While contemplating which countries were our favorite, it felt natural to highlight some of our favorite cities as well. There are some cities that I absolutely adore even though the rest of the country was either just so-so or we just didn’t get a chance to explore it more.
As before, these are not necessarily in order of preference.
This has been my most favorite city for years now. I first visited almost a decade ago. It immediately stole my heart, and it has retained that grip. There’s just something special about Paris. There is a vibe, an energy that is just . . . well, Paris. I’ve been to cities with better food, better transportation, etc., but nothing has replaced Paris for me yet.
To add to my love of the city, this is where I decided I was ready to adopt a child which was, as you can imagine, an incredibly life-altering decision. I will always have that emotional connection to the City of Light.
This was an unexpected surprise for me. I had always wanted to visit Prague, but I never expected I would fall head over heels in love with it! It would be really tough for me to decide between this and Paris as my top favorite. It’s almost a tie, although I think Paris might win by a microscopic margin, but there is that emotional connection so it isn’t a totally fair competition.
This city absolutely delighted me with great food, beautiful architecture, an outstanding amount of history, a fairly open-minded culture, tons of culture, and a great transportation system. The fact that Prague is also quite inexpensive doesn’t hurt either.
This tiny Caribbean island will always hold a special plate in my heart. Not only did I become a divemaster and instructor here, but it was a place of personal transformation for me, especially as a parent. This is where I learned to be a better parent, and it was a place that allowed Tigger to have an incredible amount of independence at age 10 than he probably could have anywhere else in the world.
Being an instructor here was like being part of the UN. I had students from all over the world and from all walks of life. I had so much fun getting to know so many people, and I made so many international friends. We stayed in someone’s apartment for free while in London because of a connection I made on this island. Likewise, we got to know the parents of one of my students from Australia while we were there. They opened their homes and their arms to us, and it was an amazing connection. We had a friend in Austria to hang out with because of our time on Utila.
The Utilians are some of the most interesting people I’ve met. They’ll readily welcome you as one of their own, and for the most part they respect you even though you’re a visitor to their island home. Respect them back, and you have some of the best friends you could ever hope for. They watch out for each other, and they’ll watch out for you if you’ve earned their friendship.
It’s also the only place I’ve been that celebrates independence day with a public boxing match in the most trafficked area of the island. Anyone can challenge anyone else to duke it out over grievances from the past year.
It’s the first place I’ve lived that has no addresses. Everything is done by landmarks. The question of where you live is easily answered by “Next door to Hank.” And they know exactly where you’re talking about.
You can also get beer delivered to your home, hostel, or dive shop. And if you love pirates, you’ll enjoying communing with Utilians. They sound just like them.
Kuala Lumpur (KL)
I absolutely love this city. There is plenty to do, there is so much good food, it’s extremely livable, and there is so much culture. I also love that it’s a transportation hub and so close to so many interesting places to visit. The year-round steam bath temps are the only thing keeping me from living there right now. When Tigger is out on his own, though, you may very well find me living here again.
I know many people don’t care for KL, but it felt wonderful the first day I stepped foot in the city, and I’ve never stopped liking it. It’s one place I definitely miss.
My lovely little Brasov. I never expected to fall in love with this town, but it happened moments after arriving. I love how much life there is in the historic square. Whenever we left to explore other cities, we would both be so happy to see “our mountain” upon our return.
It’s hard to put a finger on just what exactly was so wonderful about Brasov, but I absolutely adored life here. It’s my favorite town in Romania, and I have enormously fond memories of our life there. I loved almost everything about her.
I can’t quite say it’s one of my favorite cities, but I have to say I really liked it. It has such a great blend of old and modern structures. It’s incredible how I can find almost every cuisine I love there, and most of the time I can have it delivered to me!
It’s a fun city that has a lot of quirkiness and plenty of surprises in each neighborhood you visit. For being a large city, it also has a really good vibe. I can see why Londoners enjoy living there, even if the prices are absolutely bonkers.
And for being such a large city, I have to say its inhabitants are for the most part quite polite and helpful. I’m sure residents get asked for assistance tons of times from us tourists, but every person we asked for help was absolutely great to us. The only really rude people I encountered were on the plane going there.
I also enjoyed the vibrant cultural diversity that is present in this city. I know that London isn’t as welcoming to these immigrants as it likes to pretend to be, but the blend is quite enjoyable. I love a place where I’m surrounded by foreign languages, and London certainly has a large collection of that!
Tigger’s favorite cities
Surprisingly, Tigger’s list matched up pretty well with mine.
He loved the food here. It’s hard to not like a place that has fruit that makes you moan when you bite into it, a sausage cart in the main square, and a restaurant that serves you free pork to welcome you. This has actually been the only place where I’ve been able to get him to regularly try new foods. Everything is so flavorful he was game for almost anything.
He loved the ocean here. It’s also where he became a scuba diver. And where I traumatized him by going naked on my 100th dive. Hey, it’s tradition! Tigger loves the water, and this island was a perfect place for him to live. He could jump into the ocean from any dock, see tons of creatures, go kayaking with friends, go fishing (something I don’t enjoy doing) with buddies, and give people heart attacks while scaling the outside of 3-story buildings.
Tigger was Mr. Popular on the island. Everyone knew him. In fact, I was known as “Tigger’s dad” instead of by my name for most of the time we were there. It was a place where he had full run of the island, and he really grew with that level of unbelievable independence.
Tigger loved the food. He was not as impressed with the buildings as I was, and we were there in the middle of winter, but I think the crepes won him over. When the frozen food store has gourmet items, you know you’re set.
He felt really happy here. He wasn’t that impressed with the London Eye, but otherwise he really enjoyed London. I’m quite sure the wonderful bacon botty and incredible bagel with salted beef didn’t hurt either.
This city just felt like home to him. Although, toward the end of 2 months there the grumpy old ladies did start to get to him. He also had a 14-year-old American expat friend who liked video games to keep things interesting.
What are your favorite cities to visit?