If this wasn’t a travel blog, then London would easily top the list (even if not everyone loves it like I do). But it is, so here are my favourites from the rest of the world…
It’s certainly not the most beautiful city on this list, nor does it have as long a history as others (although it’s certainly packed more than its fair share in over the years). But I adore the place, and for a long time thought I’d end up living there for a second time. I still might. The three years I lived there really turned me on to travel, and each time I go back i discover a bit more to love. It’s a constant theme for me that the people are one of the most important things for me in terms of how much I like a place – and I love the Berliners.
2. New York
Berlin may be my favourite but New York is the most exciting. Every time I go I feel the same surge of adrenaline that I got when I first moved to London. Everywhere you go you feel like you’re starring in your own movie.
It may be crumbling and a little shabby in places, it may be covered in graffiti, but it’s still stunning. Its location, tumbling down hills towards the River Tagus and the ocean, is perfect, and the buildings look beautiful covered in Azulejos. And the Barrio Alto is my favourite place in Europe to have a drink – the atmosphere as everyone fills the narrow cobbled streets outside the bars is incredible.
Somehow it feels less overrun by tourists than Barcelona (which I also love), and I’m not sure why, as it’s got just as much to offer. The Prado & Reina Sofia are two of my favourite museums in the world.
“You come from London? Very big, and very busy, yes?” said my taxi driver last time I arrived in Bangkok. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that Bangkok beats London hands down on both counts. That was the first thing that hit me when I first visited – it almost overpowered me with the scale and sheer energy of the place. I can’t wait to spend more time there next year, as it’s likely to be my last stop on my trip.
I’ve written a fair amount about Istanbul recently. I’d recommend it to anyone.
Not the most obvious choice – many of the travellers in Laos found it dull, and just used it as a necessary stop on the way to or from Thailand, or further south in Laos. Which is one of the things I liked most about it – it must be a contender for the most laidback capital city in the world, everything seems to move at a very slow pace (if it moves at all), and it doesn’t have the UNESCO World Heritage status or as many crumbling colonial buildings as the much more popular Luang Prabang. All of these are part of its charm – it’s lack of tourist appeal keeps it feeling more Lao than most of the other big tourist spots, where it feels like the whole economy revolves around tourism (which it almost certainly does). If I was going to be a diplomat, I can see a posting to Vientiane being just the sort of one I’d like.
There are two things that would make London almost perfect: better weather, and a beach. Sydney has them both, and the city has a great quality of life. Although after spending a while there, I don’t think I could live there – it feels a bit small after London!
I was only there for 36 hours on the way home from Sydney, but it was everything I’d hoped for. I’m a bit of a modern architecture junkie, so I was in heaven. Add in the insane pop culture, some sightseeing, great sushi and a little shopping, and it was the perfect day and a half.
What did we do before Eurostar? My most memorable trip was taking advantage of their £42 nightclubber fare (travel after 4pm, return before 1030am the next day) to have a night of dinner and then dancing. Best of all was the chance to wander down the Champs Elysees down to the Louvre at 5am, with only a couple of early morning joggers for company – having such a stunning place to yourself is truly incredible (and you have the train journey home for a much-needed sleep!)
And the biggest disappointment? Milan. The Duomo was covered in scaffolding, the weather was rubbish, the hotel terrible, and the locals unfriendly.