My favourite kind of travelling is city dwelling, or, to be a “flâneur”; someone who wanders around the streets in order to get a feel of the city and its people. For me, it is time much more better spent than spending all day, every day on a beach. That doesn’t relax me, it makes me bored and restless. Travelling is about tasting the culture, the history and the life of the place you visit. Even if it does make your feet ache.
Here is a list of cities I have visited before, that I feel are worthwhile for anyone to visit. Some are obvious choices, some are questionable ones. And whilst I picked these out for various reasons, there are so many more I haven’t listed (and one day perhaps will), or I am yet to visit and fall in love with. The world is a big place…
The birthplace of the term “flâneur”. I find this city unbelievably beautiful. The architecture is lavish and breath taking, and the idyllic Parisian lifestyle of croissants and coffee is fun to re-enact (except I don’t like croissants. Or coffee). Yes, the locals are known for being rude, but the landmarks are so well-known, from the Eiffel Tower to Montmartre, I believe they are worth it. Plus, Victor Hugo is one of my all-time favourite writers and so seeing his inspirations and even his resting place allows for literature fan-girling on my behalf (not to mention the countless other Parisian icons).
Another obvious choice. I do prefer other Italian cities such as Florence, which is also a must see, but the rich history of Rome is what made me add it to the list. The Colosseum, the Roman Forums, Castel Sant’Angelo, and endless other places to see are not just for history geeks, but for anyone. And whether you are religious or not, there are so many beautiful churches to visit. You just have to walk down a street and you will find a little but no less stunning church open to visit. And I haven’t even mentioned the food…
Las Vegas, USA
There are so many historically beautiful cities in the world, but why not visit one famous for being, well, fake. I have visited Las Vegas, or more importantly The Strip, a few times as a child (so no gambling or weddings for me, at least it’s child friendly), and I remember it being constantly entertaining. The many, many unique hotels are all worth exploring, and each offer their own forms of attractions from roller-coasters to lions to volcanoes. It’s crazy and tacky and I love it.
New York, USA
When I went to NY by the end of it I was exhausted from all the walking among the vast crowds. Still, it is an amazing city and I really want to go again (I’m thinking Christmas time, and that it will hopefully snow). Manhattan is very swanky, but I stayed in Brooklyn which is equally cool. It is one of those cities that no place, or street is the same. And one of my favourite things about NY? On top of the Empire State Building, the pigeons actually pose for your camera.
The last of the USA bunch in the list, but possibly my favourite. After the hectic visit to NY, I then went to Chicago and found it much more relaxing (then again I did spend most of it at the Lollapalooza festival). I felt Chicago had a better vibe, AND it is home to the Blues Brothers, a film that I love. I also saw an amazing firework display by the pier, experienced stepping off the edge of the Willis Tower (it was a glass balcony), and it is the starting point of Route 66 which is an adventure I have done, and hope to do again. I don’t own an “I ❤ NY” t-shirt, but I do own an “I ❤ Chicago” one.
For a taste of Brazil, I would highly recommend this city. It feels more tourist friendly than others, which is good as Brazil does not speak English widely and despite the World Cup it seems tourists are still a novelty. Florianopolis has over 40 beaches, some of them the most beautiful, AND it has sand dunes, which you can rent a board to go sliding down. You become covered in sand but it is so much fun. I am more used to sledging in the snow (even that I haven’t done much), so it was amazing to do it under the warm sun and in the soft sand, which is much nicer to land head first in.
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
I visited Amsterdam recently and I left completely in love with it. The people are some of the friendliest locals I have ever met, the museums are fascinating and I stayed on a boat, which was awesome albeit cramped. It is a forward thinking city, and history proves it always has been: its two top tourist attractions of sex and drugs being just two examples. It is a very attractive city with its canals, unusually tall and narrow buildings and relaxed atmosphere (no marijuana pun intended).
Despite Kotor giving me the worst hangover I have ever endured, I adored being there and hope to return one day (with my dignity). It has a very historical looking centre, with beautiful orthodox churches, and lots of cats (they really like cats). The scenery is spectacular, as it is set against the backdrop of Montenegro’s beautiful mountains and is also by the coast. When I was there they also hosted a summer carnival, so it was one big party. It is a town rather than a city, but either way it is a place becoming more attractive to tourists, and worth visiting before it risks becoming too touristic.
The first thing I noticed in Segovia is that it has an aqueduct in the middle of the city centre. I thought this was an impressive sight: everyday life occurring around a huge, grand piece of history. It is another city of beautiful architecture, including the Gothic Segovia Cathedral and the Alcázar of Segovia. I have only recently begun to learn more of Spain, and to remember Segovia I think of the laid back approach to life Spain seems to possess (siestas and tapas? Yes please…).
Tirana is one of the most unusual cities I have ever visited. An ex-communist country, Tirana now has streets and squares named after the likes of George W. Bush and Mother Teresa. My father told me that years ago, when cars were common everywhere else Albania was still using horses. Nowadays everyone seems to own a Mercedes, old or new. Tirana is not a touristic city: there are no souvenir shops, a taxi I used did not have proper seating, and the traffic is terrifying. However I really enjoyed my visit: the mosques, the kids on the street trying to sell you plasters, and in comparison to places such as Paris or Rome its beauty is very unconventional. But it is beautiful nonetheless.
There we go. Just a tiny fraction of the world explored. It reminds me of how much I am yet to see, and there are so many more stories yet to be told or experienced. My feet are itching to step out into the world again.