European Cities Ranked
This is fairly arbitrary
So, as my last post and in continuing with the idea of giving advice to future backpackers (and hopefully in the process telling you all a little about my experiences) I’ve decided to rank the different cities I went to in a variety of categories. Please note that I am know Madrid much better than any other city, having lived there for a month and a half, and am thus biased towards it, so I’ve omitted it unless it wasn’t first.
1)Best Traditional food
Rome—There is nothing quite like Italian in Italy. I still maintain that members of my family can cook better than the food I had, but as far as my travels went.Yum.
Madrid—Cañas y tapas any day of the week for me.
Paris—Les Croques Madames were amazing, and while half the time I wasn’t sure what I was ordering, it was good all the time.
Budapest—Spicy sausage and strong cheese. It certainly had its pizzazz.
Berlin—I just wasn’t as taken with the sausage as I thought I would be
Vienna—The traditional beef patty tasted just a little too much like rubber for my liking
2)Best food on the run (Kebabs, and other quickies)
Vienna—The Bratswurst was amazing after at the end of a night of partying and great for lunch the next day.
Berlin—Damn good Doner, despite some political differences I may have had with the people making them.
Rome—Pizza on the go, spectacular
Budapest—An alright Kebab, it certainly got the job done when you were hungry
Venice—Reheated cruddy pizza that was overpriced. Not my cup of tea.
Paris—Stay far away from Parisian pizzas and kebabs. Far far away.
3)Best Metro/Public transportation system
Vienna—By far the easiest to navigate, cleanest and safest subway I was on in my travels. Before every stop a little cathedral bell sounds and they announce the station. Very cool
Venice—One of its bright spots was its boat public transportation. I mean come on, you are on a boat going around Venice, how could it not be in the top three.
Paris—Tough at first because the city is so large and they have a lot of lines, but once you get the hang of it, you can get where you need to go
Berlin—Fairly easy to navigate, but some of the stations were questionable. Some of them reminded me of old school east Germany, which was cool, but not the safest feeling in the world.
Budapest—Just really really hard for an Anglophone to get around. Not much help from the locals in finding your way. Once you get the hang for it, its alright, but not the safest feeling by any means.
Rome-Awful and atrocious. I was in the metro once before I decided I’d walk for 5 hours before I got in it again. It smelled, was overcrowded, pickpockets were everywhere. Reminded me of the NYC subway system in the 80s. Stick with the busses.
Most Historically Significant
Rome—Hands down, I’ve never been so overwhelmed by historic significance ever in my entire life. Just walking through the Imperial Forum was a dream come true.
Paris—Gotta give it up here, if only for the L’ouvre and L’orsay which house some amazing amazing works of art.
Madrid—Prado, El Escorial. It definitely has its charms.
Vienna—From gun towers to the Hapsburgs, Vienna is chockfull of history.
Budapest—The castle district is overwhelming and the view of their parliament is to die for. Castles along the Danube (historic in itself). It has a great history.
Venice—Traditional clothing and traditional music could be heard from time to time, free museums that helped to explain the history probably also pushed this one past Berlin
Berlin—Outside of the Berlin wall, Holocaust memorial and a couple of restored buildings, I think we’d all agree Germany has a brighter future rather than past.
Most backpacker friendly (Cheapest)
Budapest—With a conversion rate of 1 euro to 250 forrent (sp?) You can live like a king for fairly cheap. (I lived more like a Duke)
Berlin—I suppose it helps that I stayed with friends rather than paying for my own place, but even the metro was easy to jump without paying (bad, but entirely too easy not to). Very cheap beer also.
Vienna—Cheap, but once you start with the coffee, you can’t stop. Getting around on the metro (sin pagar) was a lot like Berlin, easy to do
Rome—Cheap is sort of the opposite of life in Rome, but compared to Venice and Paris, accommodations weren’t that bad.
