In a spin-off to my post about When One Path Isn’t Good Enough, as well as other times it’s been mentioned in a variety of posts, I wanted to delve deeper into travel. Or more accurately: the cities I’ve mentioned I could see myself living in. For those who’ve been around this block, you know how I’m sort of the travel-less traveler – someone who loves traveling but hasn’t done much of it. Not that I haven’t tried, however life and it’s curveballs often kept me from doing what I want to do so badly. Many of you can relate.
Another thing you might relate to is that feeling in your heart upon discovery of a destination. Have you ever seen a place – whether in a book, on TV, Youtube, etc. – and something deep inside tells you that you would really enjoy that place? As if you’ve been there before or belong there. It’s different than someone randomly visiting a place and thinking “Eh, it’s not too bad.”, or another moving for a job and choosing that city because it at least had some of their needs. This is a place you may or may not have been to, and in your heart it’s like you discovered your second home. The home away from home.
Ever since I was a teenager, I have had such feelings when it came to a particular city. But as I got older, much like everyone else, you learn more about yourself. The interests and needs adapt along the way, and so that list of places I can see myself enjoying and thriving in adapted as well. Just like many of you, it’s not that I hate or dislike my current home, but I don’t feel bound to it. There’s opportunities across the globe, so why limit yourself to your city limits unless you’ve already found your home or are worried about leaving what you’re familiar with? If things don’t work out, one can always try to go back which is some reassurance there.
While I have looked for jobs in these cities, job opportunities and cost of living won’t be discussed in this post as reasons for wanting to go there. On that same note, this post won’t focus on other factors such as laws/politics and economics either. No matter what city we live in, there’s pros and cons to each. And too often do people either become enamored by the pros and ignore the cons, or repulsed by the cons and not focus on any pros while living there. I feel I would find the right balance, but always do your research in-depth for the city/cities you might be interested in moving to. This post will be a light-hearted journey that not only shows what about these cities I like, but also the story behind them and how my interest began and grew from there. So without further ado, let’s travel. . .
We start off with London and, honestly, this one was never a prominent “I must move here now!” kind of city. It was always a stealthy one that followed me, as I realized when I look back on my life now. It started back when I was a kid when a certain series became a global phenomenon. Yes, I’m talking about the Harry Potter series. Whether books or movies, I was obsessed with it but I have it more under control now that I’m older. I think. Anyway, I never thought of moving to London as a kid or teen but I thought it was cool being mentioned in the novels. I remember watching The Sorcerer’s Stone as a kid while I rode on a train to the capital. I felt like I was on the Hogwarts Express making my way to the school or, in a sense, London.
That was when I was first made aware of the city. However, my interest in it grew more while I was in college. When I went to university, I had more things on hand because it was necessary for classes; such as laptops and tablets. These things weren’t really needed during high school, and if they were I was usually taken to the public library on the weekends to do my work. Now that I had the world at my fingertips at home, I was able to connect with my friends on Facebook and explore YouTube. One of my many YouTube discoveries came in the form of Jim Chapman. I don’t know how I stumbled upon his channel, but it might have to do with him and his crew of friends being quite popular back then. Nowadays, they sort of just vanished and are doing their own things. But back then, I loved watching Jim’s vlogs of his adventures in London.
During my time at university, all I did was go to class, work on campus, and go home to do homework. Rinse and repeat. I didn’t have, or make, time to join clubs or groups. Any free time I had during the week was wasted at the student center where I lounged. Keep in mind, this was before I lost weight and became more involved with the city and globe. When it came to friends, none of my best friends went to that university (one did but he transferred to a different one several hours away) and any “friends” made at school were only temporary as I didn’t keep any once I graduated. Truth was, I was kind of alone during my time in college. I was still coming out of my shell slowly during those four years, but I had Jim and his friends. Their adventures usually made me feel better, especially when times were tough.
