A few weeks ago, I trekked to Amsterdam with a few friends. As it was my first time in the city, I wanted to see as much as possible. We visited the Van Gogh Museum, had pancakes, and scoured the city for additional recommendations, not easily gleaned from stock travel guides.
One of these suggestions led us to an incredible Indonesian restaurant. As we ate the delicious rice dishes, shared a bottle of wine, and mapped the rest of the evening, the conversation shifted to travel.
“What’re your favorite cities – in Europe and the US?”
Not wanting to answer recklessly, without offering the question its deserved attention, I thought carefully. The United States was easy. I could rattle-off my list of favorite cities without thinking twice: Washington, San Francisco, Chicago, and Philadelphia. Each is unique; each has a distinctive flavor; and each is personally special – for one reason or another.
Europe was more challenging. Florence came to mind first. It’s a gorgeous city with unbelievable food, magnificent art, and picturesque streets. Paris, similarly, brings a history and a culture to the picture, difficult to find elsewhere in the world. Madrid, too, was one of the more memorable cities. No city, however, stood above the rest. Yet, I felt like I was missing something.
We left the restaurant, but the question lingered like a parasite, draining energy as I labored for an answer. Then, like a light bulb in my head, the proper solution arrived – London. Why could I not think of this before? Seven months of my life had been spent there. I currently call it home. And it’s easily my favorite European city. Hence my choosing to study in London. The museums, the culture, the people; I could go on indefinitely.
I’ve grown to love London like a second home, and if asked this question again, I’d produce an answer with much greater ease.