Friday, February 20, 2015

The Absolute Official Ranking of the 10 Best European Cities, Part 2

A few months ago I created a list of what I consider to be the top five best European cities. (Read it here.) As a review they are: Prague, Budapest, Verona, Paris, and Venice. So, here is my long awaited part 2.

Number 6: Lucerne
My second year in Prague, we attended an educators' conference in Germany. One afternoon, there were several different excursion options that we could sign up to attend. I chose to go to Lucerne, Switzerland. Think quaint, fairytale-ish. And since it's Switzerland, definitely think chocolate. Even though it was a cold, snowy day, this city definitely makes my top ten.

What to see: The Lion Monument, Stroll the streets and explore
What to eat: CHOCOLATE (It is Switzerland)--although, get it from a grocery store--it's cheaper than the tourist locations.

Number 7: Salzburg
Last spring break, my roommate deserted me to go to Turkey for a conference. I decided to adventure out on my on and go someplace I had always wanted to visit, and by "always" I mean since the first time I watched "The Sound of Music". I skipped the "Sound of Music" tour and decided to find the places on their own. One thing I recommend if you are planning on visiting quite a few places in any city--look into getting the city's card. Often times it can be a great value, because you will get free admission or discounts. If you are planning to go enough places, it really ends up paying for itself. And most of them also include public transit. Bonus!

What to see: Are you a classical music person or a musical fan? If you are a "Sound of Music" fanatic, check out the many sights from the film. If you love classical music, you can visit Mozart's birthplace, as well as another house where he lived. I was also recommend Helbrunn Palace. Take the tour of the Trick Fountains, but also be prepared to get very wet!

Number 8: Rome
Rome was a wonderful Thanksgiving Get Away where partook in very non-traditional Thanksgiving meals of pizza and pasta. And gelato, of course. It would be hard for me to really choose a favorite part of Rome. I found the Colosseum fascinating, as was the Roman Forum. One of the most striking parts for me was the Arch of Titus, which was built to commemorate the Siege of Jerusalem. Well, that and the Sistine Chapel, which holds my all time favorite painting, "The Creation of Adam".

What to eat: My favorie gelato place in the world is located in Rome: Il Gelato di San Crispino. SO GOOD! We also enjoyed Trattoria Gioia Mia Pisciapiano and Bar del Cappuccino.

What to See: The Colosseum, The Vatican, The Roman Forum, The Pantheon, The Spanish Steps, The Trevi Fountain...I could go on...maybe it would be easier to make a "What not to See" list.

Number 9: Nice
There was this one time when I spent spring break in the French Riviera. Take that all you Florida and Cancun-ers! We had heard mixed reviews before we went, but I ended up liking it. We were right in the middle of Old Town. Really close to Monaco (Princess Grace was one of my favorite actresses!). Right on the Mediterranean.

What to eat: Nice is really close to Italy, so enjoy Italian food. Also, there is quite a bit of sea food, as well.

What to see: If you are a Grace Kelly fanatic like me, enjoy a visit to Monaco. In Nice, Castle Hill was once of our favorite spots--sweeping views of the city and sea. Also, stroll along the Promenade des Anglais.

Number 10: Milan
I really debated over what my number 10 city was. Milan is typically a love it or hate it city. I don't LOVE it, but I don't HATE it. That being said, I would go back to Milan in a heart beat. Why?

What to eat: MY NUMBER 1 REASON FOR WANTING TO RETURN TO MILAN: Luini's Panzerotti. Think hot pocket only not a gross and a million times better!

What to see: Well, there is the obvious: shopping. However, my second reason for loving Milan is that it is home to one of my favorite paintings: The Last Supper. The third reason: the Duomo di Milano--the cathedral. It is beautiful. Although, personally, I think you could skip the inside and just go explore the roof, which was one of my favorite things that we did. The final reason I love Milan--it's a gateway to so many other parts of Italy. Go to Cinque Terre (I want to go there) or Lake Como (another place I want to go) or Verona (featured previously on the list). Enjoy beautiful Italia.

I'm sure as I explore other places, this list will evolve and change. But for right now, this has been my top ten favorite. (Honorable mention to London--I was only able to explore for about 4 1/2 hours while on a layover, but I would love to go back!)