This year, Met Radio is taking part in the time-honoured tradition of the year-end top ten list. Throughout the month of December, Met Radio staff and volunteers will be sharing their personal pop culture favourites from the year gone by. Visit the website every Monday, Wednesday and Friday to check out our best of 2023!
In 2023, I had the incredible opportunity to do an exchange semester in Stuttgart, Germany. Europe being such a small continent, I was even luckier to be able to travel around a bit. So, as part of Met Radio’s top 10 tradition, here are my top 10 favourite cities I’ve been to this year.
1. Prague, Czech Republic
Starting off strong, as one would expect for the top 1 on a top 10 list, is Prague, in the Czech Republic. I went to Prague in early June this year with a couple of girl friends, and it was an amazing trip. Of course, travelling with the girlies is already an exciting journey, but the city really captured me. Prague is gorgeous. We took a walking tour of the city and the guy, a funny British man, told us some history about the city. Prague looks really different from other cities I went to in Europe, it looks like it has so much history and so much life. That is because, according to our British guide, its buildings have many different architectural styles. Prague fell quickly to the Nazi army during the Second World War and wasn’t heavily bombed during the 1940s or when the Soviet Union took over the city by the end of the war. So, unlike other cities, a lot of incredibly old buildings remain existent, with new additions every era. When you’re walking around Prague, you’re looking at history.
2. Edinburgh, Scotland
Edinburgh was the final stop in my Eurotrip this year, so I can say it was incredibly relieving to go to a place that spoke English. Edinburgh is, once again, beautiful, and I got to experience a few days of sun, something rare for the city. I stayed at a friend’s house near The Meadows, and walking through that park during the day was one of the best parts of the trip. However, the most exciting part was for sure the Fringe Festival, which was taking place exactly the week I was there. I got to watch three incredible shows with my friend, including a hilarious witch-inspired performance by Tim Murray, and a magical lecture on gender identity and sexuality with a drag queen from Germany, called Nancy: On Drag.
3. Salzburg, Austria
Salzburg was also magical. The most special thing of all these trips, and what made each one of these cities so remarkable were the people I travelled with. For this one, I went with a German friend, which came in handy when talking to people in the city. I wasn’t expecting so many fun things to do in Salzburg, but there were actually a lot of activities available, including two gorgeous old castles, many old paintings to look at, a beautiful boat ride and the houses where Mozart was born, and grew up in.
4. Paris, France
Paris is, well, Paris. A lot of my family is currently living in Europe, so when it was time to decide our plan for my brother’s and I’s birthday celebration, we landed in Paris. I was mostly just excited to hang out with my cousins, my dad and step-mom, and my brother, who I hadn’t seen in over a year. And yes, the company was great, but the city was even better. Every little corner you look at is so French and so pretty. Paris was really enjoyable and it certainly made it for a quite memorable birthday.
5. Lisbon, Portugal
Talking about family living in Europe, my dad and stepmom are currently living in Porto, Portugal. Since I was already in Europe, I visited them for a week, and that’s when we decided to take a family trip to Lisbon. My brother was also there, so just like in our childhood, the four of us hopped in a car and travelled together. It was a delightful trip. Lisbon has many beautiful sights, and the weather was great when we were there. I swear the blue sky is more vibrant in Europe.
6. Stuttgart, Germany
The city I lived in for five months this year could not not be on this list. Stuttgart is one of the biggest cities in Germany, which, to someone who grew up in the metropolis of São Paulo, is a bit funny. The city isn’t that big, but it’s great. There is a long pedestrian-only street surrounded by cute shops and parks. The city’s public transportation also works flawlessly, and it definitely got me used to a way of living that is not achievable here in Toronto. Fun fact about Germany, there are no ticket gates on public transportation, and not really a place to tap your ticket, so you just buy your ticket and go in. Stuttgart was lovely, and I really enjoyed my stay there, plus the German people I met, in contrast to many stereotypes, were amazing.
7. Madrid, Spain
I had been to Madrid before, to stay with yet another friend, and this was my second time in the city. I will admit that I love Madrid. I love how much you can do there, I love that I can practice my Spanish, I love the people, and I love how much it reminds me of São Paulo. I once again went in the summer, which is a bit tough, since temperatures get pretty high in Spain, but luckily my friend had a fridge that made ice on its own, so we never ran out of ice-cold water.
8. Budapest, Hungary
Budapest is a really fun city. It’s all the rage now with young adults because it has a great nightlife and everything is very reasonably priced. We were there for four days, and I walked so much each day. It’s a gorgeous city that offers so much. Two of my favourite places in Budapest were the thermal bath house we went to, called Lukács, and a nightclub that had over four floors, each with a different sound, and it stayed open until the sun came out. Budapest also had great bars, and an incredible bar conglomerate called Ruin Bars. It’s a bunch of different bars all set inside these old ruins, really cool.
9. Brussels, Belgium
Belgium was another awesome place full of history and incredibly fun things to do. Again according to a walking tour guide, this time a Belgium guy, born and raised in the city, Brussels is a place for outcasts. Throughout history, lots of merchants would have to pass by Brussels, and slowly it became a place for exiles and expats, like Victor Hugo. Highlights of the city: the food, the chocolate, the beer and the peeing boy statue.
10. Turin, Italy
Last but not least is the city where my brother currently lives in, Turin. I stayed there right after spending our birthday in Paris for a few days, before I could start my exchange journey, and it was still winter. A fun winter adventure I had there was riding a single scooter with my boyfriend in the snow, at night. Scary, but fun! We also walked up a mountain and had a view of the entire city, including the gorgeous Mole Antonelliana. It’s a lovely Italian city and, as you’d have guessed, the food was marvellous.
Honorary mentions: and to wrap up this journey of my journeys this year, I wanted to quickly mention two of my all-time favourite cities that I had the amazing opportunity to be in this year: São Paulo and Florianópolis. I went home for the holidays last year and ended up staying in Brazil until mid-February, which made for a great “winter” to me (it was summer there). I grew up in Brazil, so these cities are full of family, memories and lovely people. They are definitely places I would recommend anyone to go to and cities I can’t wait to visit again, just like every other one on this list. What an amazing year.