It’s not all that rare to visit a place you’ve never been before and immediately fell at home. That’s the great thing about traveling – even the lost wanderers can be found. For me, this is also the case. I’ve roamed the world in search of meaning and somewhere along the way I found 5 places that effortlessly felt like home.
This Chilean coastal city continues to amaze me. It’s not everyday that you stumble upon a city that prides itself on out-of-this world street art. Here in Valparaiso, this is just another hobby for the creative geniuses that call Valpo their home. During the month I spent traveling through Chile and Argentina, we decided to include a few coastal cities even though it was cold, rainy and essentially deserted. I had no idea that I would feel so at home in Valpo but every element that contributes to the overal vibe of the city made me feel brand new. It turned out to be an ideal time to visit because it was just us and the locals. We met a few people, lazily drank coffee from hilltop cafes and even stumbled upon an impromptu Bassa Nova performance at a nearby library. Once I master the Spanish language, I’d love to live in Valparaiso for a month…or several.
This is probably a town most of you have never heard of and one I definitely never knew existed. It’s actually a town outside Tucumán, a city in central Argentina. I went here to visit my boyfriend’s family and I’m so glad I did because otherwise I would have never stumbled upon this tiny town. There’s nothing in particular about Concepción that makes it more special than other Argentinian towns but it immediately felt like home. We walked through the entire town in just a few hours, drank coffee in the main square (which actually has free Wi-Fi) and ate more empanadas that I’d like to count. If you do find yourself here one day, you must eat the empanadas – they are notoriously delicious in and around the Tucumán province.
I write about London a lot so of course the rainy city makes it onto my list. I spent a semester in college living and working here and gained a lot of confidence and independence by wandering the streets solo. I am aware, however, that this feeling could easily have been associated with other cities and towns. Almost all of my friends who also studied abroad seem to have had a similar experience. Whether I was in London or Madrid or Sydney, the experience of living in another country is a tough one to beat. When I returned to London two years later, I saw the city differently. It was still like coming home to see an old friend but like any old friend, there’s both a distance and yet a strange familiarity that can’t be broken. I had a love affair with London and a part of me will always belong there.
I’m not sure if it’s because I’m distantly related to French Royalty or simply because I can’t resist a walk along the Seine, but as soon as I stepped foot in Paris for the first time I felt like I had been here before. I’ve heard similar stories from other travelers but I’ve also heard about people being underwhelmed by the city of lights. If I could spend all day listening to local street performers as I gaze at Paris from the steps of the Sacre Coeur, I’m pretty sure I’d have no legitimate reason to complain…about anything. I remember this memory I have of walking along the Champs-Elysees one night near Christmas time and seeing this thin, bungled up French woman racing along in her heels, one arm clutching her designer purse, the other cradling a cigarette. I looked at her as the quintessential Parisian and it struck me so much that to this day I envision her when I think of chic elegance.
Clearly, if I wasn’t constantly inspired by New York I wouldn’t choose to live here. It’s not an easy place to be and not everyone finds the dirty streets appealing. To me, there an inner glow that radiates from the people here and this spark sets my own dreams ablaze. I really have nothing bad to say about New York. Instead, I’m so grateful that I made the leap of faith to move to this crazy city jobless, apartment-less and completely along. Knowing nobody made me work that much harder to make friends and become more of a go-getter in life in general. It’s easy to become jaded after a few years living the dream in New York but there are times when I just look outside my window and smile ear to ear for no reason at all. I’ve often felt a bit misunderstood, an outcast if you will. But New York is the place where the outcast fits in – and I’m so glad to have found my place.
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