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Most overrated tourist attractions and countries in the world: Travel writer Kendall Hill’s list

On the Maltese island of Gozo there’s a megalithic temple complex that’s older than the Egyptian pyramids. Older than Stonehenge. Older than pretty much any structure erected by humankind except for a bunch of stone pillars in Anatolia.

Naturally I was eager to see them. I travelled to Malta specifically to visit the Ggantija temples, figuring they were so momentously ancient they must be a sight to behold. Let me tell you, they were not.

I went to Gozo, which lies north of the main island, with a guide who did his best to explain the significance of the site.

He told me the “temples” had been built by a giantess (“ggantija”) who lived only on honey and beans, and that they were used as a place of worship to some long-forgotten fertility goddess.

But all I could see in front of me was rubble and perhaps the outline of a sacrificial altar. (In fairness, recent pictures suggest the temples have been substantially reconstructed but when I went they were honestly just piles of stones.)




Megalithic temples

Malta’s Ggantija temples – ancient wonder or pile of rocks?

Fortunately, Malta itself was utterly charming. I especially liked the grisly tale of Ahmad the Left-Handed using knight’s heads as cannonballs and shooting them across the harbour during the Great Siege of the 16th century.

The Ggantija episode is probably the most underwhelming experience I’ve had but it serves as a useful reminder that, when we travel, great expectations don’t always guarantee a great time.

At the risk of sounding like the uncoolest person on the planet, I didn’t warm to Berlin. I desperately wanted to. I’d read so much about the decadence of the Weimar era (1918-33) and the modern city’s famously liberal outlook that I expected to find myself swept up in a bohemian festival of hedonism.

Let me tell you, I was not.

It was midsummer, and temperatures struggled to rise above 10C. I found the city bleak, the graffiti ugly, the food bland and the people uninteresting. That sounds harsh but I think the combination of the weather and the fact I barely understand a word of German left me feeling isolated in a very foreign place. Perhaps, like Melbourne, it’s a city where it helps to have insider contacts who can reveal its secrets and charms.

Germany generally left me cold, again probably because of the language barrier. But I’ve been several times since and am gradually warming to the place, like a slow-burning romance.

Vanuatu is littered with islands of which many are active volcanos.

Vanuatu didn’t turn out to be paradise for this traveller.

Vanuatu was another disappointment. I realise many people see it as a Pacific paradise but I do not. For starters, it never stopped raining. Torrentially.

And then I had my wallet and my crappy old phone stolen in separate incidents on the same day. Which meant I had to rely on the kindness of the woman managing my beachfront accommodation (from which the phone was stolen) to make all my emergency phone calls. With not a cent or a credit card to my name, I felt totally adrift.

The police were called. They promised to come and investigate but, after waiting an hour or two for them to show, they called to say they’d been diverted to a knife fight between two women. Which I had to admit sounded infinitely more exciting than a broke Aussie tourist expecting them to miraculously locate and return his stolen goods.

I was meant to spend another five days exploring the islands, hiking a volcano, getting to know the real Vanuatu. But I couldn’t imagine surviving there without money or a way to communicate. I just wanted to go home. So I did. After two days.

Of course there have been other disappointments along the way. It comes with the territory. My wallet was nicked in Nevers, a scrappy French town on the Loire River that I had the misfortune to visit on a self-drive canal cruise. Nevers again!

And if I don’t ever make it back to Resolute, in the Canadian High Arctic – surely the most depressing human settlement ever conceived (even the residents hated living there) – I won’t shed any tears.

Liberty Island overlooking Manhattan Skyline

A travel writer who’s never been to New York City? Cue shock.

But I’m hoping New York City lives up to the hype. I still haven’t been, a fact of trivia I like to drop into conversation to see how people react. Most are surprised, some are horrified. I’m sure they think I can’t be very good at my job if I’ve never managed to get to “the world’s greatest city”.

As a result, I have such huge expectations of New York but I’m in no rush to get there. As an older, very worldly friend once reassured me, “I always envy people who haven’t been to New York because they’ve still got it to look forward to”.

Hopefully, if I ever do manage to get there, I won’t be disappointed.

Follow Kendall Hill on Instagram @misterkendallhill




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#MeToo campaigner Katherine Kendall says Sun newspaper made up quotes to defame Johnny Depp

Actress and MeToo campaigner Katherine Kendall says Britain’s Sun newspaper had deliberately misused her quotes in an article which labelled Hollywood star Johnny Depp a “wife beater”.

Depp, 57, is suing the publisher of that newspaper for libel over the article, saying he had never struck his ex-wife Amber Heard, and it was Heard that hit him during their volatile relationship.

The paper argues its story is true and its lawyers have told London’s High Court that Heard accuses her ex-husband of attacking her on at least 14 occasions between 2013 and 2016 when he was enraged after drinking or taking drugs.

Kendall was quoted in the Sun’s original article as saying: “I don’t stand behind hitting people or abusing people. It seems that Amber got hurt.”

Camera IconAmber Heard, actress and former wife of Johnny Depp, arrives at the High Court in London. Credit: Frank Augstein/AP

But Kendall said in a written statement to the court she had been misquoted by the tabloid.

She said she had texted the Sun reporter after the article was printed and told her: “It seems that the whole article was about defaming him.”

The Sun article had mentioned Kendall’s advocacy for the MeToo movement against sexual harassment and assault, and her accusations that disgraced movie producer Harvey Weinstein sexually harassed her.

“Although it was true that I was a victim of Harvey Weinstein, the rest was a lie,” she said in her witness statement.

“I was not ’going public’, on behalf of MeToo or myself, to criticise JK Rowling’s decision to cast Mr Depp, nor did I accuse Mr Depp of hurting Amber Heard, about which I have no first-hand knowledge.”

This handout photo provided by London High Court shows a photo used in evidence of Amber Heard with marks on her face that she says were inflicted by Johnny Depp.
Camera IconThis handout photo provided by London High Court shows a photo used in evidence of Amber Heard with marks on her face that she says were inflicted by Johnny Depp. Credit: AP

Kendall, who appeared by videolink from Los Angeles, was not questioned about her statement.

She was the last witness called as part of Depp’s case which has spanned nine days.

Heard is due to start giving evidence on Monday when the paper begins its defence.

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