure, I have been less than impressed with some things along the way here and there but that is always to be expected – until I went to Spain.

Benicassim Beach
Beach in Benicassim

I went to the town of Benicassim, roughly in the middle of Salou and Valencia for a festival this Summer. I have to give credit where it is due that the town saw an influx of over 100,000 people for this four day event which I’m sure added to their struggle – but that being said I have managed to have amazing experiences in various other town that have been able to cater to festivals when push came to shove.

Natural Pier

I always assumed Spain had amazing tapas, wonderful people, gorgeous beaches and sunny weather… at least we got the sunny weather! Every service that we received was poor at best. Our apartment, the bus service, taxis, grocery stores, restaurants, train stations, airports.. you name it! Literally every service that we got was below par for one reason or another. Something like this has never happened me before, and I really struggled to come to terms with how a country this popular could have such poor service across the board. Aside from this, the people in general were quite rude. I have been told that they are not a fan of the festival in the town which would explain their destain – but I can’t imagine the people of Stradbally act the same when Electric Picnic rolls around in Ireland every year? Now, this stay was for six days and five nights across both Benicassim and Salou so I think my group had more than enough time to encounter at least one good experience – and it never came.


I’m heading to Spain again this weekend to Barcelona where people have assured me will be a lot different to the Spain I have just experienced. I’m not sure if we got a bad run of luck, or if this is what every seaside town in Spain is like. I have never gone somewhere and really not enjoyed it so this was a real shock to me. I love to find the good in places & enjoy the little things that make somewhere beautiful but this time I really struggled. I’m hoping Barcelona can right all the wrongs in my head and show me what an amazing country Spain really is – I’m genuinely looking forward to it proving me wrong!

Have you ever gone somewhere and not enjoyed it? And if so, why?

49 thoughts on “The First Country I Didn’t Enjoy….

  1. I am the exact opposite; I loved Salou but didn’t take to Barcelona much…. though it does have it’s charm it was very murky and busy when I was there! Hopefully it’ll be much more enjoyable for you though!

    1. That is so interesting! I actually love how everyones opinions of places are so different.. really shows how subjective it all really is! I’m actually really looking forward to Barcelona and hoping it will change my opinion tenfold!

  2. I went to Barcelona for a week in March and it was by far my favorite traveling experience. Everybody we met was so nice and helpful! I hope you have the same experience I did!

  3. Brussels was a place I did not enjoy while visiting on a trip. First impression does put a damper on your trip and make you think negatively. But, I think it’s also unfair to base a bad experience of one place out of the country and think that the whole country is like that. So, I do have a desire to go back to Belgium again, visiting other cities, which I’m certain I will enjoy.

    The first time we visited Barcelona, we loved it. Then we went back to live for 3 months, our recent sojourn. And we loved it even more. The people were so friendly and we “lived” like locals, interacting with them. We genuinely enjoyed the culture and the vibe. This is totally different than our experience in France. When we visited Paris the first time, we loved it. When we returned to live there and other places in France, we didn’t like it. We were so put off from our sojourn that we didn’t want to return. Now that some years have passed, we’re willing to visit other places we didn’t visit, but no living there again, though. Unfortunately, visiting on a trip doesn’t really and always tell the true story of how a place is really like. It’s when you live there is when you’ll truly know if you like the place, culture and people.

    I hope you enjoy Barcelona! I highly recommend visiting Palau de Musica for a guitar and dance (flamenco) performance. The experience is wonderful and the theater is just lovely.

    1. Yeah I definitely don’t think you should write anywhere off from one bad experience. I’m actually really happy I already had Barcelona booked so I could get to experience the country again in a different setting.

      Honestly I’m jealous more than anything else that you have gotten the opportunity to live in so many different places! And it’s so interesting to hear that you liked Barcelona but weren’t gone on Paris. I have heard that the French can be a little colder at times so I’m not surprised that this is how you felt – but in saying that I am yet to experience there myself!

      Thank you for the tip! I love getting to see places that are a little bit more authentic than the usual places. One of my friends wants to visit Nou Camp and I am dreading it!

      1. No problem. Gracia is a calmer neighborhood to visit in Barcelona as well. We lived there while in Barcelona and really enjoyed it there. Oh, Nou Camp! You’ll have to share your experience. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to visit. Next time…

        Btw, we’re planning a return to Ireland next year, this time staying for 3 months, so I’m really looking forward to exploring the country some more! I’ll have to dig up some of your old posts on places to visit. Your previous post on Howth was so enticing!

