Travel Truths 02 – 10 best places of the known universe

09_Monako, Monako T

I am sure everybody has “bumped in”, metaphorically speaking, in any travel article presenting the “The [X] best [Y] in [Z]”. I know for many Mathematics is not their piece of cake, but let us just say that

X is a number usually in the area of 10-100

Y is a name like city/bar/hotel/beach/restaurant… up to toothpicks / mousetraps

Z is a name of a city/county/World

A typical example the above … mathematical form may take is “The 10 best hotels in Europe”, “The 40 best beaches in the world”, “The 100 best museums in Europe”!

…But let us take some time and ask ourselves.How true such statements and articles are?

For starters…(by analysing the statement “The 10 best restaurants in the UK”)

Has the writer been to those restaurants? In order to have a single opinion for any 10 restaurants the writer must have visited either extensively all of the UK (a piece of cake – Not!) or at least to a level (e.g. the big cities) that would put him into a position to at least mumble a single word for any (and those) 10 restaurants – which would mean that he probably omitted visiting a great pub in the countryside offering delicious local food.

Even if he did visit a small portion of all restaurants he must have visited them at least two or three times to have an objective opinion about the menu… and the service…and the prices….and the cooking.

What is more if he did try them more than twice, did he taste the same portion of the menu? Any of the answers is not good enough because either “the same menu” means he missed tasting those … lovely burritos and the mouth-watering tiramisu or “different menu” means he did not compare the same menu over at least two times.

Another question to ask is how he managed to take this exquisite photo with the full moon on the background. Was it a coincidence?

Then, what is the period of time over which he completed his research? If this “research” was executed over 6 months, then by the time their article is published this research would be outdated!  If this research was executed over one month, it means that he travelled extensively over that month for the sole purpose of trying menus on different restaurants. Fair enough with this…

But then the easy question arising from this is …how much money did he spent over that month? 30 days and with a maximum of 10 restaurants per days is 300 restaurants and with at least 50 Euros per dinner/lunch he must have spent 15000 Euros – just for trying menus. If you include travelling costs in one month we are talking something like 20.000 Euros. Is one travel article on the 10 best restaurants in the UK worth 20.000 Euros?

04_Barcelona, Spain.jpg

Then there are some more subtle questions!  What are the criteria for selecting a restaurant as “THE BEST”. Is it the service, the food, the lights, the atmosphere, the prices, the furniture? The more we stuck up criteria then more subjective this “research” becomes!

And then … could you compare with the same criteria a down to earth Indian restaurant in Manchester with a French fusion-cuisine restaurant in central London?

… and is the writer a true culinary expert or just an average tourist (mind you I would prefer the latter).

… and YES.. If I am an average traveller I do not want to spend 150 Euros on a 5 course menu!

The truth of the matter is that the goal of such articles is purely to catch the attention of the reader with their fancy title and great photos. They have little to add in a … true and legitimate contest of the best … restaurants and they have nothing to add apart from just presenting simple suggestions. Their title could easily be “10 nice restaurants to have lunch in” and to be frank this would be a much more honest title.

What is more such articles are probably reproduced numerous times and it is questionable (or difficult to find) by whom they have been written at first place and, most importantly, who actually provided the information.

So, next time you bump into one such article make sure you pay the exact attention that is required – not more not less. Scrutinise all those articles. Check by whom they have been written, who provided the data and read between the lines to see if what is written could reflect reality. An article based on Tripadvisor ranking most probably reflects a reality. Articles with no name underneath, should be judged… respectively.

So next time you bump into one such article, do pay some more attention!

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