European Cities: A Wish List

European Cities: A Wish List

After almost eight months of travelling in South America, we’ve come to realise two important things about ourselves and our travel style. Firstly, we are city boys. We love nature and spending time away from cities, but we are really in our element in medium to large cities. Secondly, we’ve discovered that it suits us best to rent an apartment and stay put in a city for a month to six week, then travel for one or two weeks between cities.

Also, we’ve also been missing Europe a bit lately. Plans are still to be decided, but we are currently thinking hard about spending much of next year back in our continent of birth, and while we certainly won’t visit all of these places in 2014, we’ve compiled a list of European cities where we would love to live for a month or more at some point in the future.

Sam picks: Lisbon

We have both visited Lisbon, but separately, and I for only one night when I was living in Mérida, Spain. Blessed with a temperate climate all year round, an affordable cost of living by European standards and an abundance of good food, I think Lisbon could be a perfect place for us to spend a month or so.

Blogger inspiration: Tasty things to try in Lisbon from Indie Travel Podcast, Lisbon Highlights from Never Ending Voyage and 33 Things We Love About Lisbon from Globetrotter Girls

Update: we spent a month in Lisbon in March 2015 and loved it! Read about alternative things to do in Lisbon, vegan Lisbon, our favourite digital nomad friendly cafés in Lisbon and about how much our month there cost.

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Zab picks: Munich

I lived in Munich for almost five years before Sam and I met, and I still have a lot of friends there. Like many German cities, it was almost completely flattened during WWII, though you wouldn’t know it, since it was rebuilt to the exact same city plans. It has a selection of excellent museums, some great cafés and restaurants and a relaxed vibe. Plus, the mountains are not far away, allowing for easy hiking trips in the summer and skiing in the winter. Being there for a month again in the summer, or during Oktoberfest would be a great chance for me to really show the city to Sam and also catch up with my friends!

Sam picks: Istanbul

On the cusp of Europe, Istanbul is a metropolis that has been calling me to return for a while. I was there once when I was 13 with my family, and was captivated by the mix of the familiar and the exotic, the old and the new. Though Zab has never visited, he agrees that it could be an ideal place for us to spend a month.

Blogger inspiration: Breakfast in Turkey from For 91 Days

Zab picks: Paris

Paris just oozes style. There are not many places that I could happily shop until I drop, both for clothes and for cakes, but Paris is one of them! I’d love to spend a month living in an artsy apartment in Montmartre or a fancy canal boat on the Seine, if we could afford it. These tips on how to save money in Paris would certainly come in handy in that case!

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Sam picks: Budapest

There is something undeniably attractive about Budapest’s unique mix of grand classical architecture, crumbling medieval facades and gritty street art. Zab and I were there together for a few days in April 2009, and I spent a week there for work in June 2011, and both occasions made us realise it’s definitely somewhere we could return for a while.

Inspiration: 5 Must See Attractions in Budapest from Ferreting Out the Fun

Update: we spent 10 days in Budapest in January 2014, and even in the winter, it was gorgeous. We also ate a lot, so you can now read about vegan Budapest too!

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Zab picks: Glasgow

I was born just outside Glasgow (which is actually Scotland’s biggest city, not Edinburgh as many people believe) and I think we could have a lot of fun spending a month there. It is a vibrant university city and has a very up and coming art scene, some excellent museums and some splendid art deco architecture.

Update: we spent a long weekend in Glasgow in October 2016, found some cool places to see art, free things to do and loads of great vegan food!

Sam picks: Palma de Mallorca

We went to Mallorca for Zab’s birthday in 2011, and though we didn’t stay in Palma itself, we visited for an afternoon each at the beginning and end of our week there and enjoyed the city a lot. We were also surprised by the natural beauty of Mallorca (especially the west coast) and a month spent in the capital could provide us with an ideal base to explore more of the island.

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Zab picks: Copenhagen

The automated metro system in Copenhagen is a lot of fun to ride; there aren’t many metros around the world where you can sit where the driver would be and pretend you’re steering the train! The city also has some superb museums, is extremely well organised and clean, and I just love the calm, minimalist Scandinavian style. Plus, I have a good friend living in Copenhagen.

Update: we spent some time in Copenhagen in August 2015 for pride, and also ate all the vegan things!

Sam picks: Stockholm

In many ways, Sweden feels like the perfect country. The standard of living is high, everything feels clean and well organised, there is very little poverty, there are beautiful people everywhere and they all seem happy. If we can afford it in the future, we would love to spend a (summer) month in Stockholm and explore more of the archipelago and the coastal area. Also Zab’s best friend and his husband live in the city, so it could be a very sociable time.

Update: we have spent several weeks during recent summers in Stockholm, either housesittinghanging out with friends and doing the gay things, including pride.

We both pick: Berlin

We love Berlin big time. Last year, Sam was there three times, once with Zab, once with a friend and once for work. We were also there together back in March 2008, and Zab visited several times when he was living in Munich before we met. Many of the aspects that attract us to it are features that London, our hometown, shares: a comprehensive transportation system, a multicultural mix of inhabitants, international food and a spirit of creativity and acceptance.

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But Berlin is special. There is a vibe to the city that feels unlike anywhere else, and in some ways it is the complete opposite of London. It also has the major advantage of being much more affordable than the UK’s capital.

Berlin being on this list is really just an honorary mention, because we actually have plans to set up a kind of home base in Berlin next year, which would likely mean spending more than just one month there, and rather whole summers!

Blogger inspiration: A Beginner’s Guide to Berlin from Uncornered Market

Update: we moved to Berlin in 2014 and have since written a whole lot about the city.