Good City

Husband and I spent six days in Tacoma last week, with a couple of days on the Olympic Peninsula. The trip to the peninsula was rather more eventful than we wished, with daughter slipping into a deep tidepool and breaking her wrist, but, overall, it was a great trip.

Our Tacoma hotel overlooked Commencement Bay on Puget Sound. The city has made a nice development free and open to the public along the Sound, full of piers, shops, restaurants, running paths, and green space for people, pets, otters, sea birds, and sea lions to coexist. We watched sail boats, container ships, canoeists, and paddle boarders. I saw otters swimming around close to shore.

I took the header photo from our hotel room window. Just below our window we had a lovely view of a large cement area about the size of half of a basketball court that had recessed colored lights and sprays of water shooting out that all members of the public could access. Children, dogs, skate boarders, and adults ran through it. Lots of people sat on benches and talked. We also watched lots of bicyclists of all ages along the path that borders the Sound by the hotel, and families with small children in strollers. There was ample, free public parking. What we most appreciated was the diversity of ages, races, and income groups amongst the revelers. This area was meant for all, and not just for the privileged. On our last evening it looked as though the whole city had come for a visit. Husband commented that this is what a city should be like.

What are your favorite cities to visit?

64 thoughts on “Good City”

  1. Jane’s an Elvis fan, and I’m a Southern music fan. So on honeymoon in 2002, we stayed three nights of our trip at the Heartbreak Hotel, right opposite Graceland, and did the whole Elvis thing. Surprisingly moving for me. My main aim, and a lifetime ambition, was to visit 706 Union Avenue, Memphis, home of the Sun studio. And we did that, I stood on the spot Elvis stood when he recorded “That’s all Right,” saw everything, and heard recordings I’d never heard before. A very successful, moving visit, which I’m still not over. Going by the tears I’m shedding right now. It was coincidentally the week of the Tyson /Lewis fight, so Beale Street had been in full swing all week. Turned out that normally they’d only wake up at weekends. We weren’t the only ones didn’t go to the fight, because the whole town kept buzzing just the same. I still want to go back to Memphis.
    We left Sunday and drove to Natchez, Clarksdale, and Baton Rouge, before ending up in New Orleans for the last few days. It was great, but we never saw a sign of the Fat Man, a great disappointment to me. I mean, I couldn’t expect him to wait around for when I showed up one day, but there wasn’t a sign that he even existed, beyond a t shirt I spotted on a stall. And I felt then, that whereas in Memphis the accent had been on music, in New Orleans it was just as much “Look how crazy we are.” But this was before Tuba Skinny and the Shotgun Jazz Band and I’d love to go back again now. So that’s Memphis and New Orleans, music all the way.

    Liked by 7 people

  2. I’ve traveled to cities so rarely that I shouldn’t express an opinion here. I liked San Francisco, Seattle, Montreal and New York . . . but wasn’t blown away by them.

    Toronto was different. It struck me as a beautiful, clean, vibrant city. Toronto is safe and walkable, especially at night.

    My top pick has to be New Orleans. If you want to travel to any place in the US that feels like a foreign culture, New Orleans is it. What a city for music and food! On our last morning in New Orleans we were out early to pick up beignets and coffee when we passed an old black man sitting on a sidewalk, his back to the wall of a French Quarter art gallery. He wore Bermuda shorts below and a Santa outfit from the waist up, beard included, while he played a soulful saxophone version of the Elvis classic “I’ll have a blue Christmas without you.”

    Liked by 7 people

  3. OT:I did hesitate before writing this, but I’ll go ahead. I realise that in a lot of posts, I tend to be wearing my heart on my sleeve, to a greater extent than I would in the YouTube comments section, say. But I suppose it’s what I do when I trust people.

    Liked by 4 people

        1. That’s a fun way to do it if you do it backwards my museums mine would be
          Washington DC with the Smithsonian and the national museum
          Chicago Institute of arts
          Amsterdam the van Gogh Museum and ann frank house
          Minneapolis for the walker
          the louvre in paris
          the tate in london
          the spot in florence
          san fransisco museum escapes my mtmiry

          favorite cities without museums
          livingston montana
          banff canada
          mendocino california
          sandra disco
          florence italy
          doolin ireland
          emily colorado
          new orleans
          homer alaska
          hong kong
          taos new mexico
          ely mn

          enough and late

          Liked by 2 people

  4. Rise and Shine Baboons!

    It is fun to have a non-COVID travel post, Renee (despite the dastardly broken wrist). VS bravely ventured out last summer to experience travel that seemed to be absent of other people. I so missed the freedom to travel over the last 18 months.

