Number 5 - Amsterdam, Netherlands
Amsterdam, and the Netherlands in general, is a place I would love to take more time to explore and get to know. The architecture of the city lends itself to beautiful pictures around every turn. It's history as a central trading hub has lent itself to being a culturally rich and diverse city. The influence of its colonial past can be seen though the Indonesian influence in cuisine.
If you are able to time if right during the Spring you can experience the vibrant flower markets with tulips in full bloom. Certainly a sight to see and a great piece of Dutch culture to experience.
Number 4 - Rome, Italy
Visiting places like the Vatican, Roman Forum, Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, and the Pantheon bring back a lot of great memories of some first trips out of the country. Looking back, Rome is definitely a great first escape into traveling. There is a bit of a language barrier, but its a good challenge. There is a lot of architecture, but I'm able to draw correlations to U.S. buildings. People drive like maniacs, but who doesn't. Finally, food is not like Moms, but it is definitely number 2. There may not be better places in the world to indulge and eat, with a mix of fine dining and local neighborhood restaurants.
This city definitely has a soft spot for great memories and wonderful travel experiences. We'll be sure to make many more trips and do a lot more exploring.
Number 3 - Mexico City, Mexico
After our first day in Mexico City we became terribly upset, not by the city, but by the image that is presented in the U.S. Mexico has such a vibrant culture and so many amazing people. We plan on making many return visits to explore more little neighborhoods and try to satisfy our craving for more food. We suggest taking some time to stroll around to get lost and go eat. We are 100% positive that you will find a cafe to venture in and relax.
Also, there are various neighborhood markets such as Mercado de la Merced, Mercado de San Juan, and Mercado de la Nueva Viga just to name a few. You can honestly go to Mexico City and spend days walking through these markets sampling new things and buying a whole lot. Our time in Mexico City was nothing short of amazing and we look forward to many return trips.
Number 2 - Taipei, Taiwan
Taipei turned out to be one of those special places to us where we have no real preconceived idea about what to expect. We could not speak the language at all, but we could easily point and hand over money. The Taiwanese are some of the most gracious and hospitable people we met on our trip. We were able to visit some other towns outside of Taipei, like Yilin, Taichung, and Hualien and since visiting those places we would love to see everything else Taiwan has to offer.
As you can tell from the pictures above food played a big role. The street markets that you stumble on have basically everything from fresh vegetables to barbecued pork. One of the highlights was visiting the Shilin Night Market. For me this market is like food Disneyland. There is an outrageous number of stalls and foods to try. The nicest thing it that you don't need to get big plates of food, but small bits and serving to share and then move on to the next place.
Taiwan is certainly a place I could hunker down and stay a while. Too bad we didn't decide to teach English there or we probably would have never made it back to the US of A.
Number 1 - Atlanta, Georgia
The city has really taken off after the recession and projects like Ponce City Market, Atlanta Beltline, multiple Midtown developments, Krog Street Market, and many others have really begun to transform the city for the better. Outside of Charleston, Atlanta has hands down the best food in the South. There is such a variety of things to eat. You can find Korean and Vietnamese food on Buford Highway. There is great authentic Southern Cuisine around every turn. You can get your brunch on in Inman Park and then get wild in Old Fourth Ward.
Great restaurants like The Optimist, JCT, Miller Union, and Poor Calvin's can really be a treat to your senses. The vibrant beer scene with Monday Night Brewing, Orpheus, Sweetwater, Eventide, and Second Self will allow beer geeks to get their fix.
Atlanta's downtown is seeing a resurgence with the help of Georgia State University. The Atlanta Falcons/Atlanta United have a new stadium. Growth and expansion seem to have no end point and we're hoping the best for this place.
Atlanta is our home and there is no place we would rather be.