I’ve been lucky to get to travel quite a bit in my life. Not as much as some, but more than many. The summer after my sophomore year of college, I tagged along on a trip to New Orleans with my best friend from high school and her college buddies. The summer after my junior year, that same friend and I went on a 45-day budget tour of the continental U.S. Spring break my senior year, I went to New Orleans again with a different friend, and after I graduated, my best pal and I went on another adventure – this time, a cruise to the Bahamas. For our honeymoon, Dave and I sent ourselves to St. Lucia for a week, and we’ve found the money to go on a few other trips since then. I’ve worked at my job for over seven years now, and my work requires that I travel a few times a year; for work, I’ve been to a lot of cities in the U.S. and a few internationally. I’ve been to seven countries and I’ve lost count of the cities – near to 100, I’d say.
I like to travel and see new places, experience new things, but I’m almost always glad to come home again too – almost. There are a few cities I’ve been to that were hard to leave. Cities that felt like they owned a piece of me when I left; cities that left me wishing I came from there originally. There aren’t many, because at heart, I’m a Virginia mountain girl and I doubt I’ll ever live anywhere else. But if I did ever move? I can guarantee it would be to one of these fine locales.
- London. My first international conference was held here. It almost killed me, planning and running this thing. But it did send me across the Atlantic for the first time, and damned if I wasn’t going to enjoy it a little bit. Dave came out the day after my conference ended, and we spent five blessed days in old London town. Everyone we met was so nice. The food was delicious. They have useable public transportation that actually makes sense. The theater was fantastic. It’s so OLD. We loved it. We definitely did not want to leave, and I would go back any time somebody wants to buy my plane ticket.
- Portland (OR, not ME). We deliberated last year over where we wanted to go for our five-year wedding anniversary. We had just enough for a long weekend in a decent hotel in a second-tier city. At first we were looking for a music festival, and then we realized we hate crowds of people, especially drunk people, we hate camping, and we’re not overly fond of being outdoors in general. We got it down to Austin – which I’d been to once before and really liked and wanted to show Dave, it being such a fun, weird, musical city and all – and Portland – which we’d heard was neat and where Dave had a few internet friends we could entice to show us a little city. Ultimately, the temperature in June decided us in favor of Oregon over Texas…and we could not have had a better time. Amazing food, great weird little diversions, a naked bike ride that we accidentally just encountered, a little hole-in-the-wall bar with awesome local beers, time with great people…and POWELL’S BOOKS, Y’ALL!
- New Orleans. This city…oh, this city is my first love after Virginia. And I don’t mean Bourbon Street – that has its place, I suppose, but that’s not what would ever have drawn me in. What gets me is the heartbeat of that city. It’s a living being; you can just feel the city watching you while you’re there. It’s creepy and mysterious and crazy and beautiful. There’s the music and the food and the tradition. I’ll never be from there – I wish, but that obviously can’t ever happen. We’re watching Treme right now, and it’s all coming back to me. I haven’t been since Katrina. We’ve given pretty regularly – as recently as this year – to the Katrina relief funds, but it’s not enough. It can never be enough. I want to go back, and I’m afraid to go back all at the same time. But Dave hasn’t ever been. He never had an interest before, but I think maybe he’s getting more interested. Here’s hoping we can get down there together sometime – sooner rather than later.
How about you? Ever been to a city that stole your heart?