After traveling to world for some 15 years now, predominately solo, and visited 54 countries and counting, there are a number of cities across the globe that I love, and yearn to go back to. And several of these I do go back to, frequently. One is the place I consider home, as much as life at the moment allows that notion.
My Top 5 Favourite Cities:
1 New York. This raging metropolis has been top of my list right from my very first visit back in 1999 - and I have been back 5 times now, with my last visit an opportunity to show it to my little sister. The magic of the Brooklyn Bridge, the wonder of wandering different neighbourhoods and getting totally different vibes for each, and the fact that there is always something happening somewhere, all appeal. The frantic bustle, the buzz and energy, and the possibilities, all make me dream of living there one day.
2 Tokyo - the Asian New York. But Tokyo is more perfected, more precise and efficient. So easy to get around, the food is amazing, the people are so cute, hip, and super friendly. I loved the energy and the cultural polar opposites at every turn. I'd love to return one day.
3 Phnom Penh. A city and country that got under my skin when I lived and worked there as a volunteer some 12 years ago now, and always feel a yearning to return. I would live and work there again in a heartbeat, for the right role. Going back early last year, the elements that I loved and hated about living in the city were ever present, reminding me of the buzz of the place - the amazing people and the killer traffic and pollution, the feeling of humanity from the way most people live and then the huge disparity between the rich and poor, the sense of rebuilding and resilience and then the evidence of the persistent corruption. The food, the buzz of new places to patronage, the feeling that just being there amongst it gives, as if you are somehow in the middle of something happening, something good and real and reborn.
4 Toronto. Just three months living there, admittedly over Summer (I am not sure I would survive a Canadian Winter!), was enough to know that this is a city that feels very much like home. And it IS very similar to Melbourne in many ways - the multiculturalism, the notion that there is always a festival going on somewhere, there is a great music scene, and different neighbourhoods are different little pockets across the city.
5 Melbourne, of course. One of the world's most livable cities, so the city finds itself claiming every year - and where I would sit still if the planets aligned again for that to happen (Hmmm, I am not sure what that would take, though!). The city that is my benchmark for everywhere else, in terms of what I want in a city - good sports events, a buzzing music scene, easy to get around, neighbourhoods that are unique from each other and have their own distinct character. Multiculturalism is what makes Melbourne so vibrant and full of so many amazing and diverse events, all year round. Good food, and always something new to discover and track down.
What would yours be?