I got quite a few questions back in the States after my three-month backpacking trip through Europe. Number one question: “What was your favorite city?” What a loaded question, but a fun one. Based on that question, I decided to put together a list of superlatives for the cities I visited on my trip. Some are quirky, some are pretty serious, all play a big part in my travels. I’ll list the contenders and then we’ll start!
In the Running (grouped by country but not in any other particular order): London, Liverpool, Bristol, Devon (Somersault Music Festival), Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dublin, Gdansk, Gdynia (Open’er Music Festival), Poznan, Krakow, Warsaw, Vienna, Villach, Prague, Rome, Milan, Copenhagen, Berlin, Barcelona, Figueres, Madrid
Best Nightlife: 5. Dublin 4. Prague 3. Krakow 2. Warsaw 1. Berlin
Give it up for Eastern Europe! Krakow reminded me of a cheaper, less crowded Williamsburg. Warsaw had an amazing beach to party on (and Soplica. Lots of Soplica.) Berlin, however, had something for everyone. Sure, I was told to go to the craziest nightclubs for all the tourists. My lovely group of Couchsurfing friends, however, took me elsewhere (and I’m glad they did). Shout out to the music selection at the bars in Berlin….one played only Pearl Jam, the other spun Cat Stevens, The Pixies, and The Velvet Underground on vinyl.
Hippest Cities: 3. Poznan 2. Bristol 1. Berlin
What can I say, in both Bristol and Berlin I went on street art tours and found a lot of vegan restaurants. From my brief visit in Poznan, I got a chill vibe from all the students that lived in the area. Bristol had a very strong passion for supporting local business, which got me very excited to move to Austin all over again. And Berlin…I mean, it’s Berlin.
Cities Where I Fell in Love with Just About Everyone on the Street: 3. Vienna 2. London 1. Copenhagen
I have no specific reasoning for choosing Vienna…maybe I was feeling extra romantic that day. In London, the accent and nostalgia definitely got me. I felt like I was in middle school again, drooling over guys who reminded me of Alex Turner and Jamie T. Copenhagen? Everyone’s beautiful in Copenhagen. Tall, blonde, perfectly groomed…I’ll stop writing before it gets weird.
Happiest People: 3. Figueres 2. Madrid 1. Barcelona
There was something about Spain that felt so lovely. Happy families and happy couples were everywhere, and I don’t mean the kind of happy couples that you found PDA’ing in Prague. It made Spain was definitely great for people watching, especially in parks.
Best Performances: 3. Jeremy Loops (Somersault) 2. Major Lazer (Open’er) 1. Bombay Bicycle Club (Somersault)
Of course I had to add a little bit about the music I saw on my trip! The lineup at Open’er was the number one reason I voyaged to Poland, but the performances at Somersault did NOT disappoint. Maybe I’m a bit biased because I got to have a quick chat with Jeremy Loops and Motheo Moleko after their show, but if you have a chance to see them on their upcoming tour, you can judge for yourself.
Top Three Songs on Repeat: 3. The Libertines – “Can’t Stand Me Now” 2. Disclosure – “Bang That” 1. George Ezra – “Barcelona”
If I had a dollar for every time I sat someone down and forced them to listen to “Barcelona”, I’d probably be able to afford another trip. George Ezra didn’t play at Open’er like The Libertines and Disclosure, but he wrote a song about one of my most anticipated cities. His album Wanted On Voyage came from a trip through Europe that he went on for creative inspiration. Sound familiar?
Questions I Got the Most As An American: 3. “Donald Trump, seriously?” 2. “What is cheese whiz?” 1. “Do you own a gun?”
Apparently only Americans spray cheese out of a can, go figure. I really have nothing else to say here, because most of the time, my response to these questions was to just bow my head and swear silently to myself. Anyway….
Most Beautiful Cities: 5. Krakow 4. Edinburgh 3. Prague 2. Tie Between Madrid and Rome 1. Barcelona
The squares in Krakow (or any city in Poland, it was a close race between Krakow and Gdansk) were absolutely stunning. Edinburgh’s old buildings and Arthur’s Seat are still calling my name. If it were a contest on the most beautiful views…there’s no question, Prague wins every time. Rome’s churches…I have no words. I never missed a sunset in El Retiro (and honestly, spent most of my time reading and writing in all of Madrid’s parks). Barcelona’s architecture, however, made this city a no-brainer for number one. Gaudi! I was inspired by every detail on every building throughout Barcelona.
Friendliest People: 3. German 2. Latvian 1. British
Couchsurfing hosts, Angloville friends, hostel drinking buddies…you crazy kids. I miss my Brits, I can’t wait to visit soon and watch an episode or five of Take Me Out. I dearly love my Couchsurfing friends in Berlin and my Open’er buds from Riga, but the Brits take the cake. (One of Mary Berry’s finest cakes, at that.)
Best Museums: 3. Madrid 2. Berlin 1. Copenhagen
SO. MANY. MUSEUMS. As a huge fan of contemporary art, I have to give it up to these three cities. I spent whole days in the museums in Madrid and Berlin, and I spent three hours in the National Gallery of Denmark alone. In the next few weeks, I hope to post snippets of the stories that were inspired by these museums, so keep an eye on the blog…
Favorite Places to Write: 3. Glasgow 2. Copenhagen 1. Edinburgh
I spent most of my writing time in parks or museums, which is why Copenhagen wins second prize. Scotland, however, took up many pages of my notebook. No surprise, because Edinburgh provided a lot of inspiration for the Harry Potter series. There’s something about the detail in all of the old buildings and the magic of the Fringe that just got me writing.
Favorite City: 4. Krakow 3. Madrid 2. Dublin 1. A tie between Berlin and Edinburgh!
This is SUCH a hard question to answer, because honestly, I fell in love with pretty much every city I visited. I’m craving a whole summer to explore Krakow. Madrid had a little touch of everything I want in a city. I can see myself living in Dublin, and not just because I love a good Irish coffee. Berlin and Edinburgh though…there was something magical in each city. Berlin had EVERYTHING…but that everything was a bit overwhelming at times. Berlin is the perfect place to live young and crazy. Edinburgh is a little more romantic. I can see myself retiring here, studying here, or writing here. I’m not sure which yet…guess I’ll have to go back and see.
That was fun! I’ve been wanting to write this post for a long time now. Of course, when I visit more cities, my list may change! I want to hear your opinions…where would you fit in Budapest, Paris, Porto….where do you agree with me and where do you differ? Leave me comments and keep checking in for more posts! Thanks again for reading! Cheers!