I started thinking about how can cities colour your travels when I was reading the Qantas Inflight Magazine on a flight to Queensland last year. I read an article about cities that coloured artist John Olsen’s life.
But before I started to read it, I sat back for a moment to reflect on what cities have coloured my life. After travelling to 70 countries, there were a lot of cities to consider!
The first city to jump to mind was London. Perhaps because I lived and worked there for 18 months.
The way the city coloured my life was its theatre culture. I grew up in Perth, the only city on the west coast of Australia. As its not as populated as the east coast, we therefore missed out on a lot of international music concerts and theatre performances. However, its much better these days though.
My first visit to the theatre was to see Les Miserable. Absolute brilliance. I’ve seen it three times since, at the same Palace Theatre. Stage performances had me so mesmerised that I had to see more.
So I began a weekly ritual of heading to the Soho or West End districts every Saturday night and seeing a different show. I had to soak in as much as I could before my visa expired.
Venice by foot or water!
Venice (Venezia) in Italy is another city that had a profound effect on me. I also visited this city three times!
The city fascinated me in that one could only explore by foot or water. I loved getting lost in the maze like cobbled streets, with some streets quite narrow. Getting lost is the best way to explore because it was difficult to follow the maps. The streets weaved around in all sorts of directions and you never ended up where you thought you should be. But this is great because you discover cute little bars, cafes and art galleries.
Travelling by gondola was great too. I didn’t find it so romantic but then again I was single at the time. It was nice to view the intricate buildings from the comfort of a gondola but I got more enjoyment exploring by foot.
Also, it was so nice to not hear the bustling noise of cars and buses as you do in a ‘normal’ city. It was almost like being on another planet.
TG Tip: if you are budget conscious, then don’t eat in the touristy San Marco square as they charge $15 just to sit down. Go for the little Venetian bars and cafes in the smaller alleyways. Plus, if you’re under 29 years of age, checkout the discounts on offer with the Rolling Venice card . Find other handy Italy travel tips here.
Time Travelling in Prague
Visiting Prague in Czech Republic was like going back in time. The only positive thing that communism did for the city of Prague was to preserve and protect this medieval city from modern development. Well that’s what it was like when I visited several times in the late 1990’s. However, it might be different now as cultures and countries do modernise with the changing times.
I feel I was so fortunate to see this city before McDonalds or billboards arrived. Here’s what I wrote in my diary about my first visit to the centre of town on 13 July 1994:
“As you walk around the cobblestone streets looking at the buildings closely, it is truly a beautiful city. I like it because it is so old and rich in history but doesn’t have the craziness of other European cities like Rome and Paris. Old Town Square is beautiful. There is the Town Hall with the astronomical clock. Many gothic churches appear from everywhere. The highlight was Prague Castle and St Vitus Cathedral, dating back from 10th century. You have the best panoramic views of Prague from here. With the sun behind you in the afternoon, all the gold on the buildings light up and the whole city sparkles.”
Even walking across the historic Charles Bridge, I could really imagine myself living in a different time.
TG Tip: it is well worth doing a day or overnight trip to the quaint Karlovy Vary (Charles Baths). It is a beautiful village centred around a natural spring spa and the streets lined with colourful buildings.
Cities colour your travels in many ways…
Mmm, it seems I started my thoughts with colourful experiences but what about colourful buildings. This leads me on to looking at the question of how cities colour your travels in a different way. What have been the most ‘colourful’ cities I’ve seen. I mean literally colourful – the city presented an array of colours in front of my eyes.
Colourful district of La Boca
The La Boca district in Buenos Aires (Argentina) was settled by the Italians and is well known as the home of the famous Boca Juniors football club (well known if you’re a soccer/futbol fan).
Walk to the end of Valle Iberlucea and you arrive at el Caminito, a pedestrian walkway that is literally the most colourful part of the district. Most of the buildings and homes are painted in an array of bright colours. Some houses have colourful dummies hanging outside the windows and balconies, which is weird but fun to see.
This area has a lot of character and not just in colour. It has cute outdoor cafes, artists displaying their works, heaps of souvenir shops and their version of street busking – tango dancers showing off their elegant skills.
Autumn colours in Quebec City
Visiting Quebec City in Canada during the autumn/fall (October) was a spectacular surprise. I come from a country where we have mainly eucalyptus trees – meaning they are green all year round. So to see the trees in Quebec City and beyond display shades of yellow, orange, red, burgundy and green was so beautiful to the eyes. I couldn’t stop taking photos of trees for 2 weeks!
TG Tip: if you are in Quebec City during October, make a 3.5hour bus trip to Tadoussac, famous for their whale watching tours on the Saint Laurent River. I highly recommend to do this bus ride during the day, to not miss out on spectacular photo opportunities – seeing the surrounding hills in its full beauty and spectrum of the autumn/fall colours. More Canada travel tips
How have cities coloured your travels?
I have enjoyed every city I’ve been too, each displaying its own uniqueness. This article is just a small sample. Otherwise, I could end up writing a book!
Your turn - which cities have coloured your travels?