The Beach Countdown Continues...
with a Trip to the City
First off, I just gotta say that I got the biggest kick out of reading your comments yesterday. And now I have a whole list of beaches that I can dream about. Beaches in faraway places like Singapore, Europe, and the Greek Isles. And beaches that I am absolutely going to have to visit someday (Navarre Beach in Florida, and the Outer Banks in North Carolina are two I want to try!). So...thanks for joining in the fun yesterday. It's always fun to learn more about this great big world we live in!
And now today is another day in the Countdown to the Beach. And I am now officially at Five Days and Counting. Just five days until I touch down by the seaside, rush to the hotel, run outside and wiggle my toes in the sand. (Can't you just feel the anticipation? lol)
I thought I would break away from the beach theme for a moment today, but still stay on the general vacation theme for the week. Because, believe it or not, beaches aren't the only places I like to go on vacation. I am actually very adventurous and love to visit all sorts of destinations. I love the mountains, rustic outdoor areas, historical locales, little "out of the way" towns, and big cities.
(Travel is, after all, a desire to see something different. To smell different scents, see different sights, hear different sounds. It's a yearning to simply go.)
I do enjoy visiting cities, though, so I thought I'd share a few of my favorite cities with you today.
(As I came up with the list of my five favorite cities, I realized how woefully un-traveled I am beyond my borders. There are so many great cities of the world--London, Paris, Rome, and so many, many more that I would love to visit. Shoot! I haven't even been to my own country's New York City.)
The biggest city I've ever been to is Mexico City, which was #1 in population in the world when I went to it (it fluctuates back and forth with Beijing, I think, for that notoriety). I remember just being overwhelmed by the vastness of that city (as we arrived by plane, the city seemed to just go on and on toward the horizon; I could see building after building, but they really just looked like miniature toys).
I'm not sure what the smallest city I've ever been to is, although I've been through a lot of them. When you live and travel in the South, you happen upon a lot of cities with one traffic light and one fast food establishment named something like Dairy King, Dairy Crown, or Dairy Freeze. (As we go through towns like this, McKenna will invariably say something like, "I want to live in a town like this, where everyone knows your name." We invariably end up convincing her that she'd go crazy without a Starbucks nearby.)
I enjoy historical cities (Washington D.C. is so jam-packed full of sites that you can spend weeks just roaming up and down the streets); literary cities (like my very favorite literary town, Oxford Mississippi, where William Faulkner lived and wrote); musical cities (the Elvis-loving Memphis, the country-heaven Nashville, and the just-plain-cool Austin); slow cities, fast cities, hot cities, and cold cities. Give me a city, a city map, and a car to maneuver it, and I am in some sort of travelers-heaven.
So, what are my very favorite cities?
This is a pretty eclectic list, especially when I think of the many other cities I've been to, but I've narrowed it down to five (these are my favorite today; they would probably change tomorrow. Okay, Number One wouldn't change. But maybe some of the others.)
#5 would be Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
Strange choice, huh? Not really, when you consider that it's where I went to high school and college... it's where my parents, brother, and best friend still live...it's where I got married...it is chock full of really great restaurants for a town its size...and it's home to the greatest college football team in the world.
(Here is Delaney walking down "The Strip" and Bryant Denny Stadium on gameday.)
#4 would be Other College Towns.
I always thank my lucky stars for the fact that I lived in some of the coolest places on earth growing up. Because my Dad was a college professor, I grew up in college towns...which meant you always had interesting, intellectual places to visit and a diverse population around you. I've lived in Austin, Texas and Fayetteville, Arkansas (two great college towns), but I also really like Athens, Georgia; Charlottesville, Virginia; and Oxford, Mississippi. (Baton Rouge happens to have good Cajun food, but otherwise it doesn't have much redeeming value to me.)
#3 would be Savannah, Georgia.
Wanna see Southern hospitality at its finest? Wanna see one of the most beautifully-landscaped cities anywhere? Wanna feel the history just "ooze" out of every corner? Visit Savannah, and that will all be taken care of.
I've visited Savannah several times--once with some girlfriends when it was all decked out for Christmastime, and a couple more times with the family--and it never disappoints.
(Here is the Mercer House, made famous in the wonderful novel, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil; and Forsythe Park in the middle of the city's wondrous garden block system.)
#2 would be Chicago, Illinois.
I happened upon Chicago when Gary had a spur-of-the-moment business trip planned and the girls and I were able to tag along. Not really sure of what to expect, I ended up falling in love with Chicago's hustle-and-bustle, windy weather, beautiful downtown, and pizza (you didn't think I'd forget that, did you?).
Delaney proudly proclaims Chicago as her favorite city, mostly (I think) because it snowed briskly when we visited, it involved her first airplane trip, and she bravely went to the top of the Sears Tower. My favorite part of the trip was visiting the Chicago Institute of Art, which has the best selection of paintings I've ever seen in one building.
(Here you can see Sear's Tower and downtown, and a gorgeous view of Lake Michigan.)
#1 would, hands-down, be San Antonio, Texas.
My favorite hotel (the Emily Morgan); the best food (Casa Rio is my favorite restaurant there); the best river-running-through-a-city (especially gorgeous at night); the best hallowed ground (as a history freak, the Alamo just takes my breath away); and did I mention the best food?
If you have never been to San Antonio on vacation, run--don't walk--there next Summer or any other chance you get. It's a great city for adults and kids. It's beautiful and delectable and historical and colorful and invigorating (and I'm not just saying that since I'm a native Texan).
(Here's a glimspe of one of the missions on the Mission Trail, getting ready to order at Casa Rio, the Alamo, and the River Walk.)
What cities do you love? Why do you love them? What cities should I put on my traveler's "wish list"?