My city of choice?

It’s fair to say that I normally seek isolation and beauty for a holiday, away from the hum drum with peace and quiet and a view of the hills or the sea!  Divergent Travellers put up a question a while back – which city, Dubai or Singapore?  That got me thinking, I’ve actually been to a few despite my rural preference!  And I loved them all – how to pick a favourite!!

London

Lovely London

Lovely London

I’m very fond of London, after all it is (almost) home and I certainly spend at least a couple of days a week there with work!  There is so much to see and such a mix of culture and history – it is easy to take it for granted being there so regularly.  London is easy to get around with fantastic transport links and she did herself proud throughout the Olympics – centre stage to the world.  It is always lovely to spend time in the parks, see the palaces, walk the Thames and even spend time in the shops, bars and restaurants.  There is an incredible choice of things to do and visit.  Even better – the likes of Windsor, Hampton Court and Richmond are all less than half an hour away and are in themselves fantastic!  Yes, I like London – but I take it for granted as I am there so often!

Dubai

Big and bold in Dubai

Big and bold in Dubai

We stopped off here en route back from a desert retreat – Dubai is big – looking up, but also in length along the coast.  Driving in from the south I think it took us about 30minutes on a motorway to get across the city to the northern permitter.  It definitely seems to have many hubs – there’s the high rises at the marina, the Palm, the Jumeirah beach front, Downtown where the Burj Khalifa is etc etc.  A lot of money, almost too much – everything is about being the biggest and best.  That said – the key buildings do have a certain beauty to them and they are awe inspiring.  There are old bits to the city too – Al Fahidi neighbourhood is a great example and there are stunning wind towers on the buildings (that the new hotels try to copy), and Al Karama is staggering for just how many fake handbag shops there are!

New York

Fun in the big apple

Fun in the big apple

New York was never somewhere I was desperate to visit, but then we ended up there a few years ago in the Autumn and we were very taken by it.  Like London there is such variety and it is very well set up for tourists.  The metro is really good and its pretty flat for walking!  We had 2 nights there and it felt like just enough.  We used the New York City Pass that we had for 2 days – it definitely made sure we visited more than we might otherwise have done.  Favourite spots was sun up in the Rockafella and sun down from the Empire State.  Time out was spent in Central Park, the world trade centre garden and on the high line.  A complete variation of things to do and bound to be something for everyone.  NYC is massive, and the scale of the buildings is something else, there is such a lot that you should plan what you want out of the trip so that you don’t get swamped by trying to do everything!

Abu Dhabi

Glistening in the sunshine

Glistening in the sunshine

Abu Dhabi is younger as a city than Dubai, and as a result there is even more building work going on.  We actually found less to look at here than in Dubai – but that was perhaps because it was more disjointed, or perhaps because we were still in desert-traquility mode!!  There are some stunning things to take in, but only really for a day.  Emirates Palace is a gold-plated hotel (with a gold bar vending machine) – we made the obligatory visit and thanked our good sense not to have wished to have stayed somewhere like this!!  The mosque is stunning and no visit should be complete without quiet time visiting.  Saadiyat island is quickly being developed, but currently still has some open stretches of sand which are a very pleasant place.  Yas Island we didn’t stop at – but there is a lot of quirky building going on there!!

Singapore

Stunning Singers

Stunning Singers

This was another surprise trip, in that it wasn’t a long term plan.  I didn’t think I’d like the humidity, but actually I came to terms with it really quickly!  My husband was there with work so I flew out to join him – scored an up front upgrade on the way out that definitely got me in the mood!!  We had 4 days here and much like NYC, were selective with what we chose to do and ensured a real mixture.  Trainers on and a mooch was good fun, it’s hot but the underground and hotel lobbys are very well air conditioned!  We loved the view from the top of the ship-like hotel (but a soulless place, would not want to stay) and we treated ourselves to supper in Equinox which had an equally amazing view.  We also spent some time in China Town and took a trip out to Sentosa to see the beach, and a view of 1000 ships!  It’s a bit of a tourist cliche, but do take the time for a Sling in Raffles – expensive, but it has to be done!  That and soft shelled crab!  I was happy to have found a small hotel – Naumi – right near to Raffles that was perfect for our requirements with a great roof top pool, they’ve also opened another in the city now that looks interesting as well!

