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Discontinued - Are You My Motherland?

24 Jan 2014

In this series I examine some cities I’ve visited and what I’ve experienced to be different about them in the hopes of finding pride in my old homes or discovering a new place to call home.

Discontinued is unfortunately not the name of some obscure city. It’s exactly what you’d think it means; I’m abandoning this series. To elaborate, I had a post on Barcelona and half-written ones on Berlin and Budapest done when I lost the desire to continue. I’ll summarize the three below:

Barcelona

  • Drivers are extremely aggressive. As soon as the light turns red, you best be off the street
  • The metro counts down arrival time by the second. Can’t get more accurate than that
  • Everything is open late. This is because things also happen late – people eat dinner around 9pm, then go out around 2am
  • The city has hikes as well as beaches. I didn’t realize how much I enjoyed having both in one city until Barcelona
  • Great mix of crazy art, history, architecture, and clubs
  • The only time I’ve seen more public displays of affection than Barcelona on a regular day was the Eiffel Tower on New Year’s Eve. Lots of love going around in Spain
  • Flies everywhere. Only place so far in Europe where bugs got annoying

Berlin

  • Food is absolutely fantastic, both the local cuisine and international.
    Particularly the doner kebabs and the beer
  • German efficiency is no joke. Everything ran exactly on time
  • The history is incredibly rich. Even someone like me with little interest in history can learn about it for weeks here
  • One of the best club scenes I’ve experienced
  • Prices are very reasonable

Budapest

  • Cheapest place I’ve been by far. If we judge by the Big Mac index, a combo was 1290ft (about $5)
  • The architecture was almost Rome-caliber yet also very colorful
  • Much less crowded than other tourist destinations. You actually have room to breathe!

The reason I lost heart was because I came to see how baseless the idea behind the series was. Each city that I reviewed, I visited for roughly three days. In that time span, usually one day was spent doing tours to learn about the city (tip-based walking tours are the best quality), one day was spent on whatever else tourist attractions there were, and one day was spent strolling through the city, taking pictures. By the end I had enough landscapes for any photographer to climax.

Looking at that, I just toured the cities. I didn’t actually travel or live them. The extent of what I did to stray off the typical tourist track was seek out hole-in-wall restaurants, avoid touristy museums, and go out of my way to talk to other travelers / locals. That makes me more of a hipster tourist than a traveler. I can’t righteously declare a place livable after 3 days. Just like how I wouldn’t marry a girl after just 3 dates. Sorry Britney Spears.

I’ve been in Lyon for over 4 months and only recently did I begin to truly notice and appreciate the more subtle cultural differences that made it unique. I may do a post on Lyon since that’s actually justified. The short answer is no, I probably wouldn’t live there, but at least I know that for the city itself, and not for the tourist facade of it.

So goodbye “Are You My Motherland”. It’s been a fun series to write and I will still be on the lookout for the quirks when I’m in a city, but I no longer dare claim to know a city after so short a time.


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