Recently, I stumbled upon a post on Instagram that compared major American cities (namely New York City and Los Angeles) to London, the largest city in the United Kingdom. While the post was intended to help readers deciding on which city to live, it had a different impact on me. This post inspired me to critically think about the cities that I visit during my time abroad. Although I do not have time to share all of the analyses of my trips so far (I have pages on pages of notes), perhaps at the very least this brief pros/cons list will guide you on places to visit- or better yet, places to live!
(+) Amazing transportation system
- Clean, fast, cheap, efficient
(+) Relatively cheap
- For a better understanding, a large cup of Cappuccino from a café in Germany is roughly $3.00
- Beer is embedded in the German culture and can be found just about anywhere (beer halls, beer gardens, hotels… you name it, they sell it)
(+) Home of Oktoberfest
- Dirndls, lederhosens, German music and liters of beer… Must I say anything else?
- All carbs and meat- good luck to my vegans out there!
- It’s quite cold in Germany, and it rains a good amount!
(-) Lack of English directives
- Very rarely will you find a sign written in English. Unless you’re fluent in German, good luck!
(+) A city defined by its history
- From the Jewish district to Old Town to Schindler’s factory and more, there is so much to learn about the history of this hidden gem.
(+) Insanely cheap
- The exchange rate of dollars to zloty is 1:4 (meaning $1.00 translates to 4 PLN)
- Pierogis, Bigos, and pickles to name a few- what else could you want in life?
(+) Locals are REALLY nice
- Many European countries get annoyed when Americans expect them to ditch their native language and cater to American culture. The people in Poland are so welcoming and love to help as needed!
(-) The city is still recovering from the effects of the Holocaust
- The tone of the city is still super solemn in many places and the economy is still recovering
(-) Difficult to navigate
- The streets aren’t clearly labeled, so navigating can be quite hard!
- York was historically the largest producer of chocolate in the UK, so many family-run chocolate stores still exist today and are extra delicious.
- Great for homework, first dates, or a quick bite! There is a local cafe on almost every corner in York.
(+) Tattoo parlors are insanely cheap
- If you are a tattoo/piercing junkie like me, you’ll be happy to hear that you can get a piercing for $15 or a small tattoo for about $40!
(+) Nightly Pub quizzes and live music
- Acoustic performances and quizzo? Sign me up!
(-) The weather is horrible
- It literally rains every day (not an exaggeration). I think I have had one day of sunshine since I moved here back in September.
- People drive on the opposite side of the road here and it’s super confusing. I have almost gotten hit twice so far, so please be careful!
- The food is pretty bland and besides Sunday roasts and fish and chips, there aren’t many options.
(-) difficult accents to understand
- Don’t let British portrayal in the media fool you! The Yorkshire accent is insanely thick and it is very difficult to understand local speakers.
Hvar, Split, Trogir:
- Some of the best sunsets and prettiest of views can found in Croatia! Don’t believe me? Check out my previous post (Winter is coming…) to see photos as proof.
- Because Croatia is made up of a group of islands, you can find fresh seafood anywhere that you go.
(+) Island hopping is so much fun!
- It’s so easy and efficient to hop a ferry for the day and explore a new island of Croatia! All of the islands have unique elements and amazing views.
(-) NO CONS
(-) NO CONS
(-) NO CONS
(-) Oh, and NO CONS
(+) the tube
- Surprisingly enough, the London subway system is easy to navigate and so efficient!
(+) safe for a big city
(+) Iconic landmarks
- Have you even been to London if you don’t take a photo in a red telephone booth? From Big Ben to the London Eye, there are so many classic landmarks to view during your time in London!
(+) major venues for concerts
- You can catch some great acts here for pretty cheap- definitely worth the experience!
- I was surprised by the amount of litter throughout the city. For such a large city, the infrastructure isn’t all that great.
- Good luck finding a meal for less than $15.00.
(+) Night life
- There are so many fun bars and pubs in Leeds! Whether you prefer dancing, casual settings, or a mix of both, you can be sure to find it here!
(+) The shopping scene is huge
- There are at least 10 Whether-spoon’s in Leeds- it’s amazing! (For anyone who doesn’t know what a Whether-spoon’s is, it’s basically an order-ahead app that partners with local pubs and provides wicked discounts on food and drinks)
- There are three universities all in close proximity near the heart of Leeds.
(-) Airport is expensive
- The Leeds airport is 3x as expensive as Manchester or London. Good luck traveling in or out of Leeds!
- Like York, Leeds is also situated in Yorkshire and has some pretty bad weather (rain, wind, etc.)
- Again, people drive on left side of the road. It’s super weird and super confusing.
(+) The history… duh!
- As one of the oldest cities in the world still in tact, Rome is historically charged and has so much to offer!
- Enough said.
(+) The Vatican
- Even if you aren’t religious, the Vatican is worth the visit! Religion is such an important aspect of the Italian culture and visiting the Vatican can really help you to understand the city in a new light.
(+) It’s a social city
- No matter the time of day, you will always see people enjoying a glass of wine, dancing in the streets, or reveling in the atmosphere and beauty of Rome!
(-) consistently pestered to buy souvenirs by locals
(-) SOOOO many pigeons
(-) Traffic is horrible
(-) You have to pay to get into most attractions
- Unlike most cities in Europe, many of the tourist attractions cost money. Although the city itself is reasonably priced, the costs start to add up.
(+) Authentic Italian experience
- Sorrento is less of a tourist area than Venice and Rome, enabling you to really get a feel for Italian culture.
(+) Fresh fruit trees and vineyards are everywhere
(+) Coastal city
- Sorrento is located along the Mediterranean Sea, which means beautiful sunsets and easy access to the Amalfi coast, Positano, and other Italian islands.
- Because it is farther south and along the coast, the weather in Sorrento is beautiful! When I visited in late October, the temperature was 77 degrees Fahrenheit… what a dream come true!
(-) No sidewalks
(-) Lack of public transportation
- The closest major airport and train station is about an hour away in Naples
(+) It’s absolutely BEAUTIFUL
(+) Shopper’s paradise
- You can find shops and gift stores every ten feet! It’s super fun and makes souvenir shopping extremely easy.
(+) Hot Chocolate
- Hot chocolate in Venice (and perhaps the rest of Italy) is basically warm pudding. It’s so much better than hot chocolate as we know it in the States.
(-) No cars
- Yes, a city on water is beautiful, but no cars= long and inefficient commutes via water taxis.
(-) No vegetables anywhere
- Fresh produce is fairly hard to come by in Europe as a whole, especially in a city founded on water! Prepare yourself for lots of pasta.
(-) Difficult to navigate
- There is no structure to the city and there are at least 30 bridges throughout the city, making it very easy to get lost!
(-) Gondola rides are so anticlimactic!
- I know, I was sad too. The rides are less than half an hour and super expensive (ranging from $80-120 depending on the style of tour you choose). Even worse, unlike they lead you to believe in Las Vegas, the captains don’t even sing during the ride.