    Some cities are travel-friendly while others seem disinterested in attracting visitors. I have blathered on before about Savannah, GA, so I will skip that. Seattle was an interesting and stimulating city to visit, redolent with pot smoke, and so limited by its own geography and economy. The same Mt.Olympus documented by Renee, dominates the landscape. I loved the stories of its early settlement when water was the element which required management and taming. The city makes that history accessible to tourists with a walking tour of the areas first occupied by white settlers. The Native Americans there had enough sense not to settle in a large mud puddle.

    Several weekends ago I returned to my hometown in Iowa. While I enjoyed being there and seeing it again, my primary response to it was relief that I did not stay there. My beloved Twin Cities are by far my favorite city in which to live. Big enough for all my favorite features and a small enough city to enjoy without burdensome congestion.

    Liked by 8 people

    1. You’re echoing pretty accurately what’s going through my mind, Jacque. I know for certain that I what I would pick as a favorite city (or locale), would depend to a very large extent of the frame of mind I was in when responding.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Kelly grew up near a tiny little town over by Fairmont in southwestern Minnesota. Every time we go back there I think thank goodness we don’t live around here. There’s really not much going on. This really nice lakes, and nothing wrong with visiting. Wouldn’t want to live there.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Those lakes are shallow as a bird bath, though, and now they are filled with nitrates from farm run off. We just were through there on our way to Okoboji.

        Liked by 3 people

        1. We spent time by Lake Crescent on the Olympic Peninsula, a beautiful sapphire blue glacial lake that has a lovely color because there is no nitrogen laden agricultural runoff in it. Husband swam.

          Liked by 2 people

  5. We’ve enjoyed Chicago, Seattle, and even Minneapolis. But I wouldn’t want to live in any of them. It’s always interesting to me because we live in the country we vacation in the city. The rest of my family lives in the city and wants to vacation in the country.

    Liked by 3 people

        1. I think if you live around here, the differences stand out. St. Paul has a distinctly neighborhood-y feel if it’s familiar to you. I like the lakes in Minneapolis, and Minnehaha Parkway.

          Liked by 1 person

  6. Toronto charmed us completely on a honeymoon visit in 1978 so we’ve come back every 10 years to celebrate milestone anniversaries. On our last trip, the surprise highlight was the Hockey Hall of Fame. My wife loved it more than me and I’m a huge hockey fan.

    Banff, Alberta is great if there were only half the number of people there than usual. It’s clean, modern, lots of interesting shops we don’t see in MN (albeit pricey and tourist/souvenir-related. But dozens of unique restaurants. But I mainly like Banff because that means I’m going to be getting up into the mountains for spectacular hiking and sightseeing and meditative reflection on my insignificant significance in the universe.

    Grand Marais of course (common knowledge in this group). One of my happy places.

    A surprise charmer that we visited on a spur of the moment overnight was Dubuque Iowa. A lovely old river town.

    Santa Fe is a terrific combination of different cultures, art, outdoor activities, and great food. I’m partial to high desert terrain like that where it’s mountainous, dry, and not too hot.

    Washington DC makes the list because of its historical significance, government museums, and other buildings to visit (like the Capitol, the various memorials, and the White House).

    Colorado Springs used to be a great town to visit before the population exploded in the 2000s and it has become sort of “Denver South.” Far too crowded.

    I always enjoy stopping overnight in Rapid City SD on our way west. Beautiful location, interesting blend of the cowboy West and modern life. Lots of scenery and great views just driving around.

    Sioux Falls is another hidden gem. VIbrant culture, improving food scene, bigger and more cosmopolitan than you’d think.

    I’ll probably think of more but I’ve droned on long enough.

    Chris in Owatonna

    Liked by 3 people

  7. My mind is jumping around like a jackrabbit in heat. What do I go with? In the end, it is the experience(s) I had when I was in that particular place that I remember. Was I there long enough to see and experience what it was like to live there, and do I even care? Who were the people I hung out with? Did food, music, art, romance, historic buildings, weather, or the natural beauty of the setting affect how I remember it? Chances are my memories are colored by a combination of all of the above.

    One of the frustrations I have with an exercise like this is that by picking just a couple of places I’ve been, I’m leaving out so many others, including places I haven’t and probably never will visit.

    Bern in the Swiss Alps has to be among the most beautiful cities I’ve ever visited. On the other hand I distinctly recall saying to my friend, Lisa, as we were looking out over the hills in Marin County, California, that that was my idea of heaven. But don’t get me started on exploring all of the nooks and crannies of my beloved Copenhagen. I’m grateful for the treasure trove of places I have visited, and perhaps even more so of the ones I haven’t and probably never will. Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos may be engaged in a race to space, I’m perfectly content to explore what’s right here on Mother Earth.