And through those videos, I saw more of London and it’s uniqueness. The different sites, the little stores, the variety of people and more I found interesting. Over time, I slowly stopped watching those videos and started doing my own thing. Then one day I came across football and the EPL. As the U.S. started introducing the #1 global sport to us, it started with a few matches on Saturdays featuring EPL teams. I liked football (soccer), but it was typically during the World Cup seasons. We never had consistent showings of it, only until a few years ago on TV. Soon my interest grew and grew, and I eventually picked up on names of players and chose my favorite teams. What started in the EPL then expanded to other countries and their leagues, but there’s a special place for that first league I saw.
While football opened more doors of England, I went beyond that and learned more about the cities that owned clubs. From Liverpool to Manchester, Leicester to Swansea, and Norwich to Chelsea I learned bits and pieces of the towns that lay close to London. I say close, because I live in a huge(!) state so what may seem long distance for most Europeans is small compared to a drive across my state; roughly 14 hours driving from one end to the other both ways in case you’re wondering. Speaking of close proximity, the other thing about London is that it’s not only a “central hub” to England but to other countries as well. No matter which direction one goes, it’s not too bad of a distance to reach other interesting places: Dublin, Edinburgh, Paris, Brussels, and Amsterdam. There’s also Germany, Switzerland, and the south of France with a little bit of extra traveling. So with it being close to other major cities, attractions big and small within the city, diverse people coming and going, and more make London one of the places I can see myself living in. . . and it’s not only to be closer to Hogwarts.
The most recent on the list probably had the longest origin out of all the cities mentioned here. In my elementary school, I was a pretty bright kid. And getting enough high grades caught the eye of an organization, which offered an opportunity for me to travel to Australia with other bright kids to explore and learn. We would’ve done things like go to the Sydney Opera House and scuba dive in the Great Barrier Reef. I was excited about the opportunity to do this once in a lifetime thing. My parents on the other hand rejected this idea.
Part of the reason was due to money, and the other was their fear of sending me off on my own with people I don’t know. Even if one of them could join me, I don’t think they would’ve been able to at that moment in time. So Sydney and the rest of the Down Under laid dormant in the back of my mind. Not even Finding Nemo strongly renewed my interest. Little things here and there on TV would keep me aware of the place. Whether it was the wildlife (I love koalas), attractions such as the Sydney Harbour Bridge climbs, or people from there. Several years ago, my favorite basketball team had a collection of international players and two of them came from that side of the globe. One was from Australia, while the other was from New Zealand. The idea of people coming to a different part of the world, for one reason or another, really struck a chord inside and I wanted to do the same.
As I got older, and less lethargic, I became more interested in the outdoors. Whether in the woods, up mountains, or by the sea I wanted to immerse myself in it. And Australia was a good example of it. Sure, I could also say New Zealand is a place I can see myself living in – especially since I’m a LotR fan – but I felt like it’d be jumping on the bandwagon. So many “influencers” or people my age tend to go there, that I didn’t want to do what everyone else was doing. I also feel like Sydney would have more to offer me in terms of fulfilling my needs. This is in regards to nature/urban opportunities and socializing. However, like London being close to other countries, Sydney’s neighbors are places I would love to see one day. New Zealand has already been mentioned, but I would enjoy visiting Japan; both modern and historic parts of it. It can get hot Down Under, but it’s something I’m familiar with here as well. The nice blend of urban and outdoors on this side of the world would suit me fine, but there’s a place back in the U.S. that brings it’s own natural charm.
Could I have said Denver? Sure. How about Colorado Springs? Yup. Fort Collins, Boulder, Greeley? You name it, and I’ve more than likely attempted to find jobs there. While Denver might be the “unofficial” city on this list, Colorado as a whole would be a place I can see myself exploring and enjoying. Much like Sydney, it’s a good blend of the outdoors and urban lifestyles. While it might be more known for it’s nature scenes, the urban aspect is growing more and more as people are starting to discover and move there.
