Well Jetset world, I just turned 25. Some of you may say I’m a baby, but I like to think I’ve accomplished a fair amount in my 25 years. I’d like to think that, for a quarter of a century, I have managed to see a fair amount of the world around me. So in honor of my birthday I am stealing a page out of our incredible, inspiring, one-of-a-kind founder Wendy Hung and making a travel list. Wendy is so cool she did a country for every year she’s been alive, I cant quite pull that off (yet). So here are 25 of the most amazing cities around the world I have visited. Enjoy!!
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1. New Orleans, U.S.A.
Truly, there is no where else like it. I’ve been around the world and there is no where else I would rather call home. A city of complexities, contradictions, traditions and a whole lot of love, I have been here for 6 years and I learn something new about this place every day. WHO DAT?!
2. Philadelphia, U.S.A.
The Illadeph. Forever my hometown, it took me leaving to realize how amazing this city is. Often overlooked, Philly is a bit of an insiders club. We’re tough people, from the Broad Street Bullies to Always Sunny, we have a bit of an attitude. But earn our trust, and philly will prove to be one of the coolest places you’ve seen. Amazing Punk scene (get into Hop Along, just do it), exploding food capital, groundbreaking visual arts (look up the Philadelphia Mural Arts program), and a history that created this country, Philadelphia is something special. E-A-G-L-E-S!
3. Toronto, Canada
Canada can get a tough rap from Americans, but in this way we are just showing our ignorance. Toronto is hella cool. Perpetually stuck in the 90’s it had some of the coolest thrift stores and record shops I’ve seen. Not to mention poutine. I mean, seriously yummy.
4. Reykjavik, Iceland
An unexpected gem. Between the impressive graffiti scene and the amazing natural beauty that surrounds the city, it is probably one of the most physically beautiful places I’ve been. The food is great, the people are friendly. Only downside is how expensive everything can be, the hazard to being an island nation. Well worth a visit.
5. Bangkok, Thailand
Wow! What a whirlwind of a city. So many colors, so many smells, so many things I had never seen before. I was also lucky enough to be there during Sonkran, Thailand’s water festival. Lets just say, getting chased down the street by someone’s grandma so she could dump a bucket of water over my head is something I will never forget. Bangkok has some of the coolest architecture I have seen, get to as many of the temples as you can.
6. Krabi, Thailand
A local capital of the south where I spent most of my time while I was in Thailand, Krabi gives you a good look at how most in Thailand live. Its nothing luxurious, but I walked away with the feeling that I saw a side of Thailand most miss. Not to mention the local beaches of Au Nang and Rai Lay are world renowned for Scuba Diving and Rock Climbing, respectively.
7. Penang, Malaysia
This was an unexpected stop for me, I had to leave Thailand in order to re-new my visa for another month upon re-entry. With that said, I loved this city. Malaysia is cool. Just like the language, its a mixture of so much. Malaysia takes the world around it and boils it into one big pot of noodles. I was blown away by the diversity and literally by the noodles. Some of the best street food I’ve ever had… and the only place I’ve been with sidewalks more messed up than New Orleans.
8. Hopkins Bay, Belize
This little town in Belize really blew me away. I stayed at Hopkins Bay resort, which I would give a strong suggest. Oddly some of the best Indian food I’ve ever had. Not to say that Belizean food isn’t bomb, if I could cook a fish and beans and rice plate as well as the Garifuna friends I made it would be my breakfast, lunch and dinner. The diving in Belize is impressive. The people are incredibly friendly. It is a truly beautiful place.
9. Wellington, New Zealand
Since it is also in New Zealand, it’s the steal-your-breath-away kind of beautiful. Wellington is also the capital, home of one of the oddest looking parliament buildings I have ever seen. Also home to Peter Jackson’s Weta Workshop and the smallest international airport I had seen at that point. Wellington was one of my favorites.
10. Queenstown, New Zealand
One of the southernmost cities before you hit Antarctica, it is an odd place to spend Christmas. Let’s just say Santa looks odd in a bathing suite. Adventure capital of New Zealand, and that is saying something for this country full of thrill seekers. This is where the Bungie Jump was invented and home of the third highest jump, the Nevis Canyon, that I was stupid enough to personally jump off. I swear I screamed so loud it echoed.
11. Dunedin, New Zealand
The physical layout of this quiet cobblestone city actually mirrors Edinburgh in Scotland because the early settlers here were Scottish and wanted the place to look like home. I was lucky enough to spend a New Years here and would go back in a second. You can see endangered penguins and stay in a castle-like hostel that is literally called Hogwarts. If I am lucky enough to pull it off, I would retire to New Zealand in a second.
