Wednesday, July 16, 2008

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"?

18 comments:

hippochick said...

Hi Cheryl,

I will put "cities" on my list of things to post about. For now, Paris is my #1 favorite city in the world. I think I'll post about Pris alone sometime.

I'm loving these vacation posts.
Fpr now, I'm off to bake a pie for my love.

~hippo hugs~

hippochick said...

Dorry about the typos. This one handed typing is getting pretty old.

Anonymous said...

I'm with hippochick.

These vacation posts are really fun.

Pauline said...

Wonderful places to visit ... some that i would love to go to as well, i work for a company that the owners live in Nacraossi (sp) greece, and when they come to the states they have beautiful pictures and the clear blue beaches. I am stuck in Cali where you can go to the beach the mountain the dessert all in a day!
enjoy vacation!

Kari (GrannySkywalker) said...

Whooo- the Riverwalk in San Antonio...LOVE the Riverwalk. And you're right - at night, it is astoundingly beautiful

I also love Savannah. I'd love to go there with my husband. I think he'd feel the same way about it as I do (and as YOU do, too, apparently). It has to be the most gracious city I've every been to. It just epitomizes southern charm.

Never been to Chicago, but would love to check it out. I've been thru Tuscaloosa, but have never spent much time there and as to college towns, I adore Norman, Oklahoma (home of the SOONERS, of course!). I remember going to see movies at the Heisman Theater - and I worked at Sooner Mall in Norman one summer. Fun town - always something happening.

Can't wait to see your beach pictures when you get back!!

Kari

Cheryl said...

I enjoyed your post today. I live in a small town. We do NOT have a red light or fast food restaurant! And tell McKenna that we do know almost everyone's name. When we are driving we always wave because most of the time it is someone that we know. I sometimes miss the convenience of cities because I lived in Chattanooga once but I really love the country. I have not ventured from our state very far. I would love to visit the cities that you have mentioned in your post. I also love the pictures you posted. Thanks and hope you and your family have a great week!

Cheryl Wray said...

Pam--Well, duh...yes, I want to go to Paris too.I am extremely jealous that you have been. I can imagine that I would just adore it! (Although, it's funny, when McKenna went last summer she liked London--and Oxford--even better). But me? I think I would LOVE Paris.

Pam2--LOL you're excused for the typos!

Anon--Thanks!

Pauline--Oh, the beach in Greece sounds FABULOUS!!! Wouldn't that be a place to visit? I can dream...

Kari--I actually think that Savannah is a much better "grown up" town than for kids. You and your husband would have a wonderful time there! Next time you're driving through Tuscaloosa, you should stop. Since you are a big college football fan, I think you'd love all the stuff there (the campus, the Bear Bryant Museum, etc.)

Cheryl--I love it! And I bet your little town is just wonderful!

hippochick said...

Cheryl,

Don't hate me, but I've been to Paris twice. Funny, I didn't like London all that much. I LOVED Munich though.

Isn't it sad that I may have been in more European cities than good old USA?

Loreluca said...

MAN! Can I be green with envy? Can't remember when was the last time I traveled to the beach (the REAL beach, not a lake beach)
Funny, I haven't traveled very much here in the USA in the 12 years I've been back. i've traveled a lot in Mexico, though. You need to go to Guanajuato, very colonial and historical place in MX (where independence war started). Guadalajara is another vewry beautiful city. And of course, San Luis Potosi, where I grew up. Puerto Vallarta, Puerto Escondido, Cabo San Lucas and Mazatlan are all Mexican beaches you really want to visit, too.
Now, I think I loved Rome and Florence, Venice and definitely Capri. You'll fall in love with Capri! There is a small little town in south Germany (in the Black Forest), called Titisee, you have to go there. Zurich is another gorgeous city. Bruges (belgium) is a city you really want to walk around. Amsterdam is just a jewel (and all those Van Goghs are just AWESOME!) Paris of course is beautiful, although overrated if you ask me. England is nice, but not as charming, I think. Volendam in Holland is another port city you really would love. Austria is beautiful. Salzburg, too, Mozart is everywhere. And, if you are a Christian (and I know you are!) ISRAEL. It's just breath taking. It's just beyond words.
Spain wasn't all that impressive. I like Mexico better than Spain!
Hugs my dear! I'll be here working while you have fun in the sun!!!

Gin said...

Have you ever been to San Francisco? I really like it a lot. And of course, with kids Orlando is one of there favorite cities. i have never been to San Antonio,but have always heard its pretty.

Gin

Corey said...

oh I have to agree. I LOVE San Antonio. Great city! I also love D.C. and of course, since I know it so well...San Francisco. If you can look beyond the dirt and grime of just being a city...it is SO beautiful and chock full of history.
I would LOVE to go to Savannah, or Charlotte, or Charleston, or New Orleans...anywhere in the South is totally apealing to me.
Have fun at the beach!!!
here's two of my favorite beaches:
Tunnels Beach, Kauai, Hawaii and any beach in Medocino, CA

Renee said...

I'm with you on San Antonio.
And New York City. (And Brooklyn).
New Orleans.

Monogram Queen said...

If you love Savannah you definitely need to check out Charleston SC as well.

Boston, MA is another of my favorite places.

I want to travel! Now!

Ms.L said...

First you get me craving the beach,then you get me craving
new cities,lol!
I haven't been to too many BUT of the cities I have been to,I like
Vancouver,BC
Seattle
Some places I need to visit
New Orleans
Montreal
Anywhere in Europe..

Nina Diane said...

you lived in Charlottesville, VA??? why I live just 45 minutes south of there!! As a matter of fact, the kids and I are going up there Sunday, to Scottsville, to float the upper James River! ahhh....laid back on an inner tube.....just floating down the river!

camport said...

Seattle, WA. Hands down, the greatest city I've ever been to.

San Diego was pretty great, too, though I only had two days to form an opinion.

Charleston, SC is the best city, historically, I've ever been in. It's great like Savannah, but in a different way. Surely you've been there! Haven't you? If not, you'd love it.

:)

Dettao said...

You need to visit Fort Worth, Texas to see the stockyards, the zoo, the awesome museums in the cultural district. You can ride the tarantula train to Grapevine and visit historic downtown Grapevine for a day trip. One year (many years ago, Curtis and I were supposed to go to New Orleans on a kidless vacation. His sister was going to spend the week in our house. When a hurricane canceled our plans, we went all of 20 miles to the west, checked into a hotel and spent the week in Fort Worth. There was plenty to do and see and we had a great time.

Dawn Bibbs said...

Wow, you chose some really cool places as your favorites. Sadly, I haven't been many places. And the places I HAVE been, I wouldn't exactly call them favorites.

Now you see why I'm looking forward to the day when Mister M. and I can rent an RV and travel the country. I'll give you my list of favorites then :-).