Top Ten Large European Cities

Europe has been on my mind lately.  I haven’t visited the continent since 2012, so it could be that I simply miss the place.  Or it could be that recent late night TV airings of Skyfall and Midnight in Paris have left me nostalgic for my wandering days.

I immediately started thinking of some favorite places in Europe.  A few, like the Bernese Oberland of alpine Switzerland, are pleasantly rural.  Most, however, are either specific sights in specific cities…or the cities themselves.

Europe is blessed with dozens of cities and towns worth visiting.  I have decided to share my favorites with you in a series of top ten lists.  I am dividing my rankings into three separate lists.  First, large cities – cities with over 1,000,000 residents.  Next, mid-sized cities – let’s say 50,000 – 1,000,000.  Finally, small cities and towns – any community with fewer than 50,000 people.

Here are my Top Ten Large European Cities:

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Urban Graffiti around the World

I spent part of last Saturday afternoon walking around downtown Nashville.  It was a perfect summer day, with non-threatening clouds and a gentle breeze.  As I headed from Gay Street towards Market Square, one block away, I passed an alley that travels between the two…and did a double take.

Graffiti, alive with color, adorned both sides of this urban alley, and a dozen or so tourists were snapping pictures.  When in Rome, the saying goes…and so I did.

Graffiti Alley Knoxville 1

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Germany: A Love Affair

This past November 9th marked 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall.  That historic day in 1989 saw the reunification of a divided country following three decades of Cold War hostilities.  The transition wasn’t perfect, but it was a non-violent and triumphant event for a small corner of Europe that, throughout much of the 20th century, had seen (and often instigated) more than its fair share of violent, non-triumphant happenings.

I was a freshman in high school when the Wall came down.  My German I class was the last of the day, if I remember correctly, and although it was my favorite class, I nevertheless was an ADHD-addled teenager without much interest in actually learning.  My German teacher, Frau Francik, entered the classroom, beaming, and said that something very important had happened.  She spent the entire hour explaining the history leading up to the day’s monumental event.  She shared her memories of leading a class trip to Germany and crossing Checkpoint Charlie, the designated border crossing for Americans between East and West Berlin.  We were impressed and not a little bit scared.

It wasn’t until my junior year of high school that our class had the opportunity to visit Germany over Spring Break.  Frau Francik decided to focus on just Bavaria this time around, saving a still-in-transition Berlin for another time perhaps.  Alas, I didn’t have the money to go, but I promised myself that one day, I would make it to Germany.

It was a promise I kept…many times over.

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Looking Forward and Back – Part One

Happy New Year! I hope your Christmakwanzaakuh was special, and I likewise hope you spent New Year’s Eve with someone special. As you may know, Loyal Reader, I spent my Christmas and New Year’s Eve holidays with family in Tennessee, and only just returned home to Mexico City yesterday evening.

The days between Christmas and New Year’s should be spent relaxing, of course, but should also be spent reflecting on the past 365 days, and on what you hope the next 365 will bring. Between hearty servings of zesty goulash, thin spaghetti, tender turkey, and light-as-a-feather mashed potatoes, (the turkey baked to perfection by my sister, who it turns out is one helluva good cook) I did just that. I do just that every year, in fact, but I don’t always learn much. It’s time to pay closer attention.

2012 highlights and lowlights

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