The origins of this are probably the murkiest, as it could stem from numerous things. I know I first heard of Colorado as a kid through Dumb & Dumber, which is still one of my favorite movies to re-watch. After that, many years would pass and I’d never stumble upon that state again unless it was in the news for something. Then I believe one day I saw a post of an old classmate moving there, and seeing the adventurous photos out in the woods caught my eye. This was most likely around the same time my interests expanded beyond the realms of indoor videogames, and into wanting to see the wonders of the world.
Then I made a good friend in grad school; who spent years in Colorado and was a sports fan of a few Colorado teams. Sports is a common theme in this post, as you will see more of it further below. While I might not ever be a true fan of those teams there, to be able to attend and immerse myself in the experience is what I’d really love. And that’s anywhere I go, which stems into a mini-tangent of the size of a city.
While I talk as if I can live out in nature 24/7, the truth is that I also need some sort of urban life to compliment it. With London, there’s the huge urban sector to go with the natural scenes throughout England. And if that’s not enough, there will definitely be some nearby in Ireland and Scotland. With New Zealand, I know there’s some urban life, but you never really hear about it beyond Auckland. Without a doubt, I’d enjoy the natural beauty there but I can always visit it coming over from Sydney. Meanwhile in Sydney, there can also be trips over to Melbourne, Brisbane, and Perth. If I live in a pretty big city, then I will be good when it comes to things to do. If it’s a smaller city, then having other cities close by allows for further exploration of neighbors that have different sites and experiences. The cities I named in Colorado are not so big, but most are not too far apart either. Remember, it’s relative to where I live where the big cities are at least 4 hours apart from each other. Driving is no big deal to me.
And next door to Colorado, there are other cool cities to check out including: Salt Lake City, Santa Fe, and Albuquerque. A little further and there’s Phoenix, Tucson, and Las Vegas. The surrounding areas are another important factor to me, as I don’t look purely at the city by itself. You can live in a neat city but if there’s literally nothing to do outside of it, and the nearest cool thing is like 6 hours from there, it can get boring real quick. I can definitely do small towns, at times I even prefer it, but I know some small towns that are close to other towns or big cities. Those are ideal, but small towns out in the middle of nowhere? It’d be hard for me to do so, unless I’m desiring to be kind of alone. As I mentioned, I want to immerse myself in everything that is offered; not just sports. I’m talking about the food scene, the concerts, arts & entertainment, cultural festivals, and more that can come with smaller towns too. But again, if it’s a place with not much to do, besides nature, with folks who are a bit ho-hum, then I do not see myself staying long.
With Colorado, you obviously have the nature whether it’s the Rocky Mountains, the forests, and such. The big city in Denver, and the smaller cities that still are close by with things to do, are there. As well as the amazing weather, that may get a bit cold during winter, but as a cold-weather lover I’m up for some even colder temperatures. If you were to ask me, though, if this is the top place in the U.S. that I want to go to then my response would be no.
This is my number one place in the U.S. that I would move to if I could; believe me I’ve tried plenty of times. This is the particular city, I mentioned at the start of this post, that I wanted to go to since I was a teenager. Once again, sports may have been the origin story as to how I found out about it, but it wasn’t the reason why I wanted to go as a teen.
As a kid, I wasn’t into sports at all. I only learned about American football, because they would air Notre Dame football games on Saturdays. They would be the first team I ever knew about. But one day, I heard a tale about a man being asked to leave a baseball stadium because he brought his goat with him. The year was 1945, and on that day a curse was placed on that team. They would never win the title since then. . . until 2016 happened. That was the year the Chicago Cubs baseball team finally broke the curse of the Billy Goat. I didn’t know what baseball was as a kid, but hearing that haunting tale made me a fan of that team and hoped one day they would be able to overcome the odds.
