A large city is not the number one place on my favorites list of travel destinations but there are some cities that have been fun to explore because of their history or their beauty or their people or all three. Here is a list of the top ten favorite places I've visited.
Sydney, Australia. If you peruse my blog it won't take long to know that Australia is one of our favorite places to visit and if we must be in a big city, Sydney is a great place to be. It's a pretty city with it's harbor area being the jewel. Easy to get around and the iconic opera house and bridge are must sees. Lots of great restaurants with every kind of ethnic food imaginable and plenty of entertainment venues as well.
Paris, France. We've visited Paris several times and always find it the romantic city it is advertised to be. Lots of history, art, shopping, eating. Parks and places to stroll arm in arm. And it definitely lives up to its nickname, the city of lights.
London, England. London was the first place that we ever ventured to out of the country (Canada not included). It's where we got infected with the travel bug. We've been back several times and always find it a delight. Easy to navigate the "tube" and find yourself in a variety of neighborhoods from the formal areas surrounding the palace to the eclectic theater district around Piccadilly Circle and the exciting area across from the Parliament buildings and Big Ben. Fun, food and fabulous people watching.
Cape Town, South Africa. While we didn't get to explore a great deal of Capetown since we were on a cruise, we did get a good taste of it and it was enough to make us want to go back. It is set on the coast of South Africa with a spectacular backdrop of mountains, the most famous, the Tabletop Mountain that actually looks like it has a tablecloth covering it when the clouds sit on top of it and spill over.
New York, New York. Frank Sinatra sang of this city for good reason. It is quite a place. We've been there for the Macy Thanksgiving Parade and again for the tree lighting at Rockefeller Plaza and several times in between. It's fun to take in a Broadway show and stroll Times Square now that its been cleaned up. A tour of the harbor and a peek at the Statue of Liberty is a must and of course a trip to the 9/11 memorial. We need to go back and take in the museum that opened a little while ago. And don't forget to stop into a neighborhood deli and grab one of those great sandwiches!
Tokyo, Japan. We have been to Tokyo twice and now that our son and his family are living there we will return again. Tokyo is a little like London in that there are different areas to explore and each has something unique to offer. While I wouldn't want to eat anything but Japanese food there (there are so many varieties), there are lots of other ethnic restaurants available as well because it is such an international city. The history extends back so far that it boggles the mind but walking through the temples you get a sense of ancient tradition that has carried on through the years. Contrasted with the amazing technology of today that is exhibited as well, it is quite an interesting city to explore.
Barcelona, Spain. Again a city with lots of history and one huge cathedral that has been years in the building and is not done yet. Bob always jokes that we're not going back until they finish the la Segrada Familia. The hop-on hop-off bus is a fun way to see the city but be sure to spend time walking the main street, Las Ramblas, and seeing the performers there and enjoying some tapas. Oh, and don't miss the churros with hot chocolate!
Venice, Italy. When we first arrived in Venice it was raining and it looked dirty and dull and I wondered why we were there. Then the sun came out and the buildings came alive. The architecture surrounding St. Mark's Square is amazing. History abounds and romance ignites with a gondola ride and or a stroll through the little piazzas that surround the main part of the city. Enjoy a cappuccino on the square but be sure to order enough that you don't get charged a cover fee if you are sitting in one of the little outdoor cafes that has musicians playing.
Cleveland, Ohio. Cleveland? Yes. There will be lots of people discovering Cleveland as a destination in about 11 months as they descend on the area for the Republican National Convention. There is much to see if time allows. We have quite a history as well. Wonderful architectural examples of years past. A beautiful lake front by the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame. Museums. A fantastic ballpark. Aquarium. Lots of restaurants with many ethnic choices and new modern cuisine. And a premium theater district, Playhouse Square, that is the second largest complex in the country.
So that's it for now. While I favor little towns and open country, there are some amazing things the big cities have to offer so to be a well rounded traveler put a little of both into your itinerary.