Top Ten Mid-Sized European Cities

For a blog that is largely about travel, I have written surprisingly little about Europe.  And yet, with the exception of a few Baltic and Balkan states, and such tiny, hard-to-reach republics as Andorra and San Marino, I’ve been almost everywhere on the continent.  I have decided to share more stories from that corner of the globe.

In many ways, my favorite European cities are those places that are large enough to have decent nightlife and restaurants, a good network of hostels, and a few days’ worth of sightseeing…but not so big as to be overwhelming.  Fewer than one million residents, let’s say.  Not every city on the list below fits all of the aforementioned categories; Venice, for one, had just two hostels at the time of my visit, and the city went to bed early.  Nuremberg, for that matter, had just one hostel.  Of course, both cities had – have – restaurants and museums aplenty, and atmosphere to spare.

I look forward to continuing the series.  Meanwhile, here are my Top Ten Mid-Sized European Cities:

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Paris, je te aime

Eiffel Tower 27

The nation of France – and Paris in particular – has had a tough week.  On Wednesday, radical Islamist terrorists gunned down twelve employees of the Paris-based magazine Charlie Hebdo, allegedly in retaliation for that magazine’s publication of satirical cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad.  One suspect turned himself in and two others – brothers who were once under surveillance until the French government decided it simply had too many “persons of interest” to continue monitoring the ones it was already keeping tabs on – were ultimately hunted down and killed.

The manhunt was well underway by international authorities, and makeshift memorials of flowers and candles were already being left near the magazine offices, when it happened again on Thursday: a policewoman, just 26, was gunned down by one of the suspects in the suburb of Montrouge.

And again on Friday.  The killings returned to Paris-proper when two terrorists gunned down four people inside a kosher grocery store in a predominantly-Jewish section of Paris.  One terrorist was killed in a standoff but the second, a female, is still at large and is believed to have since fled to Syria.

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