Among all the cities I’ve traveled to, Paris is the one I would call home. Living there for five months I instantly felt a strong connection to the city and its lifestyle. Paris has an ever-lasting power to stun anyone, especially since it’s always changing. Despite this, the city still finds a way to stick to its roots and maintain that original French feel. But among all the things I learned while living here, much like the French people, I think the city is misunderstood. Paris, if given the time to truly explore what it has to offer, is truly a resolution to a mystery.
Perhaps one of the most underrated cities. Copenhagen is astounding in every sense of the word. Whether you’re visiting old canals, art museums, the Black Diamond library, or just riding your bike through the city, you will be amazed at what is around you. A city built on careful thought and progress. Danes, though not the ones to initiate a conversation, will be glad to talk once you start the dialogue. For a country that has an underlying motto about not standing out too much or being above anyone else, Copenhagen definitely has a right to. This city will hit you with wonder before you catch your first breath.
Washington D.C: Diverse
Washington D.C., being the United State’s capital, has huge European influences, heavily noticeable in its architecture and urban design. The layout for the National Mall was surprisingly based off of the design for the gardens of Versailles. Every step you take feels powerful because of the amount of history surrounding you. Whether you’re braving the cold in January or having a picnic in August, D.C. is very diverse and worth visiting. The Natural Science Museum, National Air and Space Museum (both of them – hint), the Holocaust Museum, and pretty much anything on the National Mall should not be missed when touring the city -particularly the National Gallery of Art. D.C also has a rich and growing food scene worth checking out. Among many things, D.C. is very diverse.
Milan / Lake Como: Contradictory & Colorful
A big city that could have a small town feel if you wanted it to. Besides the amazing gelato and the splendor of Monte Napoleone, Milan has very contrasting characteristics. I often found myself people-watching at metro stations and I was stunned at the amount of individuality the people carried in their actions and style. This city is very contradictory, but in the best sense of the word. Then there is Lake Como – one of those places where you can’t believe you’re alive. Every corner is a piece of art and there is inspiration in every alleyway. Walking around the lake will make you believe you’re in a beautiful painting. Just trust me on that one. The colors and sense of comfort they provide will light up your day.
New York City: Surreal
You’ll also never sleep because of the millions of opportunities and activities to do. From searching for the best NY pizza and cheesecake, to shopping sprees, to bike rides in Central Park, there’s never a boring moment. Walking through the city is surreal because every moment feels cinematic, particularly along the Brooklyn Bridge Park. The grandiosity of the cityscape never fails to amaze me along with the unique characteristics of everyone living here. It’s another world of its own. And no matter how unique the city and people are, they all exist in the pursuit of something greater, and that’s what ties this city together. I never get tired of visiting and photographing my second favorite city in the world – New York, New York.
Stockholm is a city where you get what you see and in the best ways possible. From incredible brunches, unique celebrations, pastel-colored buildings, and neutral colored clothing, everything about this city feels real. And despite contributing to the world in significant ways (invention of the zipper, Spotify, Skype, Uber, H&M etc.), Swedes aren’t one to brag. Stockholm is a hidden treasure that people tend to forget about and undermine in their European adventures. Sweden, along with being one of the happiest countries to live in, has a relatively simple but great cuisine based off of cinnamon buns, open-faced sandwiches, fish, and of course, bread. When you have a chance, stop and enjoy a nice fika, lunch, and the company of some kind humans.
Puerto Rico: Progress
This U.S. territory has a lot to offer. Old San Juan is filled with colonial influences, bright colored buildings, fortresses, and great places to grab a mojito. And of course, while you’re near the east coast, you can’t miss out on El Yunque, the national rainforest. If you’re looking to see another side of the island, the west coast is a great place to visit, offering an amazing drive along the way. With several beaches for relaxing and caves to explore, it won’t let you down. Through traveling here I did see that Puerto Rico was struggling though. But it is trying to move forward. There are concrete examples of how the past and the future are colliding on the island. Puerto Rico, above all, is progressing.
The capital of Spain. Sunny, bright, and multifaceted. Madrid came as a giant surprise to me almost as much as Copenhagen. Much like most cities, you have no idea what to expect from Madrid until you actually get there. The city definitely reflects the lively Spanish culture with a diverse array of bars, restaurants, parks, and palaces. When walking down the streets I noticed most of the buildings were very different in color, style, and architecture, but somehow all blended together. And much like the buildings, the Spanish people themselves dress in their own styles with a wide range of bright colors. If you’re looking for a fun city that also has beautiful places to relax (like the famous Parque del Retiro or Puerta del Sol), then Madrid is your place. It is very eclectic and will keep you on your toes.
Munich / Ulm: Quaint
Munich, though relatively large in scale, did not feel like a big city. If you’re shopping around the main center and “downtown” area then sure it will seem busier. However, if you take a walk in the Englischer Garten (one of the world’s largest inner city parks) or have a break at one of the many beer gardens, it will seem more like a familiar town, which is very surprising considering Oktoberfest (the world’s largest Volksfest) is held here. Still, Munich has an incredible ability to please city lovers and country-goers alike. Then there is Ulm. Situated in the south of Germany, it’s a city most people wouldn’t think to visit. Simply put, Ulm is incredible, especially if you’re trying to get a realistic German vibe. Not only does it have an amazing “fisherman’s quarter,” but it also has the world’s largest Church steeple and is the birthplace of Albert Einstein. Once you climb the steeple to the top you have an amazing view of the landscape and Europe’s second largest river, the Danube, which flows through the city. Ulm proves a point that anywhere you go has something special to it.