12. Sydney, Australia
So beautiful, so classy yet so quirky, it is a very fun city. I would suggest the hike up the Sydney Harbor Bridge, it gives you a great view of the city. I had the misfortune of getting lost on their subway with a backpack so large I could zip myself into it. I wish my 18 year old self was better at reading a subway map… and packing light.
13. Cairns, Australia
The city where my love of Scuba diving was born, this city will forever have a special place in my heart. It’s a short boat ride to the northern Great Barrier Reef and just a little way south from Cape Tribulation. Fun night life, beautiful scenery. It is intimate and lovely.
14. Jerusalem, Israel
Capital city for three different major religions, Jerusalem is an intense place. it oozes a history, both beautiful and harrowing. Its not a friendly city, but it is a beautiful one.
15. Tel Aviv, Israel
A city that loves to party. Isrealis call themselves Sabra, after a thorn covered pear that grows on the local cactus. By this they mean they are prickly on the outside and sweet in the middle. Tel Aviv has a lot of the sweetness. Beautiful beaches, great food, amazing history, it’s one-of-a-kind.
16. Chefchaouen, Morocco
A city in the Moroccan mountains painted light blue; friendly people, mint tea and some of the most beautiful rugs I have ever seen. It is a truly lovely place. Simple, quiet, and oh-so-lovely.
17. Granada, Spain
Truly one of my favorite places in the world for two reasons. One, tapas. Granada is one of the few places in Spain that still does tapas the old fashioned way. Which is to say, as long as you stick around and drink, they are going to bring you food. And its not the type of food they slack off on, it’s delicious. Two, the Alhambra. Perhaps my favorite place in the world. So lovely I went twice. I took thousands of photos of the carvings there, inspiring me on a whole new train with my personal art. It is a city, and a building, you should see before you die.
18. Seville, Spain
Hot Hot Hot! Literally, I was there in the summer and it was even hotter than New Orleans. But I would go back in a second. The main reason, Flamenco of corse! The music, the singing, the dancing, it hit me in the gut and i’ve been in love ever since. Plus the cathedral is amazing. And the food is so good. And the nightlife was bomb. Yeah, its a pretty amazing place.
19. Galway, Ireland
So lovely I ditched the rest of my plans to spend a few extra days. It’s quiet, it’s cozy, the food is great, and the music hits you in a special place in your soul. The main street is old, you can feel it seeping through the cobble stones. It’s the kind of place you go to forget the rest of the world. Go get wrapped up in hills of rolling green and lakes of Guinness.
20. Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Man did I love this place. Dank, cold, wet, its a place of history and great Scotch. Its the kind of place that makes you think witches are real. And I don’t mean like Sabrina the teenage witch, I mean like Micbeth’s witches. Maybe thats why J.K. Rowling so much of Harry Potter in the The Elephant House cafe, not to far from Edinburgh castle. Something wicked this way comes…
21. London, United Kingdom
A thriving heartbeat, capital in every sense of the word. Its a place you really need to see. Grab some fish and chips or a curry and spend some time. Also home to an amazing rap scene, check out Skepta, Little Simz, and Sampha to get an idea. I keep going back and I always will.
22. Zurich, Switzerland
If I ever happen to become fabulously wealthy, I’d move to Zurich in a heartbeat. This place literally feels like a fairy tail. Castles on cliffs, clear blue lakes, and a passion for chocolate, the place is amazing. Honestly, everyone I saw was beautiful, happy, brilliant and friendly. I saw a 5 year old on the subway speaking to his mom in a mixture of Swiss-German, English, and Spanish. The place blew my mind.
23. Rome, Italy
Loud, hot, in-your-face, and unapologetic there is no where else like it. Its somewhere to see before you die. If you like history, if you like food, if you like to live life with some flavor, this city has it in spades. Romans are crazy people. And crazy drivers. I actually saw a man who had gotten in a traffic accident on this vespa, just contentedly lying on the ground texting while the medics checked him out. Honestly, you could not pay me to drive a scooter in that city.
24. Florence, Italy
Something about that sea of orange rooftops you can see from the top of Duomo will stay with me till I die. Not to mention seeing Michelangelo’s David and all the other art that calls Florence its home. Its quieter than Rome, but just as appealing. I truly loved it there.
25. Cairo, Egypt
Wow. This place was nothing like what I thought it would be. The people were so friendly, it is honestly one of the top places I have seen for hospitality. AMAZING street art, museums, food that will blow your mind. And, you know, PYRAMIDS! Riding an arabian horse through the desert to drink tea and watch the sun set over the pyramids, that was a day I will never forget.
Photos: Hillary Kurland
What’s on your global cities list? Share with us in the comments.
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