10. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
I didn’t always live in Texas. Philadelphia is in many ways my true hometown. And its a sad thought when I think about how I never visited the city since the time I left it in 2000. When I think of “travel”, I always think back to my childhood in Philly taking field trips to museums, attending symphonies, and learning history. So much of my appreciation for history and culture comes from my time there. So visiting Philly and seeing the transformation it has undergone in the last 18 years was one of the highlights of my year. Center City has certainly rebounded to become one of the nicest places to live and visit in the U.S.
Most Memorable Moment: Standing in the middle of Broad St. (across from City Hall) at sunset wearing a Dallas Cowboys T-Shirt. Talked to a lot of Philadelphians who wanted me to change into an Eagles T-Shirt immediately and send back my Dallas Cowboys shirt to where it came from 🙂 (it was a gift).
9. Hamburg, Germany
When I thought of Hamburg, I always envisioned an industrial port town full of smog expelling factories and large cargo ships leaving. Hamburg is after all the center for the ginormous German export economy. I honestly did not realize the charming nature of this seemingly industrious town until a few years ago when I came upon a few images of the Speicherstadt on 500px. Well the area is actually the largest warehouse district in the world standing purely on timber pile foundations and has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site as of 2015. If you are ever in Berlin, it’s worth making a day trip over to this German city just for to see this remarkable bit of Hanseatic architecture.
Most Memorable Moment: Sunset at the warehouse district followed by people watching at the Hamburg Hauptbahnhof.
8. Zurich, Switzerland
Zurich really should be called the smallest major city in the world. The city itself is only 34 square miles, but boy does it pack a punch for its size (as does the country it is a part of). Zurich is one of the world’s financial capitals and one of Europe’s oldest cities never to see a war. Owing to the Swiss tradition of neutrality and preservation, some of the city’s iconic structures such as the Grossmunster date back to the Middle Ages. Every winter, Zurich plays host to Switzerland’s largest Christmas markets. Most of the extremely walk-able town centre is pretty much transformed into a miniature North Pole exhibit (blog and vlog posts coming very soon).
Most Memorable Moment: Zurich Christmas Markets and walking the Bahnhofstrasse after dark with all the Christmas decorations and lights.
7. Chicago, Illinois
Chicago is America’s second city and only place on Earth (outside of New York and Hong Kong) that can be termed a concrete jungle. Some of my favorite locations for taking in the architectural vistas of the windy city are the Adler Planetarium skyline walk and North Avenue Beach. The rest of the stuff you do in this city you’ve probably seen or heard about 🙂
Most Memorable Moment: Sunrise at the Adler Planetarium skyline walk. I nearly fell into Lake Michigan that morning.
6. Berlin, Germany
I’ve always known the history of the German capital, but the architectural treasures of the city such as the Bode Museum, Brandenburg Gate, and Berliner Dom certainly caught me off guard. Though parts of the city do appear sketchy, you can see the cosmopolitan and rather quirky atmosphere of the city everywhere you go. The architecture is completely varied ranging from the quintessential European style to modern steel and glass. It’s certainly not unusual to find graffiti and all manners of art in Central Berlin.
Most Memorable Moment: A friendly local allowing me to photograph the city at sunset from his apartment balcony (picture seen below).
5. Sydney, Australia
Australia’s largest city doesn’t possess the Victorian street charm of its southern rival Melbourne. However, there’s no ignoring the fact the Sydney Harbor is amongst the world’s most iconic and beautiful. Walks along the Sydney Harbor (near the Opera House) continue to be one of the finest on Earth. It is the perfect place to watch people and the many boats (and cruise ships) that fly by on their various trajectories across the world. It’s hard to put into words the feeling of walking right under the Harbor Bridge and coming upon the iconic Opera House.
Most Memorable Moment: Sunrise Photography @ Milsons Point and Sydney Harbor ferry ride.
4. San Francisco, California
I’ve already mentioned earlier this year how San Francisco is America’s answer to Europe. It’s the perfect blend of American modernism, natural beauty, and architectural ingenuity. There’s no doubt that there are very few cityscapes in America that are as memorable.
Most Memorable Moment: Morning walk along the Sausalito shoreline after experiencing sunrise over the Golden Gate Bridge
3. Bergen, Norway
It’s tough to call a town of only 280,000 a city especially when compared to the likes of San Francisco and Sydney. However, Norway’s second largest town deserves the title ‘city’ given that the entire country’s population is really only 5.3 million. The city’s position on a fjord with its surrounding mountains take its Hanseatic architectural charm to the next level. There is no doubt that it is one of the world’s most photogenic cities. As I said in one my first vlog videos, the city is just a pleasure to shoot at any time of day. Specifically don’t miss out on a waterfront morning walk to have the town all to yourself with its magnificent reflections.
Most Memorable Moment: Morning (Predawn) walk along the Bergen waterfront with all the reflections on the waterways.
2. Lisbon, Portugal
The European version of Frisco just oozes charm with its geographical position on seven hills and its many trams. It has long been one of Europe’s best kept secrets, but that’s changing incredibly fast. Every time I look at Instagram lately, it almost seems like someone I know has gone to Lisbon. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a city with as many viewpoints (called Miradors locally) as Lisbon. There are quaint and affordable cafes everywhere to grab some freshly baked goods and soak in the views. It is quite easily the most affordable city on this list.
Most Memorable Moment: Sunrise at Miradouro das Portas do Sol
1. Venice, Italy
If I were to visit Venice every single year of my life, I’m 100% it would top my list every single time. Venice is something that is beyond anything you can dream of and then some. If you think visiting its minuscule dupe in Vegas does it justice, you are living in a sad reality. I only had 3 days, but I could easily spend an entire year exploring the canals and islands of Venice and still never scratch the surface of the city. You won’t understand the grandeur of it until you visit.
Most Memorable Moment: Seeing Venice for the first time on the ferry from the main ferry terminal “Ferrovia” to Rialto Mercato.