One of the most storied cities in the world, and home to an empire that helped shaped western civilisation. In many respects, Rome is without comparison. I spent the best part of a week in the Italian capital (and you can read about it in detail here, and my trip to the Vatican, which is not a part of the list, here) and it was one of the most absorbing weeks of my life. The history is unparalleled, the culture fascinating, and the food indescribable (my favourite pizza place was here, not in Naples or New York). I could list at least 10 things in Rome that I absolutely loved, but, with some creative accounting, here are 5 of my favourites.
I originally wrote this list a few years back, but earlier this year I visited Singapore for the second time (you can read about it here). I realised that the things I enjoyed about Singapore had shifted a little, and therefore I probably needed to update this list.
That's exactly what I've done, so read on for my 5 favourite things about Singapore
It's difficult to do justice to a city as spectacular as Naples. It has a raw beauty that is refreshingly unique in an increasingly homogenised Europe. A city that combines traditional architecture with modern skyscrapers almost seamlessly. I'll never forget arriving into Naples and seeing scooters piling on top of each other, street vendors covering the pavements, the smell of food from road side stalls and shops floating over the cobble stoned streets. From history to food, to insta-worthy landmarks, Naples is a city that has it all. You can read my detailed observations of the city here, but below are my 5 favourite things about Naples.
I lived and worked in New York City and found it was unlike anywhere else in the world. And, without a doubt, Manhattan is NYC's beating heart.
The cool thing about Manhattan is that it's split into a number of neighbourhoods, each with its own unique character. The differences between Chinatown, the Financial District, TriBeCa and SoHo are incredible, even though you could walk through each of them one after the other.
Given these differences, I decided that during my time in New York, I would visit every part of Manhattan and then pick some things I really enjoyed. Since my return, friends have been asking for my tips, so I thought I'd share this more widely. This list shows one thing to do in every Manhattan neighbourhood, with the neighbourhoods defined by the city's own political map.
It consistently ranks as one of the most visited cities in the world, and has a history that spans over two thousand years. It has been home to innovations, inventions and revolutions and in the middle of the previous millennium it was the largest city in the world.
Paris is so much more than the romanticism that its name conjures, its history includes episodes as violent as any other city and all these events have left their unique mark on France's capital city.
It's also one of the closest capital cities to where I live, a short train ride away, but it's perhaps because of this proximity that I often overlook it for other destinations. My trip last year was to visit friends that I worked with previously, and their knowledge of the city allowed me to see a side of Paris I may have otherwise have missed.
There's a lot that I enjoyed (food, culture, history) and some things that I didn't, but here is a list of 5 things I absolutely loved.
The High-Rise City
Chicago might be the birthplace of the skyscraper, but New York City is undoubtedly its home. A combination of inventions, and a Great Fire, gave the skyscraper the impetus to become the building that dominates most major city skylines around the world, and for New York, skyscraper fever began in 1890 when the World Building overtook Trinity Church, a building that had been the city's tallest for over a century.
Since then, New York has seen three different skyscraper booms: 1890 - 1930, 1960-1972 and finally the current boom that began with One World Trade Center. Most of these 200+ skyscrapers are located either in the financial district or Midtown. As mentioned in previous articles, New York hasn't (at least until very recently), taken building preservation very seriously so very few of the earliest skyscrapers exist. In fact, some skyscrapers stood for a matter of years, only to be replaced by taller buildings in their very spot.
I'm sure everyone has their favourite skyscraper in NYC, here is a list of my top 10.
The New York Pizza
Ever since Gennaro Lombardi opened the first pizzeria in the United States in the Little Italy neighbourhood of New York City, the New York style of pizza has grown into a global phenomenon unique in its flavour, detached from its Neapolitan origins.
From that first pizza place in 1905, the city now has close to 500 pizzeria's operating in the city. So what makes New York pizza so different? Firstly, there's a standardised size, 18 inches in diameter, secondly it uses a high gluten type of bread. I've tasted pizza in many parts of the world, but the New York style is definitely one of my favourites, in fact, I had a boss who would come from Washington DC, just for the pizza! So what else could make New York pizza so special? Some say its the evolution of the pizza through Gennaro Lombardi (many successful NYC pizzeria's can trace their origins directly to his pizza place), others say its the unique concentration of minerals in New York's famously high quality tap water.
Whatever the reason, you are never more than a couple of blocks from a good pizza place, and during my time in New York, I made it a mission to visit some of the best pizzeria's the city has to offer. After all of that, here are, in my opinion, the 5 best pizza places in New York City.
Lessons from the Big Apple
It's been over a month since I've made the move to New York and it's beginning to feel like home. I've spent the first month exploring different parts of the city, doing the usual tourist things and trying to see a few things not on the trip advisor lists. Between my colleagues at work who have been incredibly welcoming and new people I have met in the city, I have managed to travel to a few different areas and see a few different things.
I've also taken long walks on my own to orientate myself in the city. I did a 15 mile walk one weekend and close to a 10 mile walk on another weekend and I feel like I finally have my bearings. I've only been to Brooklyn a couple of times and Harlem once and I'm yet to see any American sports. As I'm roughly 6/7 weeks into my stay, I'll probably update this list a couple of times as I see new things and explore new places.
What's it like for Sikhs?
Its not that bad at all...so far at least. Colleagues and other locals I meet do tend to ask me if I've had any trouble and sometimes seem quite surprised when I say no. Perhaps its the post Trump coming together that I've seen in New York but the locals are very welcoming. I didn't have any trouble coming into the airport from London, but I'll reserve judgement on that until I've flown a couple of times. Anytime that I meet up with new people, they are curious and open-minded, they ask questions about my long hair, and almost always seem surprised and pleased with the answer. People just generally seem to be very respectful.
There aren't as many Singh's walking around Manhattan as you'd see in central London and no where near as many as the Midlands but I've seen one or two. Surprisingly, it doesnt look like the Singh head nod has reached New York yet. Only a matter of time.
Since the fall of the Iron Curtain, Prague has become an increasingly popular tourist destination, especially amongst stag do's and it was for this reason that I went to the Czech capital with about 20 other brown guys. Whilst Prague is used to bachelor parties, turns out, it isn't so used to brown people. Not that I had any trouble out there, but it was a weekend full of curious looks.
Unlike most other large cities on the European mainland, Prague escaped much of the fighting that destroyed other cities during the two world wars, and therefore it retains a lot of its historic architecture. Beautiful buildings from different periods in different styles that tell the story of the growth of this city, from a small settlement into the large metropolis that it is today.
There's a lot to love about this city, and here are my 5 favourite things about Prague.
I don't usually visit the same place twice, but three trips later, I would still happily go back to Barcelona.
I love absolutely every part of this amazing mediterranean city; from the crowded streets of the Gothic Quarter, to the open spaces of Park Guell. I love the fiercely independent catalan culture that reminds me so much of Panjab and the welcoming nature of the locals. In fact, it was a visit to a local Gurdwara where the Giani (Priest) told me the local community was very supportive of Sikhs within Barcelona.
I had a couple of short trips that were stag parties for my friends and a longer more extended stay where I attended a summer school at the Barcelona Graduate School of Economics. Each trip allowed me to see a different side to the city.
Out of all the places I have been to, this was perhaps the most difficult to whittle down to just 5 things I loved, but here are my 5 favourite things in Barcelona.
British Sikh, born in the Midlands, based in London, travelling the world seeing new cultures.