23 countries, probably close to 100 cities traveled to date – what were my favourite 5, what were my least favourite 5? Where did I really enjoy my time and which were frankly a disappointment? Which city did I keep in my heart, where do I hope not to take roots? Off we travel.
MY 5 FAVOURITE CITIES ❤️
‘The most multiculturally diverse city on the planet’, as LonelyPlanet calls it. In this city, I could feel the world coming together. With its numerous neighbourhoods – Chinatown, Greektown, Little Italy, Little Malta, Portugal Village,… – all cultures mix and unite here. Unlike in Vancouver (see below), I had the feeling that Toronto depicts Canada‘s understanding of friendliness, tolerance and love towards others. I was always greeted with open arms, by my host family, people on the subway, the market vendors. My heart felt a little like home in Toronto. The big metropolis is diverse, down-to-earth, funky, extra, all in all just different.
Syd has a special place in my heart. There, in 2016, I had a personal change which deeply influenced me. The Jennifer-Lee that came was not the same Jennifer-Lee that left Australia. With its iconic cityscapes, it interested me. With its multicultural and intellectual inhabitants, its diversity, its openness and progress, it amazed me. Sydney is such an electrifying city. It grabs your attention with the extraordinary location, the rough coastline, the water sports, the authenticity, the bars and restaurants. It still leaves me speechless, 3 years after my travel.
The infinite city of Rome. Roma, il mio amore. I keep telling someone that Rome is a place he must visit because it would fulfil him. It is simply stunning how you are walking through these narrow streets and eating pizza on a doorstep and continue waking to suddenly standing in front of an enormous monument with street music in the back. It is not a city that feels ancient and stuck in time, but to me it has kept its magic and the antiquity has been transformed into a modern vibe. I am just very glad that all roads lead to the Italian capital, Rome.
Paris sera toujours Paris – Paris will always be Paris. It will always be the most romantic and passionate city in the world, with the Eiffel Tower (which is just a steel construction) lightning up the Seine in the evening, the Frenchmen shouting from one balcony to the other, proposals in front of every monument, noble art placed throughout the French capital. Paris will always be the cliché that fulfils one’s heart. It, or rather She, Paris, took me by storm and even has me moving there for a while soon… 🙂
The city in South Africa is not a city to me, but rather a decent town. It does not consist of mile-high skyscrapers, hectic roads, major shopping centres, billboards etc. It has a compact city centre where rush hour occurs every now and then, but the Waterfront at the harbour is a wonderful change to the city-like image and even traces of the colonial past can be found. Also, the endless nature which immediately shows itself in Cape Town is one of a kind. The rough mountains right at the ocean – at the tip of Africa – followed by vast green when moving into the country… Stunning. Cape Town is unique.
MY 5 LEAST FAVOURITE CITIES 💔
What shall I say. Vancouver is often on peoples’ top 5 list, since I think you will be surprised to see it as one of my “negative” cities – if there even are any negative cities in this tremendous world. Canada‘s city is perfect if you like doing outdoor sports e.g. going hiking a lot, running, hiking, skiing in winter, did I already say hiking? But apart from that, I found that Van does not have too much to offer. There you somehow depend on being in parks and just hanging around if you are not much of an outdoor freak. Also, the ethnic communities live side by side but not together as one. Everyone leads their own secluded live as the city does not give much of a feeling of national heritage or indium meaning. I always compared Van to a donut – there are so any people around, yet they do not come together in the middle and there is somewhat a hole in the community.
I have the feeling that many want to punch me for putting Italy’s art capital on this list. Firstly, I am sorry. Secondly, the art is amazing, do not get me wrong. I spent four hours in the Uffizi galleries and I am head over heels for arts. Florence culturally has many sights, but I had a lack of actual feelings there. Walking through the city felt like a cold exhibition of churches and expensive shops to please the tourists from overseas. In Rome, I was squirrelly with the vibrant atmosphere, in Florence I felt constricted in a superficial world. I could only see tourists everywhere I looked, locals either hid or sought other places to spend their time at. I guess Florence just did not throw out sparks at me.
California‘s rising star is my falling star. I have never been to a place in the world with so many artificial aspects. Hollywood lives after the mindset of “to see and to be seen”, Rodeo Drive is the embodiment of luxury, L.A. itself consists of a good deal of self-proclaimed Instagram influencers. Thus the ‘City of Angeles’ has a valid reason for being the home of many celebrities. I feel as if the only decent part of L.A. is Venice where everybody can live their own life and just relax by the beach and take in the vibe a surfers place has.
I frankly do not want to write another whole chapter about why I disliked Marrakech. I have written quite elaborately about the anger I still feel half a year later in a post on Faces of the Earth: The Snake. Nevertheless, I appreciate Morocco because of the interesting religious experience, the Moroccan’s openness and the women’s empowerment. I had a great time with many new experiences and also gained a different sight on a few topics, but the mentality really did go against the grain for me.
Germany‘s capital is a riddle to me. Sure, many different ethnicities live in Berlin, e.g. Berlin is the city with the most Turkish inhabitants outside of Turkey, it is known as “Small Istanbul”. Thus there is a diversity which is surely very interesting. But the capital tends to be quite dirty, in every manner. The streets are dirty, the drug addicts are one large family, hipsters call Berlin their home. Many actually like it for its raw dirty atmosphere. Also, due to WWII and the wall, the city is obviously a little scattered and does not have one centre with everything built around it. I got lost a dozen times there, I do not think that Berlin is a structured city.