For once you have tasted flight you will walk the Earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return.
Leonardo Da Vinci
Yes, Leonardo had this one down to a T as well. Travel is a full-blown addiction. It’s very difficult to ease the cravings once you’ve had your first taste of it. But what do we live for, if not to travel? Man was not born to live and die, rooted in one place, never to have seen, never to have smelled, never to have touched foreign lands. I could get poetic and never reach the end of this little intro. So I’ll just shake myself off the clouds I’m momentarily inhabiting and get to business. Following is one section of a 2 part Post (it was meant to be just one but, well, things got out of hand with my over enthusiastic descriptions) In each section, there will be two lists; my favourite European cities – which I’ve had the pleasure of visiting, and my little “To Visit” list (which I’ve kept to a humble 6 in total but which should span to around at least 20. Trying to keep it real here).
My top 3 Cities. Part 1 (from West to East)
1. Lisbon, Portugal
When I visited Lisbon, I remember being thankful that the city had not yet been turned into a commercial hub like other cities in Europe. The best way to describe Lisbon I suppose would be genuine. Authentic and real. If you wandered around side streets you could see people sitting on their front door step, sporting hair curlers and engaged in animated talk with their neighbours. Their doors were open, inviting glimpses of a humble life. Children walked on their own, running errands for the family. Everything felt homely even the food that was served. The place is of unimaginable charm, the people friendly, the scenery amazing and the prices not too high. Definitely worth a visit.
2. Edinburgh, Scotland
For some reason, when I think back on Edinburgh, I always remember it being a place oozing literary charm. This was probably due to the fact that I ran into the coffee shop in which JK Rowling had started writing what can now be described a work of literary genius. Or it could be the grey stone facades and the city’s reluctance to relinquish its hold on the past. It’s hard to think of London as the setting for all those British novels. It was much easier in Edinburgh, with its castles and churches and quaint alleyways. Fond memories.
3. Nice, France & Monaco
Just the mention of these two locations have added glamour to the post already. Whoever thinks Paris is the soul of France have never been to the beautiful south. The beaches, the coast, the glitz and the everlasting allure of anything that is French. Nice, I was surprised to discover, seemed to have two faces – the beach, the touristic hub with its high rise buildings – and the old quarters, where steep and winding roads led to breathtaking views of both the coast and the harbour. Monaco is, well, Monaco. Ferraris, gilded casinos, manicured facades, yachts bigger than my neighbourhood. I felt ridiculously out of place in my bright pink flip-flops and denim jacket. Very un-Grace Kelly-like. But no regrets. Expensive but truly spectacular cities.
On to Part 1 of my “To Visit” City list (*insert groan of exasperation here*)
1. Seville, Spain
I have always had a fascination for Andalusia, the southern-most tip of Spain. The heavy Moroccan influence, coupled with Spain’s own indicative mark is something which has quipped my interest for some time. Fuelled by mentions of this region in “The Alchemist” by Paolo Coelho which got me researching the area, I’m up for a trip around Seville and the entire region more than ever. Espérame, Sevilla! I’ll get there. Sooner or later.
2. Lucerne (or Geneva, or Zurich, or Basel. Honestly – just Switzerland. All of it)
This is a sore point for me, reason being that my whole family visited this country, except for myself. Our hallways are littered with framed pictures of lakes and mountains, beautiful enough to have just existed in someone’s imagination. Therefore, I need to visit this country. I really can’t make it justice with mere words. The natural landscape is out of this world. Yes it’s pricey, one of the priciest in all Europe. But it’s worth digging deeper in your pockets for. And I’m sure there are cheaper alternatives should you wish to renounce a couple of luxuries. Yep, definitely on the list.
3. Florence, Italy
Think culture, fine arts, wine, cobbled roads and motorino rides, beautiful architecture and sunset views. Florence was the birthplace of the Renaissance and it has managed to conserve its memory – or so I’ve been told by friends who have visited. My shame lies in the fact that I’ve been to quite some places around Italy, but never to this gem of a city. Now I yearn to look upon the Ponte Vecchio myself, to sip some Tuscan red wine beneath its towering Basilica.
So little time. So many cities to visit. Looking forward to sharing Part 2, and to hear what made it on your lists. Safe Travels!