Most of the places I go to are pretty awesome in their own right. Going somewhere and playing the tourist role from paradise like islands to modern cities and experiencing the charms and attractions on offer – sublime.
I think I manage to see the positives in most places I visit, I rarely leave somewhere utterly disappointed. However very occasionally, I will visit somewhere and push through the tourist barrier into the oh my gosh I could definitely live here state of mind. Very occasionally though, I could count on one hand how many times this has happened – it is hard to sum up in words what it is like being somewhere and being so comfortable and feeling as though you are more of a permanent fixing rather than just a guest.
It is quite a personal thing, but here is a list of the places where I have felt so at home.
-Helsinki, Finland. I’ve visited this city twice, the first time was with my brother six months ago, the second as part of my euro trip a month ago. This city combines beautiful historic architecture with quirky cobblestoned streets adorned with funky art, a beautiful waterfront and lakes and a high standard of living. There is such a good vibe in the city, people seem happy, are helpful, they picnic on the many green spots in the city with blankets and prosecco. I have never felt so content and at peace whilst roaming these streets alone, I love this city.
-Paris, France. As Audrey Hepburn once said, Paris is always a good idea. The city of love, the city of passion, the city where it is acceptable to drink red wine at 11am and consume horrendous amounts of cheese. Well – that’s what I did anyway. Yes, it’s dirty, with a high crime rate, gritty, expensive, however its potency and passion shines through all of this. It’s relevant, tells historical stories and contains some of the most iconic buildings in the world.
-Accra, Ghana. I’m probably biased because I lived here for a month but I have never felt so comfortable and so at home as I did in Accra. I learnt the art of navigating the trotros, sat in horrendous traffic at rush hour and upgraded from being stared at to being smiled at. I ate stupid amounts of plantain chips, found my favourite fruit vendor and discovered the omelette sandwiches the vendors sell at 3am roadside after a night on the tiles. The sort of things that you have to live somewhere for a while and really delve deep to discover, but help create the best memories.
-Beijing, China. Although I’ve been here four times now it’s always acted as some sort of transit before I go off exploring other areas of Asia. Whenever I return I feel a sense of familiarity with a desire to explore more and learn more about this city. And I really have experienced a lot in this city, being robbed, rocking up with no luggage, having no money but strangely this has never put me off coming back.
Photos by Kitty Busz