How movies and television (almost) ruined my experience of traveling to American cities

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In my life, I've traveled to two American cities on different occasions: New York and San Francisco. When I got there, a funny thing happened - it was nothing like I expected. Actually, it was a total buzzkill! I was filled with great expectations, but the cities displayed themselves in the plainest way possible. I can't believe how ridiculously common everything looked! When you travel to exotic places like Asia or Africa, you're in for a bit of a culture shock, and that's already fascinating enough. But cities in the United States, well, they're not that different from European cities, we're part of the same civilization anyways. Just cities like any other.

I blame Hollywood! Movies and television (even photographs on blogs and in magazines) have always been trying to present something in an idealistic, almost unreal way. Showing things that aren't there, hiding things that are, highlighting a specific point. And since a lot of films and shows are happening in New York and San Francisco, I was being fed with this idealistic image of great places with amazing detectives ever since I was a child. But these things aren't for real, for me, the experience was totally different than I imagined. What will happen if I manage to go to Miami one day? Will it feel like a tourist resort somewhere in Europe and not like a totally cool place, the way I think of it now?

Probably not. As it turns out in the case of New York and San Francisco, these cities do have something very special to offer. The churches may not be as old as in Europe, and the streets may not be as crooked, but it's the cosmopolitan vibe and fantastic atmosphere that makes them what they are. A few days after you get to know your way, you start to feel it. It's everywhere around you. You slowly go along, and you find yourself thinking: well, this actually wouldn't be such a bad place to live for a while. And you start to enjoy it, meet a few people, go to a few parties, start to love it, everything's great, but then your trip ends and you're back home. Sitting in your living room, watching a movie or a show happening there and all you can think is: man, New York and San Francisco are even more awesome than on TV.

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written 13.3.2012 6:08 CET on chronolog
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