Paris

Paris - c'est parfait!

Paris – c’est parfait!

Paris is so close to home, yet I only visited for the first time a few years ago.  What struck me most was how much warmer and continental the climate is to the one we have in the UK, yet it really isn’t far away from us.  We walked and walked and walked, and we didn’t really have a plan either, it is easy to follow your nose because each time you get to one site, you can see another in the distance to head for!  We saw an incredible amount of the city that way and didn’t feel like we missed out!  I think one of my favourite bits was going up to Montmartre at the end of day for sunset and drinks – a stunning spot and amazing lighting on the Sacre Coeur – we found a cute little restaurant down a side street away from the tourist central square.

Washington

Washington at its best

Washington at its best

I think I saw DC the easy way – in a car, with my Uncle, on a clear winter weekend!  The city was very quiet and we zipped between sites in his car.  But this did mean that I got to see most of the outdoor memorials – it is striking just how clean the city is (looks great against a blue sky) and how much history is commemorated across the city.  On another visit I would love to spend time working my way around the Smithsonian museums which are mainly free entry.

Boston

Boston beauty in the sunshine

Boston beauty in the sunshine

Boston is cute and very friendly.  We spent a day in the sunshine enjoying many of its sights.  We did a lot from a duck tour, but also a lot on foot.  We were there at the start of fall and the colours of the trees were just getting good!  I found it quite hard to find a reasonably priced yet well-located hotel.  Many had minimum stay requirements which is always frustrating!  We had our first supper in Boston and that introduced me to American Spec food (my first visit to the states) – rest assured an appetiser or starter is probably big enough as a main meal!

Cape Town

Cape Town sights

Cape Town sights

I don’t know the city of Cape Town that well as we tend to head out into the countryside when we have visited.  But any city with such an iconic natural back-drop gets my vote!!  Table mountain and Lion’s head both provide epic views of the city and the coastline.  Table View is fast being developed for fancy accommodation and bars, when we first visited it was just a deserted stretch of beach!!  The V&A waterfront is a great place to visit and there is an awesome wine shop there too (if you can’t make it out to Stellenbosch!!).  Local knowledge is best for the city as there is a buzzing nightlife and some amazing food, just a stones throw away from the tourist traps!

Marrakech

Mystifying Marrakech

Mystifying Marrakech

Marrakech is a fascinating place – and it really comes alive at night!  The main square is full of food stalls and surrounding it is the most beautiful and bustling souk!  Eating out here takes some planning – in and around the souk and into the city further there are some  hidden gems – we dined like royalty on a number of occasions enjoying Thai one night and a local-fare banquet on another.  Try and stay in a Riad on a visit, rather than a large hotel.  Hidden behind unassuming doors they open up inside and typically have wonderful roof terraces!

Rome

Rome through taxi windows!

Rome through taxi windows!

I have only been to Rome with work, and so everything I’ve seen is from a taxi window…  There seems to be history and beautiful architecture everywhere you look – plenty to see!  No doubt plenty of tourist traps, but it looks a bit like the kind of place that a couple of days with trainers on and a map in hand would go nicely!

Monaco

Monaco Money

Monaco Money

No trip to the south of France would be complete without ogling the money on display in Monaco!  A fascinating place!  Thankfully not all of the coastline is like Monaco, but this is the place to people watch!  Enjoy a glass or few of rose at Cafe de Paris and watch people come and go, and check out the cars that arrive at the Casino!  There is always something to turn the head in this city!  We were quite surprised that neither the parking or the wine was that expensive.  Plenty of architecture and beauty to take in as well, away from the main spots

Favourite place then?

