12 Cities in 12 Months

I recently read a great blog post from the Travelettes called 12 Cities in 12 Months. The post was inspired by a German book about a woman that won some money in a lottery and spent a year living in different places, one per month. In her case, she was a writer and could continue to do her job from remote locations so she didn’t have to use a lot of her winnings. It was just the push she needed to get out the door.

Feeding a giraffe in the Vancouver Zoo, 2003

Feeding a giraffe in the Vancouver Zoo, 2003

The writer of the Travelettes post, Annika, wrote about her choices and there are a few of hers that I might pick too, including  Venice, Barcelona and she also chose Nairobi. While I wouldn’t have really thought about anywhere in Africa, the lure of the Giraffe Manor is too much to resist! (Though, I *have* actually fed a giraffe, in the Vancouver Zoo!)

So which 12 cities would I like to live in for a month? That would take some thinking. I would probably take into consideration location as it relates to where else I could visit easily from that city so I could take in more of the area.  I should also pick one or two more exotic locations, places I might not normally choose for a vacation but which might be interesting even if there’s a culture shock! This is a “money is no object” journey and I would likely want an apartment or apartment-hotel for convenience in each location.

Here’s a list after some consideration: Paris, Barcelona, Florence, Bangkok, Japan (maybe not Tokyo, perhaps Kyoto), Shanghai, Aukland, Sydney, New York, Buenos Aires, Copenhagen or a city in Sweden, maybe Gothenburg, Nairobi

Why not London? Yep, my favourite city (so far). Not London because it is exactly that, my favourite city. There wouldn’t be a culture shock. While there are plenty of parts of London I haven’t seen, I’m still familiar enough with it that it wouldn’t have that fresh, new feeling of exploring a new city’s vibe. I’ve been to some of the others in the past, for short visits, enough to know I’d like to spend more time there.

Without a daily job, though, I guess you are basically a tourist in each city for a month. I’d spend my days with my camera, writing about what I’d seen and done, what I liked and didn’t like. I’d try to document my own view of the culture and surroundings.

passport_leafParis: I’ve been there and it’s a wonderful city. I think that I would love to live there for a month, experiencing the vibe of the city and soaking in the history and culture. I speak a little French, not a lot,  so it would help improve that, I think.

Barcelona: I’ve never been to Spain but I know a number of people that have been to Barcelona and all are wowed by the city, the architecture and the people. That’s good enough for me!

Florence: Another city full of history and art, Florence impressed me when I visited as part of a bus tour of Italy. I immediately liked the look and feel of it and wished we could have stayed longer. I had learned a little Italian before the tour so I would want to pick that up again, maybe take some Italian cooking lessons, too.

Bangkok: I used to be fascinated by Singapore. I traded postcards with a woman there for awhile and I loved the views I saw. I think, though, to live in that area, I’d want something a bit more exotic. Thailand seems just the ticket. And.. Thai food is awesome!

I thought perhaps somewhere in Japan would be very interesting but Tokyo just seems way too large and unwieldy so my choice here is Kyoto, the historic capital of Japan. I think there would be more of a deep-rooted historic feel to the city, even though it’s still a very large one.

I used to really want to visit Hong Kong. I think I still would but I don’t know as I’d want to live there for a month. Shanghai seems more historic, more Chinese if you will. And I could visit Hong Kong from there, anyway!

The Maori culture would be fascinating to discover

I’d love to spend a month either in Australia or New Zealand, too. Sydney is a good central point for a lot of Australia on the east and south which would not be too far by plane for a few days visits. New Zealand would be a beautiful country as well, with both having fascinating native culture with the Aborigines and Maori respectively.  Aukland would be a good base here.  I guess I’ll have to have a month in each!

If I’m going to try to touch all of the continents, I’ll have to have a month in Africa. I would probably go with Nairobi here because the lure of that Giraffe Manor is irresistable. I don’t know much about Nairobi so that might be a good thing. It would be a completely new experience. Many of the other cities, even ones I haven’t visited before, would still be new, but only a few would be so radically different from my Canadian home. Nairobi, Bangkok and Shanghai would tick that box.

