Visiting or living in other countries is something I love to do. Experiencing new climates and cultures, seeing amazing landscapes and architectural masterpieces, trying different cuisines, and tasting exotic delicacies is even more incredible in practice than it sounds in theory. Today I thought I would share with you some of my favorite places in this big and beautiful world.
Being an American citizen, I have to start with the good old U.S. of A. One of the things I love about the states is the incredible diversity in everything. Climates vary from state to state. From the humid subtropical climate of Florida to the arctic climate of Alaska, you can find a bit of everything. A melting pot country, you can see bits and pieces of a variety of cultures brought in by the early settlers and the immigrants. Due to the diversity, you can find the handmade products and the rich cuisines of just about every country you can imagine readily available in most of the bigger cities.
Speaking of cities, I’ll list a few of my favorites: Santa Fe, New Mexico; Pagosa Springs, Colorado; San Francisco, California; Chicago, Illinois; New York City, New York; Bangor, Maine; Miami, Florida; Washington D.C.; Las Vegas, Nevada; St. Louis, Missouri; New Orleans, Louisiana.
Now, onto the world at large…
Antwerp, Bruges, Brussels
Belgium is a fantastic country to live in and a beautiful country to visit. The countryside offers the typical European feel with rolling hills, colorful flowers, and many cottage-style homes. The Flanders of northern Belgium are the nicest people you will ever meet. From a neighbor filling my lawnmower and mowing my lawn while I went for gas to baked pies being delivered when I moved into my house, their generosity never ceased to amaze me.
The culture is rich in Belgium and they are well known for a few specialties. As is the case with Germans, Belgians take their beer very seriously; each town has its own brewery and they make some of the best beer in the world. Have you ever tried Belgian chocolates? They are delicious morsels of wonder. Antwerp is the diamond capital of the world, trading nearly $50 billion in diamonds each year. Bruges is the lace capital of the world, crafting doilies to dresses to parasols. Brussels, a center of international governance and business, is the “capital of Europe.”
Central in Europe, Germany, The Netherlands, Luxembourg, England, and France are a short drive, train ride, or flight away. If you’re planning a European holiday, Belgium would be the perfect place to start.
Azerbaijan, a former Soviet republic, is bounded by the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus Mountains. It is a beautiful nation with scenic backdrops and a unique culture. As is the case with Italy, meals are considered a social engagement with groups of people sitting around long tables filled with delectable food eating and conversing for hours.
Baku is my city of choice in Azerbaijan. The best way I can describe it is to tell you to imagine the stunning, modernistic architecture of Dubai meeting the historic, Gothic ruins of Rome. Walk down one street and you’ll see the ruins of fort walls. Walk down another and you’ll see one futurist building after the other. Directly adjacent to the Caspian Sea, the views in any direction are spectacular. Google it and decide for yourself.
Aside from the glorious landscapes and magnificent structures, the nightlife in Baku is top-notch. You can drink and dine on rotating rooftop bars with panoramic views of the city, record your own karaoke performances, dance in upbeat clubs, watch beautiful go-go dancers, or chill in an upscale martini lounge.
Holland is steeped in culture and history. Birthplace of Freddy Heineken (1923-2002), the father of the famous beer company, and temporary shelter of Anne Frank (1929-1945), Amsterdam is world-renowned for its colorful history, though it is most famous for its controversial Red Light District.
As with many other European countries, the landscape and architecture are breathtaking. Take a ride down the canal in a gondola piloted by a gondolier. Visit the many museums and take a tour of the Anne Frank House. Enjoy a delicious meal alfresco while you watch the locals ride by on their bicycles. There is so much to see and do that I can’t possibly list it all here.
The nightlife in Amsterdam is off the chain! With a liberal mentality, pretty much anything you can think of is on the menu. I went to The Bulldog Café hoping to get something for dinner; when I asked to see the menu, it was not what I expected. Listed with prices were hash, opium, and a variety of other drugs… no food at all. If that’s your thing, then Amsterdam is your city. Take a tour of the Red Light District, visit The Sex Museum, or go to a live sex show if you can stomach it. Out of sheer curiosity, I did it all.
I’m going to end it here, but if this post gets enough “likes,” I’ll post more about my adventures around the world including cities like Rome, Paris, and London, and countries like Germany, Luxembourg, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Australia, South Korea, and Cambodia.
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