Travel

5 cities that deserve a return visit…

 

There’s nothing more exciting than visiting a new city or a new country.  The anticipation, the research, the exhilaration of discovery and exploration.  Occasionally, the disappointment.  Collecting more countries to add to the “done” list, ticking them off the “to-do” list; there’s a sense of satisfaction in comparing “numbers” with others.

But sometimes, some places deserve a return visit.  A visit where you are no longer bound to see all the tourist attractions, where it’s not a whistle-stop tour dictated by the must-sees in a Lonely Planet guidebook.  A visit where you can immerse yourself a little bit more in local flavour, not just the shiny façade that the tourist board wants you to see.  So here are 5 places that I would love to return to, to give them the opportunity that they deserve to make me fall in love with them all over again.  Oh, and a bonus one that I’d like to have fallen in love with in the first place…

Milan

Milan - one of the 5 cities I would most like to return to
The Duomo, Milan

Milan was almost an afterthought to our 2015 Italian trip, only selected because of its cheapish flights from Birmingham and it was a natural start and end point for all the other Northern Italy destinations we had carefully selected.  But it soon became clear that one afternoon and evening isn’t enough for this stylish city.  It’s a city full of dramatic architecture, amazing art, culture and music, amazing food and drink, a sprawling city park and fascinating people-watching opportunities in what must be one of the most fashionable cities in the world.

In one afternoon we managed to see Basilica San Lorenzo Maggiore, climb the rooftop of the beautiful Cathedral, window-shop at  Gallerie Vittorio Emmanuele II, take a whistle-stop tour through the Brera district, stroll through  Parco Sempione, have an alfresco dinner at Via Dante and drink expensive cocktails in the rooftop bar of La Rinascente department store.  But we didn’t get to visit any of the fabulous galleries or museums, stand in line to see Da Vinci’s Last Supper, climb Torre Branca for panoramic city views or get a glimpse inside the famous La Scala opera house.  With budget flights to Milan Malpensa from Birmingham, and a great public transport system, there is no excuse not to pop back and spend more time in this wonderful city. And its proximity to the lakes of Northern Italy is also pushing Milan way back up on the re-visit list.

See Ciao Milano! Cathedrals, Castles and Cocktails for more about our June 2015 visit to Milan.

New York City

New York City is one of 5 cities that deserves a return visit
An iconic Manhattan skyline (photo credit @CPF_Photography)

Let’s get this straight.  Two and a bit days are not enough to see the Big Apple.  Even if you plan your time meticulously in order to see all the main tourist attractions it is impossible to estimate the amount of time you will spend travelling between sights.  Central Park and Empire State Building look close together on the map, right?  They’re about a mile and a half apart.  Want to follow that up with a visit to Battery Park to glimpse Lady Liberty?  That’s another 3.5 mile.  How about a stroll over to Brooklyn?  It’s another mile to the Manhattan pedestrian entrance to the Brooklyn Bridge, which in itself is just over a mile long.  Plan to use the subway?  Subway stations are huge; some underground platforms span two or three blocks.  And unscheduled cancellations and changes mean you’ll pop back up in the city with no idea where your next closest station may be. (I wasn’t overly enamoured with the New York Subway.  Give me the easy-to-navigate London Underground or Paris Metro any day).

We barely scratched the surface of New York.  Next time I’d avoid Times Square like the plague.  I’d walk the High Line, popping down to Chelsea and the Meatpacking District.  I’d go to the Tenement Museum to learn more about the immigrant history of the city.  I’d spend more time in Brooklyn.  I’d visit Coney Island and eat hot dogs and ride the Wonder Wheel.  I’d eat dim sum in Chinatown and pizza in Little Italy.  I’d say hello to the blue whale at the Museum of Natural History.  I’d finally find Strawberry Fields in Central Park.  I’d catch a baseball game at the Yankees Stadium (but secretly cheer for my beloved Red Sox).  Yep, all tourist stuff but there’s so much that we couldn’t do in an initial 2 day visit.  In  my opinion, New York is best experienced in bite-sized chunks, so it could be another one or two visits before the all the best sights are seen.

