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Saturday, May 05, 2018

My Favourite Foreign Cities

I wanted to create a list of my favourite cities.

I appreciate that it isn't easy to put them into context - those that I have visited most recently are most likely to be fresh in the memory and hold fond memories closer to hand.

Also I have visited the cities with different people and for different reasons - some cities I got to know much better than others.

24. Rome

I was only there for a short weekend, and with a couple (the female of which I rather fancied) so maybe this was never going to feature too highly - I also found the city rude and way too expensive.  This was before the days of Trip Advisor so it is highly unlikely that I have seen the best of Rome - and it hasn't seen the best of me.

23. Amsterdam

This was just a day-trip, and we spent it in the Red Light district.  It just felt overly seedy, too touristy and vaguely sinister in places.  Smoking weed probably didn't help.  There is, of course, much more to Amsterdam but I didn't see it, hence it is low down in my list.

22. Brussels


A recent trip on the wonderful Eurostar, but Brussels is a damn boring city.  Excellent for beer, but not an awful lot to do apart from that.

21. Venice

Another over-rated city, absolutely packed-full of tourists.  Plus it rained when I went, and I had very little money so I couldn't afford to go into the attractions.  Very pretty, and I don't doubt many people love it for good reason - but it was just too cliche and obvious for me.

20. Zakopane

A cute town in the mountains of south Poland.  Awesome sausages and very cheap drinks prices - I had a lot of fun the first night and then was ill.

19. Bologna

I quite liked Bolonga.  It seemed an under-rated Italian city with plenty of culture and history - I did it on the same trip as Venice and didn't have much money to spend, but found it enjoyable, if not a must-visit.

18. Bratislava


I'd booked a trip here just before I was made unemployed, so another holiday on a budget.  And it was -4'C - constantly.  We tried to find cheap/free things to do but the main conclusion was to drink cheap beer.

17. Dublin

Only there for 36 hours (awake all of them...oops), Dublin has a lot of energy and is definitely a drinking city.  We saw no culture - we were not there for that.  I even managed a few Tinder swipes - and boy people liked my mullet.

16. Maastrict

A random Ryanair flight in my early 20's and where I discovered Leffe beer - my life changed at that point.  I don't remember an awful lot about it, except drinking beer and remarking that everything was closed on the Sunday.

15. Stuttgart


This was back in the days when I used to enter competitions in my spare time - and I won a holiday to Stuttgart.  It was absolutely freezing cold, but had a great bar scene, good nightlife, excellent Bratwurst - a very functional German city.  And a huge Christmas market - if you like that kind of thing when it is -4'C by day.

14. Bucharest


My first visit to eastern Europe was interesting.  You could see just how poor some people were, yet it was clearly becoming quite modern too - though with many a dilapidated building.  Some amazing nightclubs - the centre of modern minimal techno, we had good food, good cheap wine - spent some time in a really nice park.  It is similar to visiting any western European city - but you know you are in eastern Europe.  Hot women too.

13. Paris

I've been to Paris so many times, probably more than any other city on the list.  It does have a certain pomposity and rudeness in places, matching the obvious tourist areas.  Yet there is far more to it than that, similar to London - stepping away from the main tourist areas is key.  I may have had my share of ultra-rude waitresses but I've also met loads of great people there too, and been to some damn cool parties.  I'd go again, but I've got far too many places that I have never been to - and far too little money.

12. Zurich


I was there for the Zurich Street Parade last year.  32 trucks full of nutcases dancing to a wide variety of dance music.  So much fun.  Probably would be really boring outside of then, it is very expensive too, and maybe doesn't justify being halfway in the list.  But hey.  It's my list.

11. Tirano


I was really touched by this little town in the Italian mountains - and the picturesque scenery.  I'd probably never visit again, and was ripped off for dinner, but it just felt really good being there.

10. Frankfurt


A load of us went here to go to Cocoon nightclub - what an awesome experience that was.  This was just such a fun weekend - one of my best weekends ever.  Was the city actually that good?  Well, I really like Germany and thought it had a good combination of surprise and impressiveness.  Doubtless it would not be so high in the list were it not such an awesome weekend.  Had my best Bratwurst ever here too.

9. Delft

We only spent one night here, but it is a super-cute town in the Netherlands - the people were really friendly, and we had a personal guided tour of the town.  Great beer again, too.

8. Milan


I enjoyed Milan more than I expected - I had this impression in my head that it would be of pompous, uber-stylish Milanese, though they were probably on holiday.  Great pizza, I discovered Gustav Klimt here, and the city itself seems to have more going on than the obvious, similar to Paris and London with some really interesting districts to explore for cultural events.

7. Lisbon

The first beer I had here cost 62p.  There is a theme here, isn't there?  I like places with cheap beer.  Believe it or not, there is nowhere in Scandinavia in this list.  Lisbon also had a hell of a lot of charm too - quite a beautiful city, with a gorgeous castle - we had some nice food - though also one really shit meal, like, truly shit.  I'd go back for sure.

6. Den Haag

I wouldn't have considered going to the capital of Holland - but I had won a competition to go on holiday there (I used to spend hours every week entering them when I was really poor).  Instantly I loved the feel of the place - a modern European city, lots of wide open space - one of the first things that struck me was the sheer volume of bicycles.  Wish the holiday had been in summer so we could have gone to the beach to...yes Den Haag has a beach.  Great city.

5. Sevilla


I went by myself here and really enjoyed it - I am sure that I would have truly loved it with others.  Gorgeous weather despite being the beginning of November, cheap beer, some very good tapas and a load of hot Spanish women to stare at.  Also where I discovered "free" tours...managed 3 nights on a strict budget too.  The city itself was just beautiful, I loved getting lost in all the tiny roads.

4. Madrid


The bigger the city the better.  And the more Spanish the city, the better too.  I just loved the vibe in Madrid, I loved the busyness - there was so much to do.  We had a great guided tour of the city and found out so much about the history of Spain.  Had an awesome steak dinner, some good tapas, and went to some really nice bars.  Plus sunshine.  Oh yeah and hot Spanish women.  I have a feeling I will be going back again - not in July or August though.

3. Barcelona

I was far too young to appreciate Barcelona properly, just being in my early 20's.  We stayed in a proper rough area, with crack dealers and prostitutes outside our hotel all day and night.  Yet in the 24 hours that I was there (I went just to buy a load of duty-free cigarettes to sell), I just loved the vibe and more than that, for the first time I discovered that buildings are beautiful - not just functional.  It taught me to appreciate architecture and was a more important trip for my future being than I expected.  I need to go back.

2. Ibiza Town


Were this a large city then it would probably be number 1.  I love Ibiza - the whole island, but I'm talking cities here.  The historic centre is so beautiful, the vibe (that word again) is captivating, I've had some amazing food here - in fact, all of the best tapas that I have ever eaten has been on this island.  I feel at home here.  I wish I could live there.

1. Berlin

What can I say about Berlin?  It is a magical place.  So, so much history.  So many brilliant parties.  I've been 3 times (I think?!) - once was for the Love Parade back in 2014, 1.4m people dancing to techno...it was life-changing.  Berlin is such a cool city - so much history that relates to me.  I love Germany.  I love Germans.  I really should go back as I haven't experienced it anywhere near as much as I want to.  Out of everywhere I have been - Berlin is my favourite city by some way.