I remember that night they won, I stayed up late into the evening, texting a friend from grad school who was from Chicago and loved the team too. I may have been tired for work the following day, but it was totally worth it to see them win. I had only wished I could’ve been there in Chicago to celebrate with other locals. Just like I wish I was there in 2009 to see the Chicago Blackhawks hockey team win the Stanley Cup. It was back around 2006 when I really started getting into sports, which helped a lot with me fitting in at the high school I went to. Nevertheless, my experience in high school was not fun and at times very sad.
The real reason why Chicago was my choice as a teen was because I wanted to run off to the Windy City. My high school and teenage years were not the best times in my life, and I really wanted to break free when I was 18 years old. Besides being a fan of many of their sports teams, and loving the cold weather, I would see Chicago on many TV shows and think how awesome it is there. Shows like The Crazy Ones, Happy Endings, The League, The Good Wife, According to Jim and Chicago Fire/PD/Med all took place there. The places and adventures that were had there appealed to me so much that I felt I belonged there. I kept imagining living in a flat that was close to the trains that passed through the city; hearing the sound it makes clattering along the tracks.
Eventually life got better, as I made my way through college and headed towards grad school. Yet the thought of that city never left my mind. There was one conversation during those four years at university, where 4 of my friends and I had a chat at a local Sonic restaurant. Somehow we talked about life in the future and if we saw ourselves staying in one place. Only one said he’d stay here, while the rest of us tossed out places like Miami, Dallas, Los Angeles, and (of course) Chicago. While a few have changed their views and altered cities, my friends will tell you Chicago is still synonymous with me. The only exception is New York, but that’s mainly if it pertains to basketball.
Anyway, while life has improved, I still find myself drawn to go there. So much so that, it’s embarrassing to admit, I get a little envious when I see people planning to go or are in Chicago on a trip. I would love to go see the Bean, Wrigley Field, and the numerous museums. I’m dying to taste authentic Chicago deep dish pizza, and attend every sporting event there. There’s strong arts and entertainment, and all sorts of other festivals and cultural events due to how big and diverse the city is. It’s also relatable that both my city, and Chicago, have a river flowing through the streets so in a way a piece of home will follow. And while I like to go for a run by a small lake, it’d be massively upgraded with Lake Michigan right there by the city.
And, again, the proximity to other places is an added bonus. Nearby are cities such as: Milwaukee, South Bend (Notre Dame University), Indianapolis, and Detroit. A little further out you have Louisville, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Cleveland and Pittsburgh. I’d be a lot closer to the northeastern states, like New York and Pennsylvania, that feature popular cities all close by to each other. As someone who enjoys road tripping, for fun and not for business, there’s numerous adventures to be had that stems from the Midway. Meanwhile, the city itself has everything I could ever need except for an ocean, which is fine as the lake is big enough to make up for it. From music to sports to art and culture, it’d be hard to top it in the U.S.. However, there’s one other city in the world that I’ve stumbled upon at an early age that has also vied to be top city to move to. And this ones lies over in Europe once more.
If Chicago was #1 in the States for me to move to, Barcelona would be #1 across the rest of the world I have been very eager to go visit. This selection occurred close around the same time Chicago came along in high school, but I never took this one as seriously because I had no idea how I’d ever go abroad. As an 18 year old with next to nothing in his pockets, my options were limited. However as time passed, Barcelona still remains the top city, but Spain as a whole blurs into it. Similar to Colorado, there’s not just one city but several that offer unique opportunities. There’s Madrid, Seville, Bilbao, Valencia, Ibiza and more to explore across the country. But it all started with Barcelona.
Did it start with seeing it on travel shows? Maybe. Was it due to the World Cup and the discovery of Messi? Probably. Whatever was the initial reason, my curiosity peaked and I began to research. From reading travel books, to looking at photos online, to watching more travel shows in Spain I could not get enough. I remember my old laptop during university had a background image of a Barcelona beach coast at sunset. A part of me dreamed of owning a house there. Yes, watching Messi dominate at Barcelona FC may have made it more popular for me when I was younger, but over time I learned of other things that met other needs such as music. Back in college, I was starting to get into concerts as well as raves. One day in 2011, I stumbled upon this video on YouTube that showed Sensation – one of the biggest rave parties in the world – was going to return to Spain and Barcelona.