Want to know more about our September 2013 Big Apple trip? Click here for USA Sept 2013: New York New York, It’s a Wonderful Town… (Part 1) and (Part 2)

Prague

Prague - one of the 5 cities I've chosen that I would love to return to
A beautiful and snowy Prague

Prague in February 2010 was our first city break together, a first wedding anniversary gift for us both.  It snowed, it was freezing cold but incredibly romantic; we drank hot chocolate in the Old Town Square; we climbed towers, and strolled across the Charles Bridge after dark.  The reason Prague would be on my return list is because the trip happened before I started blogging and before Mr Fletche picked up his camera.  We have wonderful memories and blurry photos but I can only imagine the pictures Mr Fletche would capture now in this pretty and atmospheric city.

At the same time, one of the reasons this trip was memorable was because we were both there, in the moment, all the time.  Not behind a camera lens, or thinking of new and unique ways to describe frequently-blogged-about sights.  Maybe there is something to be said for a more mindful way of travelling?  But whether to capture in images or in words, or just in more memories, Prague is definitely worth another visit.  Maybe in summer next time?

San Francisco

San Francisco - One of the 5 cities I'd love to return to
The Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco

San Francisco was the first city that I could imagine packing up my life in the UK and moving abroad for.  It was a beautiful September; the parks were full of joggers and dog walkers and people throwing balls and Frisbees.  Ocean air, a laid-back vibe, great seafood (too much seafood…), Ghirardelli’s ice cream sundaes.  And sea lions.  And in close proximity to one of the greatest coastal drives, both South and North of the city.  This was one of the cities where we did suffer a little from having a car and therefore booking a motel with free parking in the funky Marina District.  For return visitors this would be a perfect location, but for San Francisco newbies the three-mile round-trip walk up and down gruelling hills to the “touristy bits” started to take its toll after the first day.

Ghiradelli Square, Fisherman’s Wharf, Lombard Street.  Pier 39, Coit Tower, the Ferry Building.  Union Square, a night trip to Alcatraz, a bumpy but fun cable car ride.  Golden Gate Park, Alamo Square, Haight-Ashbury.  That’s a lot to pack into 2 days.   But there was little time built into that itinerary to just slow down and take in the city.  On a return visit, there would be little need to revisit those key tourist attractions.  We could enjoy the restaurants and coffee shops and microbreweries.  We could linger at Fort Mason or at the Presidio or at Golden Gate Park, with a picnic and a Frisbee.  We could cycle (or walk) across the Golden Gate Bridge, enjoy an afternoon in Sausalito and get the ferry back to the city.  Next time will be more about relaxing, and experiencing some of the lesser-explored neighbourhoods off the tourist trail.

It’s also a good launch point for a Pacific Northwest roadtrip…

You can find out more about our September 2010 trip to San Francisco in these three blogs: Off to San Francisco!Walking, big hills, more walking, and Golden Gate Park, Alcatraz, Meeting Bush Man…

Venice

Venice, one of 5 cities that I'd love to return to. Find out more at www.abrummiehomeandabroad.com
Good morning Venice. (Photo credit @CPF_Photography)

In three days, we walked pretty much the length and breadth of Venice.  And when we wasn’t walking, we were hopping on the vaporetto (our 3-day tickets being the best purchase of our Italy trip by far), disembarking on one of Venice’s many islands or just enjoying the breeze on our faces as we sailed down the Grand Canal.  We quite literally got lost down tiny cobbled streets, crossing bridges, finding tiny little hole in the wall bars to feed our ever-growing Aperol Spritz addiction.  We slowly sipped a ridiculously expensive prosecco at Caffe Florian in St Mark’s Square whilst listening to the duelling orchestras.  We shared litres of ridiculously cheap white wine at outdoor restaurant tables nestled close to the canal, or in a tree-lined campo.  Rialto, Gondoliers, Doges Palace; tick, tick, tick.

And yet, one could spend hours and days and weeks just roaming around Venice, something new around every corner, and down every alleyway, and in every courtyard.  Early mornings in Venice are a photographer’s dream, with a magical golden light bathing practically empty piazzi.  There is nothing left to tick off the tourist’s ticklist, yet we could return tomorrow and still fill our days with endless meandering.

