My Favorite Cities
July 19, 2009 – Moscow, Russia via Cali
Must we always rank everything in life? Top-rated this, best that? Yeah we do!
Below are my 3 top cities of the world. The common denominator for all these cities is that they require a bit of toughness to enjoy. They are not for the namby-pamby, but for people who like to get a bit duurty. It’s this grittiness that makes a city irresistible — to me, anyway.
And so, my top 3:
I know when you say Russia, everyone raves about St. Petersburg. Which is pretty, don’t get me wrong, but Moscow was amazing. St. Catherine’s and the Kremlin were truly heart-stopping in their fabulousness. And the city’s dynamism was tangible – anything is possible! (And it is, especially with a few rubles spread to the right people). Muscovites (and Russians in general) can be a bit gruff, but don’t you mind. Russians are a resilient people — high praise from me! In Moscow, it’s every wo/man for themselves and I like it!
Hong Kong is (or at least it was when I lived there in the early 1990s) the Wild West. I met a girl once who wanted to make her own line of handbags and she easily did it in Hong Kong. Found a designer, manufacturer and a distributer and it was off to the races with no more than an idea. It’s that kind of gumption that characterizes Hong Kong Chinese (and all the expats who lived there).
The city literally had a pulse – which, come to think of it, could have been the constant slamming of jackhammers. See, all of HK’s telephone lines are underground, so the phone company was constantly tearing up cement to get access to the lines. With the highest level of noise pollution in the world, Hong Kong’s jack hammering only exacerbated the yelling of the local population. (You know Chinese people shout during normal conversations). The stock markets ruled Hong Kong and money – and the unabashed pursuit of it — was king. With the lucky number of 8, anything could be yours. Translated as “Fragrant Harbor,” Hong Kong was ripe with the possibility of winning big. Even if that possibility had a little stink on it.
New York City
I lived in NYC 5 years to the day. Then it was time to leave. Was fun fun fun! Then it was just tiring. Something about being yelled at by a bunch of people before I even got off the subway in the morning. Hauling groceries on a bus, schlepping laundry up and down stairs, exorbitant pricing for martinis (damn good martinis though) – it all just got a little too much.
For the first years though I honestly lived the Sex-in-the-City lifestyle and loved it. Also loved living in Brooklyn and seeing a bit more of the “real” side of New York (even tho I lived in Park Slope, which is hardly the rough side of Brooklyn). Everyone should experience New York – at least once in their life! What a minute. These are supposed to be my favorite cities and my comments are more disparaging than praise-worthy. My review is dotted with contradictions. But maybe that’s just it: these cities are full of contradictions. Maybe that’s what really makes my favorite cities tick.
What are your favorite cities of the world? And more importantly: Why?