Saturday, August 17, 2013

My Top Five International Cities

A friend recently posted his favorites cities on this planet and naturally ranked my hometown (that'd be NYC) number one. As an avid traveller, it got me thinking what my favorite international cities are. With apologies to some Italian cities (mainly Florence), here it is:

1. Hong Kong, China: I didn't always had a fondness for my birthplace, but recent trips to the former British colony I discovered a lot more of what this incredible city had to offer. For starters, it is never boring and never not busy. While some must state a case why that's a reason to avoid a metropolis like Hong Kong, it's only more of a reason to go. Also, the food. Oh, the food. Key site: Tung Choi Street, it is as chaotic of an experience as you think shopping with thousands of people on a 10 blocks worth of cheap street vendors would be.

2. Madrid, Spain: Perhaps it's the only European city I can see myself living in, but the Spanish capital has long been a favorite of mine since the first time I visited. From Prado to Parc de Retiro, Plaza de Sol (where a political protest is bound to happen every week) to the Parliament, the accessibility of Madrid is one of those city where you can walk a few blocks and experience something amazing. I just heavily suggest you avoid the bullfighting at Las Ventas. I couldn't stomach it. Key site: Roam off the side streets on Calle de Carretas between Plaza de Sol and Plaza Jacinto Benavente for that tapas/sangria experience you want to brag about later.

3. Nice, France: Yes, Nice is indeed nice. The few times I've been to Nice, I keep repeating that cliche saying "This is so nice." every so often. This "beach" town is nowhere as glitzy as its close neighbor Cannes, but it definitely has its share of luxury activities without the heavy price tag. If it's even possible, the city is even more beautiful during rainfall. A stroll down shopping central Avenue Jean Medecin along side the overhead lights and occasional marble ground during the rain makes you not care that you're drenched. Key site: Cour Saleya. Daytime for the antiques, night time for the outdoor restaurants.

4. Melbourne, Australia: Once you get used to the idea that you're in the southern hemisphere (unless you live there), you'll come to appreciate the relax and friendly vibe you get from everyone. It's without a doubt the friendliest group of strangers I've ever encountered overseas, and I'm saying that without my favoritism towards Aussies. Key site: Beach or tennis.... St. Kilda or Rod Laver... oh heck, I'm going with the latter for the "happy slam".

5. Tokyo, Japan: The closest way I can describe my experience in Tokyo is 'Lost In Translation' without the movie star treatment. It's one of the few cities I've been to that doesn't even attempt to cater to non-Japanese speaking people and I respect the city for it. You really do get the sense you're not home anymore but on some adventure.... if that adventure just so happens to include walking around Imperial temple in Shinjuku Park, deciphering directions to Tokyo Dome or trancing out on lights in Shibuya. Key site: Golden Gai. Literally a hundred bars fill 6 tiny street allies. How so? Each bar is approximately the size of a king-size bed. It's like you slide open the door and you're already face-to-face with the bartender.

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