First, to answer the original question – Dubai or Singapore?  Tricky as they are actually more different than I expected.  Dubai is fascinating, however I think that Singapore just has the edge – the buildings in general are a little more awe-inspiring and life doesn’t need to be about hotel-living in this culture.  That said – the climate in Dubai is less humid (for much of the year) and this is definitely a positive and there is history and beauty if you go looking.  So it is a close run thing, and to be honest, I’d probably visit either again (as a stop off to a beach retreat).  Not a conclusive answer, but probably Singapore by a whisker – thinking about it from the perspective of where would I actually prefer to live given the choice!

Complete favourite from all the above?  It was always going to be London.  How could it not be!!  London is near to home and so I can get a little dose of it whenever I’m there with work, or at a weekend visiting friends.  There is a lot of pride in the UK about just how good London 2012 was and the city really was at its best, and has stayed that way.  It is always easier to enjoy a place the more you know about it and there is such a variety!  That said – my favourite place is always going to be somewhere with patchy 3G or wifi and a great unbroken view of the countryside, wide open spaces and no other people around!….

Staying on a vineyard in Stellenbosch

Staying on a vineyard in Stellenbosch

Desert living

Desert living

Anyhow, continuing the city-based research in April – off to Venice for three days… will report back!  Have already looked into trips out of the city!!

#SundayTraveler

#SundayTraveler

With Chasing the donkey

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64 Comments

  1. February 15, 2014 / 12:44 pm

    You have been to some great cities! I have been to Paris, New York, and Singapore as well and I loved each of them for different reasons!! I would love to visit Dubai, too! It has a lot to offer!!

  2. February 15, 2014 / 12:44 pm

    You have been to some great cities! I have been to Paris, New York, and Singapore as well and I loved each of them for different reasons!! I would love to visit Dubai, too! It has a lot to offer!!

  3. February 15, 2014 / 12:46 pm

    From your list I would choose New York or Rome from those I visited. I also like London, but for me living in Spain, English weather is just too depressive! In most cities you show here, I would be able to imagine my life for a while!

    • February 15, 2014 / 12:50 pm

      That’s how we always rate a city… Could we be ex pats here for a while!!

  4. February 15, 2014 / 12:46 pm

    From your list I would choose New York or Rome from those I visited. I also like London, but for me living in Spain, English weather is just too depressive! In most cities you show here, I would be able to imagine my life for a while!

  5. February 15, 2014 / 2:22 pm

    I am completely a city person 100%. I like nature, but not for long a weekend or a week at most and then I’m craving to be back in the city. It’s so hard to choose a favorite, but I really did adore London. New York is also fabulous. Paris was the first European city I visited so I’m always partial to it. After living in Budapest for so long its definitely a favorite as well and I really enjoyed my time in Berlin. So many places to choose from! And I haven’t even been to the ones in Asia.

  6. February 15, 2014 / 2:22 pm

    I am completely a city person 100%. I like nature, but not for long a weekend or a week at most and then I’m craving to be back in the city. It’s so hard to choose a favorite, but I really did adore London. New York is also fabulous. Paris was the first European city I visited so I’m always partial to it. After living in Budapest for so long its definitely a favorite as well and I really enjoyed my time in Berlin. So many places to choose from! And I haven’t even been to the ones in Asia.

  7. February 15, 2014 / 2:34 pm

    From your list, we have visited Paris, New York, Washington and London and I have to admit that all four of these cities are towards the top of my all-time favorites. I think I would also add Sydney and San Francisco to this list based on what I have experienced and some of your others are on my bucket list to hopefully explore this year (we are heading to Boston in May and ‘hopefully’ Singapore in December!).

    I am with you though that you can’t beat the countryside. Coming from England also, I grew up about 15 miles north of Manchester in a smaller town but within close proximity to the natural landscape that we all love in England.

    Taking Heather to England for the first time, we headed into Yorkshire and she immediately found her favorite spot in the world – ‘Haworth’. I know this may surprise many but I think just the pure relaxation, tranquility and idyllic landscapes that surround this part of the country are what makes this so attractive, especially when you just want to get away from the city lifestyle for a while.

    • February 15, 2014 / 2:36 pm

      Agreed, city for a few days is plenty!! Enjoy boston and singers!! Off to Leeds then Macclesfield next week – the jetset life eh!!