  4. Also, I have to mention that the touristy section of Barcelona was my least favorite. It doesn’t show the true Barcelona, but it does have its beauty there as well.

      1. My first visit was off-season, so the touristy section wasn’t too bad, but during our longer stay, we did notice how bad the touristy section can get, which is too crowded for our liking. I can see how someone can get put off by it.

  5. I am sorry you didn’t enjoy Spain. I have lived in Mijas Pueblo twice and am heading back there for the winter. I have always found the people to be very warm and the services to be superior. I hope Barcelona is better for you. If not, please visit the Mediterranean Costa del Sol.

    1. I’m actually really sorry I didn’t too. I’m usually so open minded about visiting places but even people in the shop got annoyed with me for being ahead of them since I was a tourist (presuming this was the reason!) so I used to have to let them go ahead of me. That being said I can’t wait to see Barcelona and experience everything it has to offer.. I’m nearly certain I will love it!

  6. Well, if you arrive in Barcelona saying that you wanna know Spain… they might be rude to you too, since many are proud Catalonians, whom (if I’m not mistaken) will soon vote again to be an independent territory 🙂
    Sorry to hear you had a bad experience, I hope you get a chance to come back there and have a better one!

  7. I suspect your experience in one town can’t reasonably apply to the whole country of Spain. Perhaps this could work in a tiny, homogenous nation, but definitely not in a place with such disparate regions.

    I’m headed to Barcelona in the winter. That will be my first time there. From my reading, I already expect it to be radically different from Madrid, where I spent a total of about six weeks in a few trips back in the early aughts.

    I found Madrid to be an elegant and cosmopolitan city. Service was generally good, especially when paid for at high end establishments. It wasn’t as unilaterally efficient as, say, Switzerland or Germany, but compared well to other world cities. I thought, even then, that it would be a fun city to visit with children.

    1. I definitely don’t think that all of Spain would necessarily be this way – but it is technically the first country I visited that I didn’t enjoy. I’m just back from Barcelona and while there were a few similarities, overall it was definitely a lot more enjoyable!

  8. I found your post very deliberating I must say! I feel like we are supposed to be always so thrilled about our trips and places we visit that when this doesn’t happen for any reason we feel awkward. And if you don’t have so much fun or even like a place, you feel like you shouldn’t tell to people, I don’t know why. So, I was very happy to read it, not that you didn’t have a great time of course, but because you had the courage to write about it! 🙂
    I had some experiences myself of bad times to beautiful places, like Santorini, Greece. Very provocative to say it, I know, but that’s true, Santorini is not for me, despite its amazing beauty!
    I think this is really unpleasant especially if you have high expectations for the trip and you wait for it all year, but maybe that’s good eventually. To really appreciate the good times and have the places you loved shinning in your memory!
    And of course, sharing your experiences with other people!
    I hope you’ll like Barcelona, I’ve been there for 2 days and I liked it a lot!

    1. Thank you! To be honest it was a real curve ball for me to not enjoy somewhere because I am a sucker for fallen in love with place instantly! I went to Barcelona this weekend and had a much better experience though which is great 🙂

  9. Perhaps the locals have an unfavourable attitude to the festival and unfortunately convey that to those visiting, some of whom (like yourself) may be first-time visitors to Spain. I’ve seen a fair amount of southern Spain (both coastal and inland towns), and never experienced poor service across the board like you did. Hopefully your experience of Spain picks up in Barcelona 🙂 San Francisco was somewhere which just didn’t quite hit the mark for me, though I suspect it was mostly due to friends who had visited slightly overhyping it for me.

    1. Yeah and I think because a lot of people go to Spain and I see it painted in such a great light it made my bad experience that little bit more frustrating. I am just back from Barcelona though and I did really like the city 🙂 it can be very frustrating when you don’t see the same thing everyone else sees when they visit somewhere!

      1. Glad to hear that Barcelona lived up to expectations! I had similar feelings about Paris when I was there in October, and felt the city wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. I returned in May though, and felt differently – I think my change of heart stemmed from straying from the most congested areas of the city on my second trip 🙂

  10. Yes!! Me too! And it was Spain 🇪🇸 also. I’m still trying to figure out why most of the gang that I was with thought it was amazing. It just didn’t do anything for me- service and food were ok but nothing special. It was all a little strange.

