…It is the traveler only who is foreign” – Robert Louis Stevenson
I have, on quite a few occasions talked about my favourite cities and my top five has been pretty constant for many years. I also seem to publish these types of posts when I am having an unproductive afternoon in the office, and today is no exception! I have visited these cities at least once, and of course, London is where I live so I visit that daily, and all of them hold a special place in my heart.
So, to begin…
1: London. Well that was a pretty obvious start wasn’t it? Those who know me know of my love for this great city; a place that I have had an emotional attachment to all my life, because it is where my father and his family came from, mostly. A city I came to several times as a child when Dad would drive up here to go the theatre. A place of eccentrics and eccentricities, where punk rockers and the suited and booted can walk side by side down the King’s Road. A city that indeed was not friendly to me when I first moved here and one that made me work to find my feet and get used to the way of life here. However, I now regard it as my home and I won’t and can’t live anywhere else.
2: Paris. Obvious to those who know my French heritage. A beautiful, vibrant city that I also adore, have enjoyed visiting for as long as I can remember and one that I look forward to seeing again in the future. The city (or, to be more precise, one of its suburbs) that my lovely Mum comes from. The city into which my chic, beautiful aunt fitted so well and she really was one of those gorgeous Parisienne ladies you see in magazines and films. The city of lights, with the smell of Gauloises and Gitanes cigarettes (that I used to smoke at times) in the air, bistro’s, a well deserved café au lait and a croissant and lazily watching the world go by whilst the waiters scurry around you with their long white aprons fluttering in the breeze.
3: New York. Brash, loud, fast, non-stop, full of life. I first visited NY in 2000 and loved it. Loved the madness of the city, loved the sights and tastes, the melting pot of differences (just like London), and the New York Jewish accent! When I flew out again on 11 September 2002, it was to a much more sombre city, that was still coming to terms with the atrocities of the previous year, it was confused and dazed, bruised but not beaten and the heart was still beating. I felt duty bound to pay my respects at Ground Zero, you could not go there then and not do that. One day I will visit it again.
4: Venice. This is such a wonderful city and I was spellbound when I saw it. Quite unlike anywhere I had been to before and going up the Grand Canal to our hotel was an experience; the volume of water traffic was as much as you would ever see on a road! A city you can easily get lost in, whose little alleyways echo with ghostly footsteps that fool you into thinking you are going one way, when in fact you are going somewhere else. The Gondoliers in their striped shirts competing with each other for your business. The sound of water gently lapping against the buildings. It’s a lovely place.
5: Jerusalem. I am not religious and don’t subscribe to a belief system, but here, here you can almost taste and smell the strength of the feelings of those of a religious bent. And it is easy to see how strong a hold religion has here. Here history is almost alive. Here, where the four quarters of the old walled city are so different to each other you could be fooled into thinking you were walking in different countries. I have been here twice, visited all the traditional places, seen where Christ is said to be buried, both from a Catholic and Protestant perspective. I have had my bag searched at a check point leading down to the Wailing Wall, have walked bare foot on the sumptuous carpets of the Dome of the Rock. I have seen the desperation of those who lay claim to this city. In this city, my normally low levels of religious tolerance become more mellow, and that is fine. This has to be one of the most fascinating and captivating cities on earth, and I will visit it again.
Your list will indeed be different to mine, and if you feel like sharing, I would love to know what places you love/admire the most.