Because my parents have always loved adventuring around the world, I've been fortunate enough to travel copiously throughout my lifetime. I've grown to love immersing myself into new cultures, whether it be through food, music, or local flea markets. But what I love most about traveling is observing and embracing how distinct each environment is from my own hometown.
Hence, these are my favorite cities I've visited so far.
1. Seoul, South Korea
Because my family is from Korea, I've been able to visit Seoul quite often. Every time I visit, I'm always amazed by the juxtaposition of a bustling, thriving city with mountainous terrain and traditional architecture standing from centuries past. In just a matter of minutes, you can go from sitting in an aesthetic cafe decorated with marble tables and fun lighting to standing under a wooden temple roof and admiring Joseon Dynasty structures.
2. Paris, France
The one time I was able to stay in Paris, it felt as if I was walking into a movie set. The cobblestone streets, warm bakery smell coating the air, detailed, Victorian-era buildings, and of course, the Eiffel Tower, were all sights that I had only seen through screens. In person, these structures exceeded my expectations. All in all, I felt like I had floated into a dreamland. And when rain fell, the city seemed infinitely more beautiful and mystical.
3. Venice, Italy
Though the stereotype of Venice becoming increasingly flooded by tourists and too crowded to enjoy can be true at times, straying off the more popular streets and exploring smaller areas can provide for a more authentic, enjoyable experience. In fact, my parents and I decided not to use a map for the majority of our stay in Venice, choosing instead to get lost exploring the labyrinthine waterways. And for a moment, sitting by the water and watching the sun sink into the sea, I thought I was at the edge of the world.
4. Vik, Iceland
Vik is a city that can truly cleanse your body and soul. With the diamond beach, whose black sand shimmers with crystalline mini icebergs, the many waterfalls along the Ring Road, and all of the other landmarks I visited, I was amazed that such beauty could exist in natural, untouched structures. As someone who has always lived near cities, it was interesting and rejuvenating to be in a city where nature surrounded me. Though I wouldn't consider myself an extremely outdoorsy person, traveling to Iceland was definitely worth the fresh, crisp air and complete change of scenery.