23 places I’ve visited in my 23 years (part 2)
Without further ado, here is the second and final rundown of some of the best (subjectively, of course) places I’ve visited so far. Here’s to hoping that my 24th year brings many more additions to this list!
To give my first list a look-through, head over here!
The ever-increasingly popular capital of Hungary is one of my favourite places; the pearly white spires, stretches of water and thermal baths all make for a gorgeous getaway.
Highlight: ‘The Shoes on the Danube Bank’ can hardly be classed as a highlight admittedly; however, it is a moving memorial to honour the Hungarian Jews who were lined up and shot by Arrow Cross militiamen between 1944 and 1945. The stretch of iron-cast shoes is very poignant and in stark contrast to the beautiful surroundings on the bank of the Danube. Worth a visit.
Bayreuth isn’t particularly well-known. It’s a mid-size Bavarian city located midway between Munich and Berlin, is probably most famous for being the home of Richard Wagner. It’s also a melting pot of Baroque architecture, opera, stunning green spaces and traditional Franconian cuisine (yes, that does mean pork knuckle – head to Oskars and thank me later).
Highlight: The intricate Baroque gardens, park and water features of the Eremitage are truly worth seeing. Well-maintained and well-designed, I easily passed a whole afternoon snacking on the lawns and meandering along the paths, taking in the greenery with friends.
The city is romantic, it is dizzying, it is stuffed to the brim with a multitude of cultures, of languages, of cuisine and history – each street is a story and each building brick is an ode to bygone eras. It is loud, it is brash, it is unashamed, it is pretentious, it is harsh and frivolous at the same time. It’s one of a kind.
Highlight: Sitting outside any corner café of an early morning, drinking café au lait and eating fresh pastry. It’s a cliché but it’s also a necessity.
Dijon is relaxed, proud of itself, a hub of culture with an air of confidence. Tucked away in the Bourgogne region, Dijon knows the food, events and sights it offers are spectacular.
Highlight: It is dangerously easy to while away the hours at Dijon’s own beach at Lac Kir. On a sunny weekend it is guaranteed to be teeming with the locals sunning themselves, bike rides, volleyball games and leisurely swimmers.
Vienna is inspiring, there’s no two ways about it. Ask Billy Joel and Ultravox. It combines the livability of Melbourne, the coolness of Berlin and the beauty of Rome in one effortless Austrian mélange (yes, that does sound like a delicious dessert).
Highlight: My personal highlight was a trip to the Travelshack, which is a bar/club just a little out of the centre of Vienna. Whilst I appreciate it isn’t particularly enriching to be doing shots in a smoky bar and watching drunk backpackers swing around a stripper pole, I spent the evening talking and laughing with travellers from all countries and all walks of life. Isn’t that what travelling is all about? Give it a visit, Vienna waits for you (sorry).
Cologne is an often-overlooked city in Germany, for no good reason; it’s an exceptionally cool place, with plenty to often in terms of nightlife, shopping and sights.
Highlight: The Glowing Rooms is a fun bar-cum-mini-golf course, decorated with amazing glow-in-the-dark art. Definitely worth a trip.
The vibe in Valencia varies starkly from that in, say, Barcelona or Madrid. The city is a mish-mash of striking art nouveau and gothic architecture, futuristic structures, street after street of luxe and shopping and, with only a short trip out of the centre, stretches of stunning beach.
Highlight: Head to the Plaza del Ayuntamiento square at some point in the evening to see the spectacular fountains all lit up. If you’re in search of a restaurant that provides value for money, a wonderful ambience and delicious food, head out of the centre to the L’Eixample quarter to Lambrusqueria.
Ah, Amsterdam. It’s more than just weed, pancakes, bikes and the Red Light District (although admittedly that is a lot of it). This chilly city is a hipster dream, dotted with independent cafes, individual bars and interesting sights.
Highlight: It’s a gimmick, yes. But it’s a fun one. Infinitely cheaper than the Ice Bar in London and just as cool (sorry again), the Ice Bar was a really fun way to round off an evening and unwind after full day of sightseeing.
I don’t need to tell you about what an amazing city Berlin is; there’s a reason it’s a thriving multi-Kulti metropolis, home of start-ups and history and champion of all things extraordinary. Whoever you are and whatever you do, you’ll feel welcome and accepted in Berlin.
Highlight: If you don’t know about Dr Pong, you’re missing out. Unassuming and frankly pretty shabby from the outside, this hidden bar takes minimalism to the extreme. In a way that is truly reflective of Berlin style, this hole-in-the-wall is a great place to have a few drinks, meet new people and play tipsy round-the-table ping-pong.
Bled’s premier attractions are a lake of glacial origin with an island in the middle and a castle whose history dates back to the 11th century. Reachable by bus from Ljubljana, the atmosphere at this lake is fairytale-esque.
Higlight: Well, the lake, obviously. Take some time to row to the island in the middle and round off your day with a slab of ‘Bled Cake’. The only way to do it.
Rarely at the top of anyone’s ‘Must-See’ list but lovely all the same, this bustling university town is renowned for its wine tavern culture and loud and brash celebration of Karneval.
Highlight: A buzzing student hotspot, Red Cat is a cool cellar-style nightclub and a fun place to dance the night away.
My home away from home and the coolest city in Saxony (arguably in Germany) – Leipzig is the birthplace of some of the most renowned music, theatre, food and literature. It also plays host to a buzzing student population, gorgeous man-made lakes on the periphery and some of the best electronic music and clubs in the whole of Germany.
Highlight: Too many to count by far. Everything in this city is a highlight for me, but one of my favourite days involved a trip to the summer street fest ‘Karli Beben’. Complete with music, mini-shows, food, beer and flea markets, this celebration is a perfect example of the laid-back Leipzig lifestyle.
So there you have it, a thorough compilation of some amazing places that I personally have enjoyed, and you should definitely think about enjoying too. Time for me to make a cup of Horlicks, pop on my slippers and listen to the Archers, the old biddy that I now am.