I read this article in which the author emphasized the disappointing aspects of world-famous tourist sites:http://archive.is/bQtlN
To summarize her main points: The Egyptian pyramids are too close to the city; The Mona Lisa is behind glass and guard rails, and the Leaning Tower of Pisa is too small. Those arguments seem to be nitpicking, but it got me thinking about destinations, and how we approach them with certain expectations. People rarely travel without knowing exactly where they're going, what it looks like, and how prior visitors have reviewed the experience. All of that can be a set-up for an underwhelming day if the site falls short in one area or another. Of course there can also be places which are so incredible that they meet, and even exceed, expectations.
I would say the Grand Canyon stands out as exceeding anything I had imagined. That was undoubtedly due to the immense scale, which cannot really be translated via pictures. Plus, it was outdoors and I was able to move around freely, so it wasn't like there was a single spot where I had to stand and "look at" the canyon.
On the other side of the equation, I found The Statue of Liberty disappointing. My experience was mostly waiting in lines, and climbing stairs as part of a crowd-neither of which I enjoy. As far as seeing the statue itself, you get a much better view of that from the ferry.
Has Ernst travelled and found the destination disappointing compared to what you had expected? Or, have you been somewhere which was even better than you anticipated?