I was so frustrated that it was far away, and I remember asking why does Europe get all the fun events like this. While raves were not, nor are, a need it showed me that Barcelona was a music hub where there would be plenty of music; both well-known and hidden gem. I also have an affinity for the Spanish guitar music that stems from that country. That probably started when I played The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time as a kid and I heard those first few chords to Gerudo Valley. When I was re-designing this blog, I wanted to incorporate such music when visitors came by the page but I decided not to due to potential copyright issues. I knew back then I had to find a way to go there. And opportunity came knocking my Senior year of undergrad.
What felt like an eternity, made worse by senioritis, was nearly coming to an end in Spring 2014. I had to choose my courses for my final semester, and I saw my chance. There was a class that had a study abroad portion for several weeks in Spain. Traveling through Madrid, Valencia, and Barcelona we would explore and learn about certain topics while there. I even had my parents approval since I’d be with my professor and classmates. But then I discovered something. The one, and final, course that was required for me to graduate that spring fell on the exact same days and time as this study abroad course. My heart sunk to my feet. I begged the professor if there was any way I can take both courses, or anything I can do to go. The answer was no.
I would go on to graduate on time, and not in debt, and then created this blog to which you joined me on what would be a long and trying time getting my passport. I wouldn’t attempt to go to Spain again until Winter 2019. Little did I know that Fall, that I would be out of work and hoping my dad didn’t have cancer. Things got a bit better heading into 2020, and I aspired to re-try in the Summer or Fall; depending how things turned out. You all know how the rest of that story goes, as we all still lay stuck inside our homes. Empty skies above with very few to no planes flying through.
I know one day things will get better, and we can all travel once again. But until then, I’ll have my travel shows and books to continue seeing all the possibilities I can do once in Spain. Besides the music, the delicious Spanish and Catalonian cuisine I can’t wait to taste. The arts and cultural events held throughout the city and country are another thing. It’s not in Barcelona, but I am excited to one day witness (hopefully take part) in La Tomatina, Tarragona’s El Castells and many other events. See, not only does Barcelona have the music, sports, art & entertainment, ocean, history and culture but so do many cities within the country. As mentioned before, there’s plenty to see and do whether in big cities or small towns; by the coast or at the heart of Spain. And let’s not forget about the neighboring countries, shall we?
I’ve mentioned a few countries close to London, England such as Ireland, Scotland and France. If I lived in Spain, I’d be close to Portugal, Morocco, France and Italy. That part also excites me as there are plenty to do in cities such as Lisbon, Monaco, Casablanca, Catania, Naples and Rome. Spain, Italy and Greece are my top 3 European countries I want to see and to be living in one, close to another and the third not too far from it would pretty cool. Not to mention how affordable it is to travel between European countries.
Overall, every place provides it’s own style of city and nature life. Each comes with different history, food and cultures that are unique and appealing. Despite having two leading contenders, any other place would be fine as well and perhaps in the future other cities could be added. Though I have never been to these cities, that feeling still lingers that I’d do just fine there. And while things like how locals act to new people, the politics, the economy and job opportunities were not discussed I am aware of such situations. Always do your research before making a big leap of faith, but also don’t let one or a few things throw you off from trying something new.
Just because a place is a little more expensive, or that certain job might be hard to find, doesn’t mean you’re not resourceful to find other ways. If you truly want to go somewhere, no matter how long it takes, you’ll get there. I don’t know what the future has in store for me, or if I end up moving at all. But what I do know is I will definitely visit these places and more wonderful sites across the globe. As soon as this global issue resolves, I will try my best. And I cannot wait to see what each has to truly offer, and maybe one becomes a new home. But if not, it’ll be okay because I am happy where I am as well. In the end, home is where the heart is so do your best to follow yours like I’ve doing my best to follow mine. . .