It's frequently called the capital city of Europe due to the presence of many EU institutions, Brussels is a city that punches above its weight. After all, it's a medium sized city in one of Europe's smaller nations.
I spent a few days in Brussels thanks to a work trip and I have mixed feelings. Rampant homelessness, a lack of greenery and some drab looking buildings are balanced by good food, and a central plaza that ranks among the best I have seen. You can read my details notes from Brussels here, but read on for the 5 things I loved Brussels.
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.
Segregation, provocative marches and murals, relative deprivation and not a lot of brown people. You'd think I would have hated my time in Belfast, but I didn't. It's probably the most interesting city in the UK - and yes that includes London. Not for the landmarks it has, or the things you can do - but to study and understand the effects of two groups of people who live in close proximity but who couldn't be more different in their world views. You can read my in depth review of Belfast here, but below are the 5 things I loved about Belfast.
Up until K-pop crossed the mainstream and spawned a whole youth culture in the west, I'm not sure Seoul was at the top of many people's lists. A long way from home, and surrounded by famous cities like Hong Kong, Tokyo, Shanghai, Beijing and Hanoi - Seoul was an afterthought. However, it's recently become the 9th most visited city in the world. I decided to spend a week and find out for myself just what makes Seoul so interesting. You can read by detailed review here, but here's 5 things I loved about Seoul.
Once upon a time, Hong Kong was nothing more than a small fishing village, a colonial outpost of the British Empire. You wouldn't think that seeing it today. A thriving financial centre, Hong Kong is one of the global cities. It's loud, chaotic, smelly, cramped - and I absolutely loved it. It was tough getting this list down to just 5 I loved about Hong Kong, so you can read my full review of Hong Kong here, but I've given it a go.
Lisbon has been a city I've wanted to visit for a long time and I finally got the chance as part of a stag do for one of my oldest friends. The city has an incredible history, and was at one point the seat of the most powerful empires in the world, but more recently the city has fallen on tougher economic times. Swallowed up my an earthquake in the 18th century, and outcompeted by other nations since the Industrial Revolution, Lisbon has weathered the storm and remains an important European city - the most western capital in Europe. You can read about my trip in more detail here, but here are 5 things I loved about Lisbon.
This is the third time I'm writing an end of year review, and it's always nice to have a look back on the places I've been lucky enough to visit.
You can read my end of year review for 2017 here.
You can read my end of year review for 2016 here.
For the first time, I didn't do an extended trip, but instead took a large number of smaller trips to cities in Europe, Asia and North America.
I kicked off the year in Italy, visiting Rome (including a quick stop in the Vatican), Naples, Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast. I then went to Asia where I returned to Singapore after 5 years. I then experienced a personal highlight exploring Kuala Lumpur and the nearby Batu Caves. It was back to Europe as I visited Vienna, Frankfurt and Zurich in quick succession. I then had a change of pace as I climbed the 'Rock' during my time in Gibraltar. I finally got to visit a city I've wanted to see for a long time when I made the trip to Berlin. As summer turned to autumn I returned to Amsterdam before ending the year with short trips to New York and Edinburgh.
As with the posts the last two years, you can click any of the blue links to read in depth reviews of each location.
When I make a list of my favourite cities in the world, you can bet that Edinburgh will feature somewhere on it. An often overlooked destination in the UK, Edinburgh has history, culture, creative energy and it's the perfect size to explore in a short amount of time. Perhaps best of all, it's one of the most beautiful cities that I have had the privilege of visiting, thanks to its almost uniform Georgian architecture. You can read detailed notes about my visit to the Scottish capital here, but here are the 5 things I most loved about Edinburgh.
Lately it seems as if Berlin is the coolest capital in Europe, and it's not hard to see why. A youthful energy, a creative spirit, reasonable prices, and one of the best nightlifes of any European city has seen an increasing number of people visit the German capital. But it hasn't always been this way. For much of the 20th century, Berlin was a city politically divided. I don't mean in the way the UK is divided between pro and anti-Brexit movements, or the US is divided between progressives and conservatives - but actually physically divided by a wall, with two philosophies so different, it would make UKIP and the Labour Party look similar. The city has rebounded incredibly well since those days, and is now one of the most 'must visit' places in Europe. You can read my detailed review of Berlin here, but below are 5 things I loved about Berlin.
I've wanted to visit Vienna for a long time. It's an often overlooked city, but it's one that is thought of as a quintessentially European city - regularly topping the rankings of the most liveable cities in the world. I finally understood at least some of the hype when I visited. The city is incredibly beautiful - the architecture, the history, the culture - there aren't too many places in the world I've visited more aesthetically pleasing than Vienna. However, as a brown person, be ready for stares. These guys don't have too many Sikhs (I saw one!), and they have a tendency to stare...a lot. Other than that, I'd be hard pressed to say too many bad things about the city. You can read my detailed review of the city here, but here are the 5 things I most loved about Vienna.
British Sikh, born in the Midlands, based in London, travelling the world seeing new cultures.