Paris—1.40 for a metro pass and no way to jump. Very pricey food and an expensive lifestyle, not so good for the penny-pincher
Venice—Tourist Haven=Pay out the *ss. Yes it was probably as bad if not worse than Paris, I didn’t even have a good meal there.
Mellow Mood (Budapest)—awesome common room bar, great staff, centrally located. You really get good bang for your buck. Very Clean.
Hostel Circumnait (Paris)—see above, definitely would be a lot better if their common room was a little larger. Awesome neighborhood. Very Clean.
Freedom Traveler (Rome)—Again see above. People were actually a little more close minded here than the other too, but cheap and clean.
Wombats (Vienna)—Good environment. Very American.
Hotel Marte (Venice)—Eh…no common room and slow slow service.
Nicest People (locals)—
Vienna—People would approach you, speak to you in English and try to help you get to where you were going. Very amiable. People were very easy to talk to in Cafes.
Berlin—Again, maybe it was just that I was staying with friends, but they were awesome people and so were there friends. Good times.
Paris—Despite the stereotype I found that a good-faithed effort to speak French got you by perfectly well.
Rome—Outside of the pickpocketers on the metro, it wasn’t that bad. People were happy to talk to you, so long as it was in Italian. Also, good luck crossing the street.
Venice—I don’t even think there were natives there.
Budapest—Yikes, I dunno the people I met seemed uninterested and borderline rude, with the exception of the one man that helped on the Metro. Even he warned, however, people were mean.
Most aesthetically pleasing
Vienna—Hands down that city was BEAUTIFUL to look at. Definitely in a class of its own. Even the least touristy place and most urban area had a real beauty to it.
Paris—Monmartre. Le tour d’eiffel. Champs d’eleysee. Need I say more?
Venice—Unbelievable. The city built in the sea. The canals were great. The narrow walkways were awesome when they weren’t full of tourists.
Budapest—The castle district was in a class of its own. The view of Parliament was amazing. Really Budapest, Paris and Venice could go in any order from 2-4.
Rome—It always makes me think of Rome, when the sunset hits the buildings… I like to say a prayer and drink to world peace. Actually outside of the ruins I wasn’t quite as impressed.
Berlin—Modernly pretty, but not quite over the whole addition of Eastern Berlin yet.
Overall Favorites—A word here, this is very tough and I really enjoyed my time in EVERY city. This list is pretty much just if someone put a gun to my head and said I could only see one of these cities one more time; this is the order I’d rank ‘em in. That said the first two are pretty much a toss up Vienna is a really close third.
Paris—It’s a real close one here with Rome and Vienna, but I think I’d have to say Paris if I absolutely had to. Yeah the sites and the museums were great, but it really did have a certain je ne se qoui about it. Plus it was great to speak and understand French
Rome—The history here is amazing. I think that alone ranks it up near the top. Add in the food and hearing Italian all the time and you get another first place finisher.
Vienna—If only to sit on a hill and look at the city. That, the coffee, and the people and you have a great great city. I definitely want to go back.
Budapest—Maybe a surprise finisher here, but it was a really cool town on the Danube with a great night life. I had an amazing time here and the sights would be worth seeing again.
Berlin—I think about 20 years from now this will be a great city. It might just be a little soon since the combination. The lack of real historic sights to see, also hurt it in the rankings.
Venice—Poor city, came in dead last almost every time. It is a great city, but not somewhere I’d recommend going alone. That said I still had a great time there and wouldn’t trade in my time for there for the world.
So, C’est ca. Guys thanks so much for reading and emailing me. Special thanks to family, (especially, mom, dad, gran, UB, AB, and Katie) friends and of course to KB for supporting me in my travels and my time here in Europe. It was indeed a journey of a life time and I am very glad to have partaken in it. I could pull a Jshlo (lets see if she even sees this) and turn this into a live log journal, but I’m not traveling around anymore and if you wanna know how I’m doing, you all know where to find me in New York, my final destination.
If you’ve noticed, I published this in the good ol’ USA.