  8. February 15, 2014 / 2:34 pm

    From your list, we have visited Paris, New York, Washington and London and I have to admit that all four of these cities are towards the top of my all-time favorites. I think I would also add Sydney and San Francisco to this list based on what I have experienced and some of your others are on my bucket list to hopefully explore this year (we are heading to Boston in May and ‘hopefully’ Singapore in December!).

    I am with you though that you can’t beat the countryside. Coming from England also, I grew up about 15 miles north of Manchester in a smaller town but within close proximity to the natural landscape that we all love in England.

    Taking Heather to England for the first time, we headed into Yorkshire and she immediately found her favorite spot in the world – ‘Haworth’. I know this may surprise many but I think just the pure relaxation, tranquility and idyllic landscapes that surround this part of the country are what makes this so attractive, especially when you just want to get away from the city lifestyle for a while.

    • February 15, 2014 / 2:36 pm

      Agreed, city for a few days is plenty!! Enjoy boston and singers!! Off to Leeds then Macclesfield next week – the jetset life eh!!

  9. February 15, 2014 / 6:10 pm

    You have actually been to quite a few big cities! I have sadly been to none of those but one day 🙂 Hope you get to explore more Rome outside the taxi window 🙂

    • February 15, 2014 / 6:14 pm

      i didn’t realise how many i’d been to until i started looking through photos for this piece! quite a lot given i prefer countryside!

  10. February 15, 2014 / 6:24 pm

    I’m not a city person at all if I’m honest, but they’re always so much fun to explore, with concentrated fun to be had. Interesting you went with Singapore – I loved Singapore too. I’m actually planning to hit up UAE soon and although I haven’t been yet, I can’t help but already know that I prefer Singapore haha… or maybe I’m being a little closed minded. Hmmm?

    Also baffled and jealous that the Franch climate trumps ours so much! Hmph!

    • February 15, 2014 / 6:30 pm

      UAE is much less conservative than I had expected and there is some history beyond the high rises… I know what you mean about Paris – although I think they are getting this non stop rain too this winter!!

  11. February 15, 2014 / 6:24 pm

    I’m not a city person at all if I’m honest, but they’re always so much fun to explore, with concentrated fun to be had. Interesting you went with Singapore – I loved Singapore too. I’m actually planning to hit up UAE soon and although I haven’t been yet, I can’t help but already know that I prefer Singapore haha… or maybe I’m being a little closed minded. Hmmm?

    Also baffled and jealous that the Franch climate trumps ours so much! Hmph!

    • February 15, 2014 / 6:30 pm

      UAE is much less conservative than I had expected and there is some history beyond the high rises… I know what you mean about Paris – although I think they are getting this non stop rain too this winter!!

  12. February 15, 2014 / 8:40 pm

    I’ve only been to three of them (Paris, London, Rome) and London is my favorite by far! “Once you get tired of London, you get tired of life” 😀

  13. February 15, 2014 / 8:40 pm

    I’ve only been to three of them (Paris, London, Rome) and London is my favorite by far! “Once you get tired of London, you get tired of life” 😀

  14. February 15, 2014 / 9:15 pm

    You’ve been to quite few big cities. When I was already leaning toward New York as my favorite, you came out with Cape Town. And then Rome. Hard to choose a favorite one. However, the only place, where I ever felt impressed with myself for being there, was New York. Seriously, I was thinking for the first half hour there: Look at me. I’m in NYC! Small town girl sindrom, I guess 🙂

    • February 16, 2014 / 12:27 pm

      New York is such a dense city, I know what you mean!!

  15. February 15, 2014 / 9:15 pm

    You’ve been to quite few big cities. When I was already leaning toward New York as my favorite, you came out with Cape Town. And then Rome. Hard to choose a favorite one. However, the only place, where I ever felt impressed with myself for being there, was New York. Seriously, I was thinking for the first half hour there: Look at me. I’m in NYC! Small town girl sindrom, I guess 🙂

    • February 16, 2014 / 12:27 pm

      New York is such a dense city, I know what you mean!!