For more on our June 2015 Venice trip, see A city like no other and The prettiest places…

Bonus….Copenhagen

Copenhagen - should we give this city another try?
Nyhavn, Copenhagen (Photo Credit @CPF_Photography)

Whilst the world and their dog were raving about Copenhagen last year, Mr Fletche and I had something of a “meh” experience.  I’ve documented our main reasons for not loving Copenhagen here but I can’t help thinking that we must have missed something which would have turned our Danish frowns upside down.  If we were to give Copenhagen another try, we would visit when the famous Tivoli Gardens were open, so we could scream ourselves silly on the wooden Rutschebanen roller coaster and fly through the air on the Star Flyer.  We’d spend more time near the lakes, and in Norrebro, where the best bars seemed to be.  We’d spend more time near the station, where the cheapest bars seemed to be.  We’d eat at the street food hall at Paper Island – more easily accessible now that the pedestrian bridge actually goes all the way across.  We’d hire bicycles and ride down Langelinie, barely stopping to wave at the tiny and overrated Little Mermaid.  We’d take a train, not out of the country this time, but to Helsingor to see Hamlet’s castle, or to the modern art museum and sculpture park Louisiana.  Yes, Copenhagen, I might just give you one more chance someday to woo me…

You can read about what we did get up to on our April 2016 Copenhagen trip: Wonderful Wonderful Copenhagen? (Part 1) and (Part 2)

Which cities would you like to return to, and why? And like us, have you ever felt a bit “meh” about somewhere that everyone else seems to love?  Let me know in the comments!

Thank you to @cpf_photography for letting me use some of his amazing photos – all the pics are mine unless otherwise stated.

5 Cities that Deserve a Return Visit.png

Advertisements

17 thoughts on “5 cities that deserve a return visit…

  1. Having visited the American cities, I agree with your assessment of NYC and SF but a bit sad that Seattle doesn’t feature. Cannot wait to visit the European cities you’ve listed now that we live in Brum! 🙂 I could do the things you’ve listed you wished you did only on my 3rd NYC trip (plus watching US Open tennis, recommended) 😛 Also moving to SFO for most people would be only possible after selling a few organs, it is that expensive.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Seattle is definitely on the list for a first time visit! We are lucky to be in close proximity to our European neighbours and therefore it makes return visits to some of our favourite cities much easier 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I would love to go back to Berlin. I did not get to see Charlottenburg castle which I really wanted to.

    Rome I have been several times to and always have the feeling I have not seen enough of it. There are still things I want to see and do, like stand on top of St. Peters dome and look down on the rooftops of Rome.

    Vienna definitely. Have been several times to, but always as part of a tour which never allows enough time and plus we got rained out every single time.

    Verona in Italy actually was incredibly picturesque. Would love to spend more time there and get lost in the side streets.

    Florence. I always wanted to go to Florence, a few years ago we went and the city was jam packed with tourists and it was baking hot. Would love to see the city in a milder season.

    Jaipur in India or India period. Such a fascinating country. Spent two weeks there and I know in my heart I need to go back.

    Tallin/ Estonia. It was an amazing little town and I’d love to go back and explore more.

    I could continue the list with many more cities. 🤗

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, great list! Loads on there that I haven’t done so I look forward to visiting and seeing if I agree. Personally I feel like I’ve “done” Florence now but I guess others feel the same about Venice or Prague!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The only one on your list I’ve been to is Prague, which I loved. I would love to revisit Berlin. Even though I lived there for six months, there is still so much that I haven’t seen. I’m reading a book set there and it keeps mentioning places I haven’t even heard of.

    Like

  4. I enjoyed this post esxpecailly as I haven’t been to nay of these cities except Copenhagen which I LOVE!! I’ll keep these in mind for future travels. Just tweeted this for #SundayBlogShare too 🙂

    Like

  5. I thoroughly enjoyed your list of “5 cities that deserves a return visit”. I love reading and hearing about people’s experiences when they travel to different cities, and their advice on what they would have done differently or the same. The only city that I have the pleasure of visiting is SF. And may I also add that although I am biased, I think Vancouver, BC should have been on your list too! 🙂

    Like

  6. Other than NYC (I’ve been there a few times), these are all on my list to visit for the first time! My travel has been limited, but I’d have to say Paris would top my list for a return trip. I’m lucky that I’ve been able to visit twice (once for a couple days, once for a week) in my teens, and I’d love to see it now as an adult.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I enjoyed Paris a lot, but feel that I’ve “done” the city (even though I didn’t go up the Eiffel Tower or go to the Louvre…I am a bad tourist :D). Although to be fair, my travel style has changed since I was there 6 years ago, so maybe I would see it through different eyes a second time around!

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s