The 5 Most Beautiful Cities I Visited in 2019

2019 was not a big travel year for me by any means. It was especially small with regard to cities. Throughout the year I visited only 4 cities outside of Dallas with populations above a million people. 

Now is a good time as ever to explain why I haven’t written or traveled as much this year (fell free to skip this):

My grandfather was undergoing chemotherapy throughout the greater part of the year. Having grown up with my grandparents for vast spans of my teenage years, it was very important that I stay with them throughout this time. I’m not really the type of person that talks about myself very much or gets emotional at all really. However, I just thought I owed my readers an explanation on why I’ve been away from this blog so much. All I can say is that I’m hoping I can write and perhaps travel with a bit more regularity in 2020.

Anyway circumstantially, a list of 10 cities in 2018 shrunk to just 5 cities for 2019. Without further ado here are my favorite cities from 2019:

5. Hyderabad

Hyderabad is the 5th largest city in India and the capital of the southern state of Telangana. The city is by no means beautiful in the traditional sense (no city in India really is), but it’s hard to deny the insane level of colors and contrasts that exist in any single scene.  Nowhere else will you see so many people from such varied walks of life  in one place. Hyderabad also has the unique status of being the only major Indian city with roughly equal sized Hindu and Muslim populations.  Due to the cosmopolitan nature of the city, the sights, sounds, even smells of Hyderabad are indubitably special.

A quick comment: India has lately been getting a lot of bad rap in the media due to various incidents, most disgustingly: the recent acts of violence against women. While not enough has been done in response to these acts by the government, the country as a whole remains fairly safe for foreigners and even solo female travelers. It is extremely unfortunate that women have to exercise such constant vigilance, but change seems to be on the horizon. On the other hand, women are afforded some privileges for these circumstances including individual lines for tickets, and separate areas on public transport. I will never claim to be an expert on solo travel as female in India so please do your research.

Here are my tips: Don’t go out after dark, use hotel vehicles for transport to/from airports and far off destinations, and stick to the crowded places during the day.

4. Alesund

It’s difficult to place Alesund among the most beautiful “cities” I visited in 2019 because the city hardly has 50,000 inhabitants, but that’s really the extent of my urban exploration this year. I only visited 4 cities with over a million people and it’s hard to justify one on my list as beautiful without being in my shoes. Alesund’s Art Nouveau style of architecture is a thing of a beauty especially when considered in the context of the city being situated on tens of islands interlinked with bridges and canals. I’ll admit that there isn’t much to do in Alesund outside admiring the town’s quaint nature, but if a trip to the fjords on the cards for you, Alesund is a great launch point.

Most Memorable Moment: Watching sunsets at Aksla View Point, where you can get a near 360 degree view of the the region.

3. Prague

Prague’s Old Town is the finest example of Gothic architecture dating back to the Medieval Era. Much like Stockholm, Prague was largely unaffected by the Allied bombings of the European continent leaving much of its cityscape intact. One glance and you won’t doubt the city’s nickname: “the City of a Hundred Spires.”

Prague is a European city undoubtedly belongs on everybody’s travel bucket list and that’s precisely its only problem. The Center of Prague (basically the area around Charles Bridge) by day is perhaps one of the most crowded places on Earth. We visited during the peak of summer, and it felt more like navigating the throngs of people trying to take a selfie rather than exploring the age old streets.

Most Memorable Moment: Wandering the empty streets of Prague after midnight and enjoying the small alleyways and cobblestone streets under the moonlight.

2. New York City

2018 was perhaps the first year in the last decade that I had not visited New York City. This is city that changes within a matter of days let alone a year. And so given the 15 month gap between visits, I was arriving in a completely new city. New York is one a few cities in the world where you can spend years and never quite scratch the surface of it. The city is full of life with its many museums, art galleries, restaurants, districts, and forms of architecture. Quite frankly the city doesn’t require any rant or introduction.

Most Memorable Moment: 

Our stay in the King Suite at the Hotel Indigo Lower East Side featured a balcony with a 180 degree view of Manhattan which included both Downtown and Midtown Manhattan.

1. Stockholm

No I didn’t go to Stockholm to pick up my Nobel Prize, but I did visit the Swedish capital to fika, photograph medieval architecture, and fish my bike out of the Baltic Sea (more on that later). Untarnished by the World Wars that rocked Europe in the early 20th century, Stockholm’s old town (the Gamla Stan) maybe one of the last large concentration of medieval structures on the continent. Exploring the city was easy with no crowds, cheap public transportation, and bike lanes everywhere. Stockholm is also one of the major centers for design and fashion. The people are ridiculously well dressed and the store displays inspire you to have those designs shipped immediately to your home. I literally had to be dragged away from some of the store windows by my sister. We visited during the summer when daylight hardly wanes and golden hour lasts far too long. It’s more time to explore the city, but enough time to drive me crazy as a photographer.

Most Memorable Moment:

My sister knocked my bike into the shallows of the Baltic Sea by accident. With the help of some locals we managed to fish it out with some shoe laces and a hook. Way to put an exclamation point on our visit 🙂

BTW: All of these images are my own (so copyright applies). Follow all my adventures and check out more of my photography on Instagram. A follow would definitely be appreciated.

 

2 Comments

  1. Hi Teja. I hope your grandfather is well and that you and your family are well too. Here’s to a 2020 full of wellness, exploration, and great experiences all around. Your photos are post-card perfect. By the way, do you have any plans to be in Japan around the Olympics?

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