    Liked by 4 people

  8. Hong Kong, in the 1960s, about 700 miles from our home in Manila. The airport was a scary place to land (one of the most dangerous in the world at the time) but the town was a great place to explore – full of shops, a bearded Sikh policeman on practically every corner, interesting people from all over …

    You can find one of my memories in a segment from Silken Thread on my WordPress blog.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I think both you and Chris have alluded to an important consideration, the intersection of time and place. Over the years that has been one of my primary hesitations about visiting old haunts. They’ve changed, and so have I. I don’t have the courage to visit some of the places that occupy a lot of real estate in my mind because I know I’d be disappointed. Given enough time, people will screw up just about everything in the name of progress or improvement.

      Liked by 4 people

        1. John, have you lived in Asia since 1956? I’m guessing you must have been just a kid? Either that or you are in your nineties. I’d love to hear more of your background.

          Liked by 3 people

        2. I’m 71. I lived in Manila from 1956 until 1968. Did grade 1 through 12 at an international school there. Amazon has a short bio on my authors page you can read, and you can read the first few chapters of silken thread for free. That part of the story is semi-autobiographical.

          Liked by 2 people

        1. Tim, only you watching yourself in a big plane come down between those two mountains onto that short runway would think that was exhilarating.

          Liked by 2 people

  9. My erstwife (who happens to be in Paris today) has traveled extensively for business. I take her opinions seriously. She hated Tokyo and considers Shanghai her favorite city to visit. We adored London when we were there in the 1970s. She always has fun in Paris.

    The city outside the US I have most enjoyed was Edinburgh. We had a fairytale sort of experience there, with perfect weather, rich local culture and friendly people. I think we might have been lucky, but we couldn’t have had a better experience anywhere.

    Liked by 4 people

  10. There are few cities I’ve visited more than once and in any sort of depth, certainly not thoroughly enough to issue an encomium. Some of those cities I visited for work with experiences happy or otherwise but most of those experiences had little to do specifically with the city. We’ve been, I think, to San Francisco and its environs more often than to any other city. Most of the time we stayed in Berkeley and traveled into the city on Bart. Berkeley had a nice vibe. But the San Francisco I’d most like to go back to is San Francisco in the 1970s or ’80s. I suspect it wouldn’t be the same anymore as my memories of it.
    Other cities we’ve enjoyed, like Edinburgh, where we spent a couple of days and walked from one end of the city to the other, were memorable but we were ready to leave when we did. Likewise Florence. We visited Montreal and Quebec City in succession and generally preferred Montreal as more genuine, though we stayed mostly in old Quebec and didn’t see much of the modern city.
    The things that have stayed with us from our visits to cities both foreign and domestic have mostly been happenstance—people we met, funny mishaps, magical little corners—that are difficult to attribute to a particular city and wouldn’t be replicable on a subsequent visit anyway.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. My sister, another Jane, used to rave about Cambridge for some reason. I gather it is a lovely place, but when I announced we were moving to Southampton, she also praised that city. In 17 years I didn’t discover one good thing about the place, other than a few good friends I made, so not sure how reliable she is.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. My father was stationed near Cambridge during the war. He loved it. He was an honorary member of the Romsey Town Labour club. He loved wandering around at the various schools when he could.

        Liked by 2 people

  11. OT-Daughter finally got in at a competent orthopedic clinic. She will be casted for 5 weeks. No surgery. It will be a fingers free cast, so I assume she can drive.

    Liked by 4 people

  12. Visiting Rome is the nearest thing to time travel. The Sistina Chapel at the Vatican was a highlight for me. There is an elevator but we (ex-wife and myself) chose the stairs. It starts out fairly wide but narrows with the climb. At the top, a small door opens and the spectacular Michelangelo ceiling unfolds. Look to the right see the Last Judgement. I looked extensively at the floors wondering how long it would take me to lay those tiles.
    Another highlight was attending a Serie A match between Roma and Milan. The atmosphere was amazing. Soccer fans are intense which is contagious. I was exhausted by the end.
    The side trips to Florence and Pompeii were more opportunities to look down at mosaics.

    Liked by 6 people

  13. So many.., I don’t know how to narrow it down. Banff and Montreal have already been mentioned. Barcelona for sure- unbelievable architecture and food. London is a great walking city… great history. Austin – quirky, great music. Singapore – not sure how to explain, but Singapore was fascinating. St. Petersburg – canals, statues, poet cemeteries. All wonderful, but I’m always glad to come home!

    Liked by 3 people

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