    1. Really? That is so interesting! There were six of us on the trip and we all felt the same leaving so at least I didn’t feel crazy about not loving it too much! But it is crazy how different people can have such different experiences of the same place.

  11. We always try to hit places off-season. Summer is the time for backpacking and disappearing into the wilderness. It’s amazing how fast numbers drop off after you get a few miles from the trailhead. 🙂 As for Barcelona, we really enjoyed it. –Curt

    1. I usually always travel before Summer or around September and find the crowds are always a lot more manageable. Going off the beaten track is also always beautiful because you got a much more ‘real’ experience! Thanks for commenting 🙂

  12. Barcelona was fantastic when I went! Beautiful clean city with a beach and lots of friendly Spanish people wanting to help you and speak English when needed. It is expensive however and make sure you use the under ground to save walking too much it’s really easy and not busy! 😀

  13. I didn’t care much for Spain either. I think it depends on if your character is in tune with the national or local flavour. For me, Asia hits the spot. Europe and USA…less so!

  14. Always interesting to read when someone actually didn’t enjoy their travel destination. I think it does sound like the time to go that place wasn’t the best. I’ve only been to Madrid for a couple days to visit a local friend, and liked it but haven’t explored much of Spain. I do think your experience in Barcelona will be much better.

    1. Yeah it wasn’t an ideal time to experience Benicassim, but we did actually travel there to go to the festival so we didn’t have much of a choice but to go when we did! I did have a much different experience in Barcelona and would like to give Spain another shot again to see what it is like!

  15. I usually like these posts but I found this one rather childish. Poor customer service during a festival weekend makes  all of Spain bad?  Spain is too large and diverse to judge on such a small experience. I’d recommend visiting outside of a mass event and areas that are culturally and linguistaically different from what most people think of for touring such as Galicia or Basque Country. These places also have excellent cuisine – tapas has more to do with the style of sharing or eating the food  than the quailty, not to say they can be delicious. Hopefully you can experience Spain again and enjoy it.

    1. Thanks for the comment. By stating it is the first country I didn’t enjoy I literally meant the first country I had visited that wasn’t my taste – I didn’t mean for it to sound like I was painting the whole country with the same brush. I’m just back from Barcelona and while I didn’t fall in love with it either, we definitely had a better experience overall!

  16. I think a lot of it is about first impressions — so choosing which city in a larger country could be very important. For me the perfect example is France. Paris is a place I detest in every way, but when I discovered the south and west of the country I embraced the country. Now I find ways to getting there without getting anywhere near Paris!

    1. Definitely! After being there it made me apprehensive to go back but I had my trip for Barcelona booked already for last weekend. I’m delighted I did because it showed me that while the service still wasn’t similar to what I am used to in Ireland, it definitely was a better experience overall 🙂

  17. We felt this way about albufera in the Algarve in Portugal, but loved Lisbon and Sintra. I’ve been to Barcelona multiple times and it’s fabulous, however the beach there is NOT fabulous, its disgusting. Head to nearby Stiges instead if you’re looking for a beach!

    1. Lisbon and Sintra were AMAZING I thought! Two absolutely stunning places – and I actually had to convince my boyfriend for about a year before he would go to Portugal because of not enjoying the Algarve when he was younger!

  18. I am sorry to read this. I am from Spain and I can promise that is one of the worst parts of the country. That kind of festivals ruin the essence and create a hostile feeling with the locals. Barcelona, Madrid or Salamanca should make you fall in love. Do your research before going to Barcelona as just letting yourself flow will push you towards the undesirable touristic areas. Let us know how it goes 🙂

  19. Spain is an odd place! It’s very much a home away from home for us Brits! I’ve been to Spain many times over the years, including Salou which I wasn’t blown away by, I liked Barcelona but I LOVED Madrid and would definitely recommend there if you want a slightly different trip.

  20. Super late reply, but me too. I was planning to live in Barcelona for 6 months, but I was staying in the tourist centre. It drove me batty, especially coming from a tiny country town in the middle of nowhere, so I moved over to York which was a calmer pace for me.
    I’m hoping I enjoy Barcelona more on my second visit, because that first stay did my head in! And note to self – get away from the tourist spots!

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