One of the great things about Germany (and a lot of Europe for that matter) is how easy it is to walk around, with most smaller cities have a central little square. I spent two months in Germany as an au-pair, and from where I lived it was about a ten minute walk from a grocery store, the post office, a church, a toy store, and a bank. The school was another five minutes walk. I would love if more cities in the US were set up like this. Not only was it quick, it was safe. Something rarely, if ever, found in my home country.
N. Ireland is the only place I have ever been to which looks exactly like how it is portrayed in movies and on postcards. My favorite aspect of the Emerald Island is, well, the emerald. This is a country that rivals my home state of Washington for greenest and wettest place. No matter the time of year, there is green everywhere. A thousand different shades of green (which I’m pretty sure is the title of an Irish song) exist in Ireland. Dark leafy trees, lightly colored rolling hills, thick brownish green moss, thick tangled emerald bushes.
The food, hands down. I love Japanese food (strange though some of it may be). Okonomiyaki, takoyaki, sushi, tempura, udon, pocky, the list goes on. What’s also amazing about Tokyo (which is indeed the only place in Japan I’ve gotten to visit) is that if you get rice or noodles and don’t worry about meat or having American cuisine, you can actually find super reasonable priced meals. Some of the noodle bowls my mother and I shared were huge! I also love the pastries in Japan. Most Japanese don’t have ovens in their homes, so they rely entirely on going out to bakeries and cafes to get their baked good fix. And they sure do deliver, I’ve had some super yummy pastries in Tokyo
My best experiences in France were outside of Paris. As incredible as Paris is, it has a culture and a sort of snobbery that’s separate from the rest of France. Going only to Paris is like only visiting NYC or LA (though Paris is a thousand times prettier than either of these cities). Visiting other parts of France opens a whole new world of gorgeous coasts, fields of lavender, rivers running through mountains, and beautiful cities. There is so much more to France than the Louvre and Versailles, and I encourage everyone who goes to branch out from the city of lights.
My post is really going to only refer to Barcelona, as it’s the only other part of Spain I’ve seen besides a part of the Pyrenees. My favorite part of Barcelona was the architecture. Barcelona is home to a great number of pieces by the renowned architect Gaudi. His cathedral Sagrada Familia is incredible, and still unfinished, due to the enormous amount of detail and unique shapes Gaudi wished to put in. If you think you’ve seen all there is to see of churches, think again. And some of his other pieces around Barcelona are gorgeous as well.
As with Spain, my time in Columbia was limited to one city, so it’s from my experience there that I will be speaking from. We were in Medellin, visiting a woman who once lived with my family for a full year as an exchange student. Medellin is know as a garden city, and for good reason. One of the most attractive features are all the gardens and parks and trees. This makes it a gorgeous city to walk in. It has some beautiful botanical gardens and some really lovely little spots.
Statia is a place that doesn’t have a lot to offer. Only 11.8 square miles in area, it is a tiny and dry place, as the local mountain the Quill stopped all the rain from reaching the rest of the island. Most of the locals work for the oil company that’s slowly but surely devouring the entire island, and it’s two groceries stores are definitely nothing to write home about. One thing it does have however is gorgeous beaches, and incredibly blue water. I loved laying out on the sand, going snorkeling, and watching incredible sunsets. I was always amazed to not see more people at the beach, I guess the locals just take it for granted.
I spent half my time in Italy in Rome, and the other half in an isolated little condo by the ocean. Let me say right away that my favorite place was not the ocean. Rome however was incredible and fascinating. The best part of Rome was all the historical buildings and ruins. Honestly, I think if someone who’s spent time in Rome lists something besides the historical places as their favorite thing, they picked the wrong city to visit. Walking around Rome is like wandering around living history. And I loved being able to recognize things after reading Angels and Demons by Dan Brown.
As a former fan of Sherlock, a lover of Doctor Who (although not when I visited), and a forever addict of Harry Potter, London has a place for my heart. I adored being able to see places I had seen in movies, visiting the Sherlock Holmes museum, going to Kings Cross station, seeing famous characters and people in Madam Tussaud’s, seeing Sweeney Todd in the London Dungeons. In short, I just loved how nerdy I got to be in London.
We were only in Switzerland for four or five days, and most of that was Zurich, so again not a huge area was explored. If I had to pick one thing that isn’t related to snow, I would say the way the cities there are designed. Gorgeous little back streets, shining street lamps, often along water. The cities that we visited were beautiful and easy to walk around.
If anyone ever tries to tell me that all Muslims are terrorists, that Jews are the only ones who have the right to Israel, or any such thing, and I will tell them to spend a few days with the friends we stayed with in Nazareth. The kind of hospitality that we received from everyone we visited with in Israel was incredible. In each home we went to, we were offered coffee, then snacks, then sweets, and if you stay long enough,they’ll start making you a meal. And we never felt as though it was just perfunctory, required. we always felt like family, being shown photo albums, chatted to, made sure we were comfortable. ( The history in Israel is a close second to the hospitality for me, incredible)
Similarly to N.Ireland, Scotland’s charm and wonder lies in its landscape, which is multi-faceted and gorgeous. The landscape is more rugged here than most of Ireland, giving it a wilder and untamed feeling. It’s no wonder they chose to set Brave here (and a pity Merida didn’t travel to more parts of Scotland) Scotland stirs the imagination, with rain, wind, ocean beaten rocks. Forget about shopping in Edinburgh or Glasgow, head to the moors.