Wednesday, February 03, 2010

The Lure of Cities

There are those who relish adventure travel that takes them to the wilds of the Amazon or battling altitude sickness to scale the highest mountain peaks. Others journey to remote Borneo or marvel at icy Antarctica. In my youth, perhaps, this type of travel appealed more to me but, in my "mature" years, I find myself seeking out the world's great cities. I am slowly getting to see a few of them.

Sydney ( Australia ) - some Sydney facts:

This spectacular multicultural city is the capital of New South Wales and was the first European settlement in Australia.

The famed Sydney Opera House is a landmark known to many cruise passengers. Its Opera Australia ranks as the 3rd busiest opera company in the world!

There are more than seventy beaches in this area so popular with young and old alike.

Sydney has a temperate climate.

It is the home of many cultural events of various ethnicities, the Sydney Film Festival, and Australian Fashion Week.

The city thrives with entertainment venues, excellent restaurants, parks, and outdoor activities.

Rugby is the most popular sport in Sydney.

The University of Sydney is Australia's oldest university and the city houses five other public universities.

Looking toward Sydney & the Circular Quay from the Sydney Opera House

The Sydney Opera House
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Waterways near Sydney, Australia

The Old and The New - old buildings near the Sydney Tow
photo credit

The Sydney Harbor Bridge

A Beautiful Moreton Bay Fig in a Sydney Park
photo credit

."Tokyo ( Japan )- some Tokyo facts:

One of the largest cities in the world, this is the de facto capital of Japan and is home to the Japanese Imperial Family and is the seat of the Japanese government

Tokyo grew from the small fishing village of Edo.

Tokyo prefecture is made up of twenty-three special wards, twenty-six cities which are part of western Tokyo and numerous outlying island. There are also four national parks within Tokyo.

Tokyo ranks as one of the top three financial centers in the world and its urban railway network leads the world. Tokyo trains are clean as well as efficient.

Festivals of every kind are celebrated in Tokyo, from the world famous cherry blossom events at various parks to the Sanja Festival in May. This three day event held at Asakusa Shrine draws nearly two million people, with parades of portable shrines, each carrying a deity, and drinking, dancing onlookers.

Tokyo hosts ancient and modern performing arts such as noh, a classical musical drama, beginning in the 14th century to kabuki, with its elaborate makeup, beginning in the 1600's to the symphony, rock and roll venues and other forms of entertainment.

Its restaurants are superb. In fact, it topped Paris two to one in Michelin stars in their 2007 restaurant guide, a fact I feel certain the French had difficulty living down!

Of course, we are all familiar with Japanese sumo wrestlers but Tokyo also has two baseball teams and has venues that host international sporting events of every kind - including the Olympics.

A trip to Tokyo isn't complete without a 5:30AM visit to Tsukiji Fish Market, the biggest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world. It is an area of frenzied activity, with hundreds of thousands of pounds of fish being bought and sold. After watching the action, you can stop at one of the little shops or restaurants on the periphery for a breakfast of sashimi and sake before heading home for a little sleep.

Sensoji Temple and Pagoda at Asakusa, Tokyo

Tokyo Fire Hydrant

High Tech Tokyo Toilet

Early morning at Tsukiji Fish Market

Awa Odori Dance Festival
photo credit benoist

Tokyo City View From The Mori Tower
photo credit benoist

Christmas Time in Shinjuku
photo credit benoist

Stockholm ( Sweden ) - some Stockholm facts:

Stockholm is a beautiful city, situated on fourteen islands where the Baltic Sea and Lake Maarlen and the Baltic Sea meet.

It is Sweden's largest city, its capital, the seat of Parliament, and the home of the monarchy. King Carl XVI Gustaf is the king of Sweden and his wife, Silvia, is queen.

Because of its location in the far north, Stockholm experiences only about six hours of daylight at the winter solstice, increasing to eighteen hours of daylight by the summer solstice. Summer is a wonderful time to visit as temperatures remain mild. Winter temperatures drop into the 20's.

Because of its lack of industry and factories, Stockholm remains a clean city. It is a financial center with a number of high technology companies. Stockholm is also a multicultural area with three UNESCO world heritage sites: the Royal Palace Drottningholm,which is the private residence of the Swedish Royal family, Birka and Hovgrden, part of the Viking trading network, and the Skogskyrkogrden (The Woodland Cemetery).

Stockholm is a city of contrasts - the new and the old. The medieval city, Old Town, with its cobblestones, dates back to the 13th century. Here one finds the Stockholm Cathedral and the baroque Royal Palace. There are dozens of restaurants in this area.

Modern Stockholm, or "Venice of the North" as it is often called, is a city of broad streets, lovely parks, and a new city hall built in the early 1900's. There are very few slums in Stockholm.

The Central Inner Harbor
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Gamla Stan ( historical town center )

Kungsholmen with Stadshuset (City Hall) at night
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Old Architecture Meets New Architecture
Town Centre
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These are just three of the world's special cities that I have been privileged to visit. Others that I've seen come to mind - Mumbai, Barcelona, Paris, Honolulu, Auckland, Montevideo, Zurich, Bangkok....the list goes on and on - each one unique and special with its hidden delights. I just hope that I live long enough to see some of the others on my list of "must see" cities.


  1. Thank so much for sharing those photos and texts with us. I got surprised and glad !!!



  2. Oh I love this post, makes me want to pack my suitcase and just go.......:-) Hugs

  3. Anonymous4:48 PM

    Learning Japanese for about a year now, Tokio was for sure of interest. Being currently a bit stuck here in Athens, your small escapes of a pure delight. Please have a wonderful Thursday.

  4. I would love to see all those cities, especially Sydney, but now I must get to Tokyo to see those toilets!

  5. You are one lucky traveler! Beautiful post, Carmen.

  6. Seeing and reading this makes me want to personally see all of these cities. Since I probably will never get to go to any of them, I'm glad for your post, and I'm glad I can see things like this on the internet.

  7. 2 places are have always wanted to go is australia and japan. they just look so gorgeous. hope you had some great adventures there,

    Tina from
    Gossip Avenue
    Travel Shack
    Mummy Diaries
    Game FreakZ

  8. This was a wonderful tour of the world for me. Such beautiful places, and interesting things to learn about..