  16. February 16, 2014 / 10:54 am

    I’ve been to London, Rome, Monaco, NYC, and Washington. London always has a special place in my heart 🙂 I’m really excited about going to Singapore on my upcoming trip though!

    • February 16, 2014 / 12:26 pm

      Enjoy!!! There’s a link on here to where I wrote about our visit if that’s any help!!

  17. February 16, 2014 / 10:54 am

    I’ve been to London, Rome, Monaco, NYC, and Washington. London always has a special place in my heart 🙂 I’m really excited about going to Singapore on my upcoming trip though!

    • February 16, 2014 / 12:26 pm

      Enjoy!!! There’s a link on here to where I wrote about our visit if that’s any help!!

  18. February 16, 2014 / 2:58 pm

    You’ve been to some amazing cities! I love London, too….my favourite city anywhere would have to be Nice, though. Monaco a close second – I love that part of the world!

    • February 16, 2014 / 2:59 pm

      sadly we only saw the airport at Nice… sounds like we need to return!!

  19. February 16, 2014 / 2:58 pm

    You’ve been to some amazing cities! I love London, too….my favourite city anywhere would have to be Nice, though. Monaco a close second – I love that part of the world!

    • February 16, 2014 / 2:59 pm

      sadly we only saw the airport at Nice… sounds like we need to return!!

  20. February 16, 2014 / 6:32 pm

    Awesome pictures. I would love to see Abu Dhabi. As you are in London a lot and usually seek seek isolation and beauty for a holiday then you should check out Burgess park it its not out of the way too much 😀
    A WALK IN THE PARK | BURGESS PARK #sundaytraveler

    • February 16, 2014 / 6:40 pm

      Thank you, will look for it on map – haven’t heard of it before!!

  21. February 16, 2014 / 6:32 pm

    Awesome pictures. I would love to see Abu Dhabi. As you are in London a lot and usually seek seek isolation and beauty for a holiday then you should check out Burgess park it its not out of the way too much 😀
    A WALK IN THE PARK | BURGESS PARK #sundaytraveler

    • February 16, 2014 / 6:40 pm

      Thank you, will look for it on map – haven’t heard of it before!!

  22. February 16, 2014 / 8:52 pm

    Ohhh I have only been to 4 of these places… I must get moving and then I’ll report back to you. Thanks for linking up with us to #SundayTraveler

  23. February 16, 2014 / 9:31 pm

    Lots of great cities in that list! I think Rome would have to be my favourite out of them, closely followed by London 🙂

  24. February 16, 2014 / 9:31 pm

    Lots of great cities in that list! I think Rome would have to be my favourite out of them, closely followed by London 🙂

  25. February 17, 2014 / 10:56 am

    The only cities of these that I’ve spent significant time in are Boston and New York – though I’ve been to DC a few times. It takes a while to really get to know a city. I lived in Boston for over a year, and I still don’t think I totally knew it.

  26. February 17, 2014 / 10:56 am

    The only cities of these that I’ve spent significant time in are Boston and New York – though I’ve been to DC a few times. It takes a while to really get to know a city. I lived in Boston for over a year, and I still don’t think I totally knew it.

  27. noel
    August 20, 2014 / 6:48 pm

    I’m so looking forward to going to London in October and checking out places I haven’t been to in over 20 years wow! Also Singapore in November to check out the new waterfront area, great post!

    • August 20, 2014 / 6:51 pm

      Perfect time to visit!! Make sure you see the poppies at the tower and book benches that are all over the place! I want to see that new garden in Singapore – it was still in build, looks quirky!!

  28. noel
    August 20, 2014 / 6:48 pm

    I’m so looking forward to going to London in October and checking out places I haven’t been to in over 20 years wow! Also Singapore in November to check out the new waterfront area, great post!

    • August 20, 2014 / 6:51 pm

      Perfect time to visit!! Make sure you see the poppies at the tower and book benches that are all over the place! I want to see that new garden in Singapore – it was still in build, looks quirky!!