Buenos Aires would be the city in South America. I hear it’s fairly sophisticated and has a lot of culture. The added bonus here is the availability of cruises to Antarctica, the final frontier so to speak.

One more in Europe, heading north now. I was thinking of Scotland but as it’s more familiar, I would probably go with Northern Europe. Copenhagen or Gothenburg since it has a friendlier feel than Stockholm. I don’t know why I feel that way but it is also closer to Copenhagen which would definitely be interchangeable. It was a difficult decision to choose. I really like Copenhagen but thought I’d pick somewhere I hadn’t been. Gothenburg it is.

42nd Street at night

42nd Street at night

Rounding off the list, back in North America, I thought I’d choose New York City.  I initially considered San Francisco but it’s too hilly! New York has everything you’d want for a month and then some and it’s close to quite a lot of interesting cities for weekend breaks, like Boston, Washington and Philadelphia.

I dropped a city in Scotland and one in Ireland that had made the first cut because they were too “safe”, if you know what I mean. I thought, if this is something I ever get to do, why pick locations that are familiar or at least that are well inside the comfort zone? If I went that route, I could spend the whole year in various cities around Europe including some of the ones in Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean. You gotta be adventurous!

So there you go. A fantasy year spending a month in 12 different cities. The next time I make this list, they’ll probably change!

5 thoughts on “12 Cities in 12 Months

  1. CanadianTravelBugs says:

    What a great idea… right away my wheels started turning where would I pick?
    It is funny how you say Shanghai is more Chinese and historic… The Chinese think Shanghai is the Hong Kong of the North and it is VERY modern. Older parts of the city in the French concessions are still there, but many of the old style Chinese living quarters have been demolished to make way for tall apartment complexes. From what I am told many of them had no plumbing and they were 3-4 stories high, so more modern apartments won out.
    Hong Kong to me seems more Chinese since that is what you see in movies with the neon lights and crowds of people. The streets are 2 lane roads where Shanghai has more larger highways… or near where we live in the newer section of the city.

    • Tvor says:

      That surprises me. Not that it isn’t modern, but that it would be as much as it is. I was thinking of the historic element but it sounds like it’s not a strength of it like I thought. Hong Kong seems to feel so modern and it was a British Colony for awhile so it felt less Chinese, at least in my head. My parter’s first thought was Beijing. That might work too or maybe Hong Kong should get the vote after all.

      • CanadianTravelBugs says:

        Beijing is very different too and there is a modern area, but a lot of the city also has older less modern sections, although they have large walls around a lot of them, so I wasn’t sure it was open to tourists to go wandering through the little alley ways.
        Hong Kong was British and lots of tall buildings and designer shops. Mong Kok has narrow streets, (night) markets and neon everywhere. The crowds and the Chinese signs ablaze make me feel it is more Chinese. The China that I expect in my head from movies. My first visit to HK in the modern shops and along the water was very different and I felt like I could be in Europe or NY. Next trip Mong Kok lived up to my expectations.
        Funny since many teachers in my school have gone in search of the real China and haven’t really discovered it yet. So much has changed so quickly. A year and half ago we went to the wall and these little make-shift shops were on the way up/down where they tried to sell you everything for a dollar. This summer all those are gone and a big modern car park garage, tourist welcome centre with modern buildings popped up. My husband was there in March (5 months previous) and he said most of that wasn’t even there then… They don’t mess around. When they want to build they just do it!

    • Tvor says:

      I wouldn’t go to Greece for a month and Athens really doesn’t appeal, far too crowded and polluted. Some of the islands would be nice for a visit. Germany doesn’t appeal either and Russia is also good for a visit but I don’t think I’d want to live there for a month. There are many many places I’d visit for a week, the list is verrrry long! but to live in a place is a different feel. It’s not just being a tourist every day, it’s grocery shopping, laundry, doing a bit of work if you had it, and I would like to take advantage and learn some of the language too.

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