This Marie, On the slate placed on the wall of my kitchen, a sentence is written: We will travel again . This is what I have been clinging to for a year, this phrase that I repeat to myself like a mantra. Yes, we will travel again someday.
While waiting for the effects of the pandemic to wear off, I chat with fellow travelers, I read books that transport me elsewhere and I look at my travel photo albums, which have become real treasures.
Here are the 10 cities that I particularly miss.
I made friends over time and my visits to this city, which never ceases to surprise and stimulate me.
I saw sumo fights there, I gathered in its temples and shrines, I strolled in its parks, I ate the best sushi on Earth, I drank beers with friends in real izakayas, I celebrated Halloween in the heart of Shibuya, I was blown away by the signs and music of the electronic district of Akihabara and I felt pleasantly on another planet in the youth district of ‘Harajuku.
I would go back tomorrow morning, knowing that I would still have so much to discover there.
Prague, Czech Republic
I have a very dear friend from Prague, who made a point of showing me his city far from the hyper tourist districts.
I spent a month there finalizing my book Cafeine, places and artisans here , writing in the warmest cafes and living like the inhabitants of the city. I miss its rich history, its architecture, but also its penchant for arts and culture, almost as much as its beer gardens and its crowded parks as soon as the sun comes out.
As for the people of Prague, I now know that behind their faces, which can often seem impassive, are smiles that beg to be gently extracted.
If there is one city dear to my heart, it is London.
If I chose it as my host city for 2 years, when I was 18 and dreamed of living elsewhere, it is to her that I owe my insatiable thirst for travel and discovery. I miss her energy, fiery, openness and liveliness as much as I miss her hip neighborhoods – oh Camden Town! – and the encounters I made there that literally changed my life.
If this city is known for its neighborhoods and monuments that have marked history, it is rather its trendy, young and hipster side that charmed me; enough to make me want to live there one day (who knows ?!)
In the Balat district, independent cafes, restaurants and bars line the streets with walls covered with street art. More and more tourists are heading to the colorful Karaköy district, in order to experience the “real” Istanbul of trendy young people.
Then there is the gourmet, cultural and lively Kadiköy district, drawn up on the Asian side of the city, where you immerse yourself in an Istanbul resolutely turned towards modernity.
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Fortunately, one of the most expensive cities I have ever visited is also one of the ones that charmed me the most. Copenhagen, with its concern for the environment and nature, and its dozens of independent cafes, could not but please me!
I discovered its must-see neighborhoods and monuments by bike (awh, the Nyhavn canal and its typical and colorful Dutch-style houses, the little mermaid, the Tivoli gardens and the castles!) I also traveled its canals by boat solar-powered, before going to spend an afternoon full of sunshine in the “free city” of Christiania, a marginal neighborhood as possible, self-proclaimed “free city”, where almost all freedoms seem allowed.
I have often said that I will move to Germany tomorrow morning, and I still think so. Having traveled there many times, if I had to choose a city to spend a moment, I would probably opt for the beautiful Munich.
I love it for a multitude of reasons: its sense of celebration (hello Oktoberfest, large sunny terraces of beer gardens and beer culture!), Its penchant for all things gourmet, its Gothic architecture (my favorite, and what a beauty than that of the town hall!) and the museums of this city steeped in culture, sailing between modernity and traditions.
I have always found this magnificent city to be known and recognized for the wrong reasons. While it’s true that it’s worth seeing the infamous Red Light District once in a lifetime, Amsterdam has so much more to offer.
We discover it by bike imagining ourselves to be one of its inhabitants and we extend the discovery beyond the historic center. We go for a stroll in the magnificent Vondelpark (the most beautiful green space in the “Venice of the North”). We take all the time it takes to understand what the young Anne Frank may have experienced when visiting the house where she was hidden from the Nazis. And, why not, we rent a nice room on a barge so that we can then tell that we slept on one of Amsterdam’s famous canals.
All of Greenland and the Arctic
If I have been to the Arctic twice, I am doubly grateful to life for giving me these priceless gifts!
I was able to sail the icy and sometimes turbulent waters of the Baffin Sea, one of the most beautiful places on the planet. Expedition boats then allowed me round trips and hiking on wild and almost unexplored lands. I don’t think I’ll ever get over these two trips around the Arctic Circle!
From Greenland, I retain the point of view from the plane on the snow-capped mountains of Kangerlussuaq, the immensity of the ice fjord of Ilulissat and the active glacier Sermeq Kujalleq, the small Danish town of Sisimiut, this polar plunge (a tradition on our ship) in the refrigerated waters of the famous Store Glacier and Karrat Island and Fjord. The latter was immediately classified, in my heart and in my head, as the most beautiful place that I have been given to admire in my life as a traveler.
Hoi An, Vietnam
When I miss Vietnam – its often bustling, intense and noisy cities – it is especially the city of Hoi An that I think of.
A very touristy city, of course, but a place imbued with gentleness and calm, despite its certain agitation. I remember with happiness having rented an old bike to pedal in its famous old town (superb with its hundreds of colorful lanterns), on its canals and its Japanese covered bridge, then to discover its monuments combining various styles and eras.
Anchorage and surrounding areas of Denali, Alaska
I loved everything about Alaska, which I dreamed of since I was little!
The mountains seem to have been painted at the bottom of a sky bluer than blue, the wild life which takes its rightful place, the glaciers and icebergs which one contemplates from just close enough, the hikes in the landscapes leaving the breathtaking breath of the famous Denali National Park, the Cessna ride over the highest mountain in North America, then by helicopter to go dog sledding on a real glacier. There was also the warmth of the proud locals – and with good reason! – from their perfect corner of the country.