  29. August 21, 2014 / 8:11 am

    What a super range of cities. I haven’t been to all of them at all either, however I would have to disagree with London – although I do understand your personal reasoning for your choice. For me it would be Paris that would win over London. Great article.

    • August 21, 2014 / 5:24 pm

      I think I need to spend more time in Paris and I would probably agree with you! We are going again in the winter – hurrah!!

  30. August 21, 2014 / 8:11 am

    What a super range of cities. I haven’t been to all of them at all either, however I would have to disagree with London – although I do understand your personal reasoning for your choice. For me it would be Paris that would win over London. Great article.

  31. alison abbott
    August 21, 2014 / 4:32 pm

    For a girl that likes the country, you’ve seen a great variety of city life around the world! I’ve been to 6 of your spots, but can’t believe I have still not made it to London. Have to fix that soon. It’s funny when we go to a spot that we really have no desire to visit and end up enjoying it more than expected. I think as travelers, we have the skill to seek out hidden gems no matter where we are.

    • August 21, 2014 / 5:25 pm

      I know, not sure how it happened I’ve seen so many!! Work and passing through mostly!! There is always something to be seen, I agree! Hope you get over to London soon!!

  32. alison abbott
    August 21, 2014 / 4:32 pm

    For a girl that likes the country, you’ve seen a great variety of city life around the world! I’ve been to 6 of your spots, but can’t believe I have still not made it to London. Have to fix that soon. It’s funny when we go to a spot that we really have no desire to visit and end up enjoying it more than expected. I think as travelers, we have the skill to seek out hidden gems no matter where we are.

    • August 21, 2014 / 5:25 pm

      I know, not sure how it happened I’ve seen so many!! Work and passing through mostly!! There is always something to be seen, I agree! Hope you get over to London soon!!

  33. August 21, 2014 / 8:07 pm

    There are so many cities I would love to visit – I’ve only been to 3 from your list and I couldn’t pick a favourite. I love them all. Hopefully I’ll get to visit some more before too long. Dubai fascinates me. The wealth and splendour is so unashamedly in your face that I don’t know whether to love or hate it. So far I’ve only managed a few hours at the airport while changing planes but I would like to visit for real one day.

    • August 21, 2014 / 8:14 pm

      Dubai is good for a day I think, a city with charm will always be better!!!

      • August 21, 2014 / 8:36 pm

        I did see a food tour in the old town that I love to do one day there but yes, a short visit would probably be best!

        • August 21, 2014 / 8:50 pm

          We stayed at xva art hotel in the old town – so glad we visited the new bit to gawp and not to stay!!

  34. August 21, 2014 / 8:07 pm

    There are so many cities I would love to visit – I’ve only been to 3 from your list and I couldn’t pick a favourite. I love them all. Hopefully I’ll get to visit some more before too long. Dubai fascinates me. The wealth and splendour is so unashamedly in your face that I don’t know whether to love or hate it. So far I’ve only managed a few hours at the airport while changing planes but I would like to visit for real one day.

    • August 21, 2014 / 8:14 pm

      Dubai is good for a day I think, a city with charm will always be better!!!

      • August 21, 2014 / 8:36 pm

        I did see a food tour in the old town that I love to do one day there but yes, a short visit would probably be best!

        • August 21, 2014 / 8:50 pm

          We stayed at xva art hotel in the old town – so glad we visited the new bit to gawp and not to stay!!

  35. August 22, 2014 / 12:01 am

    I’m not a big city person, but my favourites would have to be Florence, Cape Town (was there last week), Barcelona and New York. Possibly Marrakech also but I haven’t been there for over 20 years now!! Will be putting that right in a couple of months…

    • August 22, 2014 / 6:25 am

      Pretty cities or those totally different to home!!

  36. August 22, 2014 / 12:01 am

    I’m not a big city person, but my favourites would have to be Florence, Cape Town (was there last week), Barcelona and New York. Possibly Marrakech also but I haven’t been there for over 20 years now!! Will be putting that right in a couple of months…

    • August 22, 2014 / 6:25 am

      Pretty cities or those totally different to home!!

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