For the first half of this year, I actually didn’t have any big trips planned. That’s a tricky spot to be in as a travel blogger, especially as someone who prefers to write about a place I’ve actually been. Now that I do have a trip coming together for fall, I’m putting together an itinerary that will hopefully be filled with places I’ve never seen before. It got me thinking about where I’ve been in the past, and my favorites.
First let’s call our attention to the big cities:
The Big Ones are places most people have seen at least in movies and magazines. If you’ve been a reader of The Voyageer for a while, you’ll know that Paris is my favorite city in the world. I could go on and on about my favorite things to do in Paris, oh wait, I did.
The other big cities I visited on my last Eurotrip were London and Madrid, which couldn’t be more different from each other. Not only was the weather a total contrast, but the whole vibe of each city was very different. London had all the stuffy trappings of a global financial hub: people clad in black and gray pea coats rushing from place to place. Madrid was also a city in motion, but in a more pleasant, friendly manner. The food and weather were better, and everything was cheaper. (I can’t believe I haven’t written about Madrid yet!)
Other Big Ones I’ve visited but haven’t blogged about include Brussels, Rome, and Chicago.
As for North America, how about the big three: New York, Los Angeles, and Mexico City. Surprised that I’m lumping CDMX (as they call it) in with NYC and LA? Well, with a population of 22 million, it ranks in between the two largest U.S. cities. In fact, I liked my winter vacation there much more than the time I’ve spent among the rat race in my home country’s metropolises.
I’ve been to New York twice, once when it was bitter cold and once when it was swampy hot. I loved seeing Spamalot on Broadway but otherwise NYC’s not really on my list of places to return. I have been to L.A. countless times since I grew up in Southern California (Temecula). But, it’s too big to see everything in a short period of time and most of my trips there have been quite stressful. Disneyland, on the other hand…. 🙂 Another favorite place in the world.
Favorite big city: Paris, followed by Mexico City.
Second, let’s visit a few postcard-perfect small towns:
Traveling to big cities is very convenient because that’s where the planes land, and where the public transit is. Perhaps your job will even send you to one for a conference. However, it’s the picture-perfect regions where I’ve been (I’m looking at you, Loire Valley) that truly offered me the opportunity to relax, unwind, and try on a new country, to see how it feels.
I frequently think back to last October in Guanajuato and San Miguel de Allende. These medium and small sized cities offered a contrast to Mexico City and made me eager to spend more time in beautiful Mexican small towns. In 2012 my family stayed for a few days in Bruges (Belgium) which was really lovely. We rented a three-story townhouse and stopped at the local market for food to make at “home.” We also took a beautiful canal boat ride through the city, which was a highlight.
Another enchanting small town was surfer heaven, Essaouira in Morocco. The only place I’ve gotten my purse slashed (!!!) and the only music festival I’ve visited outside of the U.S. —this town holds a special place in my heart. Speaking of Morocco, I couldn’t decide whether to put Rabat in the big cities or small cities category. It’s the capitol of the country but most people don’t know about it, so I’m mentioning it here. It’s not the most picture perfect Moroccan city but I lived there for a summer in college so I definitely needed to call it out somewhere. 😉
Favorite small city: Bruges, followed by Essaouira.
Last, how about getting to know America:
Every country has small towns and medium sized cities that truly capture the daily life of the people. The United States is an expansive and diverse country, and someone who only visits the biggest cities will miss out on quirks and details.
Some of the United States’ cities that are begging you to explore them are Phoenix and Prescott, Arizona; San Diego, California; Saint Louis and Kansas City, Missouri. Don’t forget Las Vegas, Nevada; Albuquerque and Santa Fe, New Mexico; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and Portland, Oregon. Every state has a number of hot spots worth checking out; I just haven’t made it to them yet!
In the comments, pitch me your favorite place on earth and I’ll pencil it onto my ever growing list of places to visit.
All photos by Staci Jackson for The Voyageer.