dc9northwest
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Surprising Cities You've Visited

Sat Jul 28, 2012 4:26 pm

What cities that most others consider perhaps not worth visiting have you enjoyed visiting?

What "second-rate" destinations impressed you and why?

What impressed you about some cities, compared to their reputation?

What are some redeeming features you look for in ugly cities?

Feel free to discuss these questions or any other related topic that you wish!

I'll add some more of my thoughts later, but to start off:

1) New Yorkers are supposed to be rude and unhelpful, but I found enough people willing to help in a tough situation. So I can say that people in NY were "better than advertised".

2) Riga isn't considered a top destination (often, just a cheap one), but there was enough to do and it was very pleasant to just stroll around the town; very clean, and well organized.

Anyway, feel free to take it from here. I'm listening.
 
safetyDemo
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RE: Surprising Cities You've Visited

Sat Jul 28, 2012 4:46 pm

I have to be honest and say one of my favorite overnights when I worked at my first airline was Cedar Rapids, Iowa. It doesn't sound like a very interesting place. However, we used to get long layovers there and stayed at a nice hotel right downtown. The downtown was clean, full of friendly people, and a lot of great little shops and restaurants/cafes were near our hotel.

Unfortunately, I haven't been to CID since the flood - so I'm not sure how well it has recovered since then.

-safetyDemo
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Revelation
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RE: Surprising Cities You've Visited

Sat Jul 28, 2012 4:49 pm

I'd give a positive mention for Naples, FL. It's been a while, but the last time I was there, the part of town I stayed in was quite lovely and had a kind of European charm.
Inspiration, move me brightly!
 
aloges
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RE: Surprising Cities You've Visited

Sat Jul 28, 2012 5:29 pm

Tallinn was a very nice surprise a couple of years ago. I had gone to Helsinki for a couple of days and decided to spend one of them in Estonia - it wouldn't have hurt to do it the other way around. The centre had been lovingly restored, with great attention to the preservation of historic structures and buildings, and yet it was full of stores, restaurants etc. that make a place lively.
Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.
 
nicode
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RE: Surprising Cities You've Visited

Sat Jul 28, 2012 5:41 pm

The most surprising city for me is Lisbon.

This city is really under-estimated.
 
johns624
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RE: Surprising Cities You've Visited

Sat Jul 28, 2012 6:43 pm

I second Tallinn. My wife and I just got back from a Baltic cruise and our expectations were backwards. We expected to like Berlin, St Petersburg and Stockholm the best but instead enjoyed Copenhagen, Tallinn and Helsinki more. They were much better "walking" cities and that's something that we really enjoy.
 
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RE: Surprising Cities You've Visited

Sat Jul 28, 2012 6:46 pm

Montreal is quite a nice surprise. A good dose of European chic on the North American continent.
Inspiration, move me brightly!
 
Tupolev160
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RE: Surprising Cities You've Visited

Sat Jul 28, 2012 7:51 pm

- Posadas, Argentina,
- Asuncion in Paraguay,
- Cuzco in Peru,
- Copacabana in Bolivia
- Mysore in India.

True gems of cities all surrounded by stunning natural beauty.
I think it is in South America that most places amazed me in the most unexpected way.

In Europe (as i previously mentioned a few of those below) i would include:

- Kosice, Slovakia,
- Brest, Belarus,
- Lugano, Switzerland,
- Feodossiya in Ukraine
and
Warsaw in Poland.

Even though not a minor city it was far more green and pleasant than i would have ever expected it.
"In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act."
 
Ideekay
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RE: Surprising Cities You've Visited

Sat Jul 28, 2012 7:56 pm

Definitely Stockholm.

We had spend a day there and it was very nice!
 
Tupolev160
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RE: Surprising Cities You've Visited

Sat Jul 28, 2012 8:03 pm

"What are some redeeming features you look for in ugly cities?"

What makes the essence of a city are the people. On second place i would put the natural surrounding.
"In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act."
 
varigb707
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RE: Surprising Cities You've Visited

Sat Jul 28, 2012 9:50 pm

Fredericksburg, TX. 1 hour's drive west of Austin.
The only town in America, I have been to, where you can actually drink beer on the streets. And it's LEGAL!!!

Sausalito, CA. Right by the Golden Gate Bridge...

Roermond, Nederlands. Beautiful women and nicest people...

Toronto, ON. Cleanest streets in North America...

[Edited 2012-07-28 14:52:51]
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seb146
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RE: Surprising Cities You've Visited

Sat Jul 28, 2012 11:23 pm

Quoting varigb707 (Reply 10):
Toronto, ON. Cleanest streets in North America...

One of my favorite Canadian shows was "Corner Gas." The owner of the cafe grew up in Toronto. She was so mad at a pot hole in Dog River, she filled it in herself. One of the townsfolk got mad and said "Is this how you big city people to it?" She said "yeah, we just fill in pot holes whenever the mood strikes!"

My surprising towns are:

Rapid City, South Dakota
Cheyenne, Wyoming
Bozeman, Montana
Regina, Saskatchewan

I am glad to see all the positive comments on Tallinn. That city is on my "bucket list"!
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signol
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RE: Surprising Cities You've Visited

Sat Jul 28, 2012 11:59 pm

I would add Santiago, Chile, to the list. I had a great time there in 2001 when I visited for a few days.

So in that end:

Quoting Tupolev160 (Reply 7):
I think it is in South America that most places amazed me in the most unexpected way.

Agreed  
Quoting Tupolev160 (Reply 7):
- Cuzco in Peru,
- Copacabana in Bolivia

Agreed again  
Quoting Tupolev160 (Reply 7):
- Asuncion in Paraguay,

Though I did find Asuncion a bit of a dump and left as soon as possible...

signol
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eurowings
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RE: Surprising Cities You've Visited

Sun Jul 29, 2012 12:10 am

In no particular order;

Bremen, Germany
Dresden, Germany
Ronda, Spain
Las Palmas, Spain
Vilnius, Lithuania
Helsinki, Finland
Maastricht, Netherlands
Ghent, Belgium
Bristol, UK
Newcastle, UK

None of them are huge on international tourism scene, but all of them impressed me in one way or another.
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TransIsland
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RE: Surprising Cities You've Visited

Sun Jul 29, 2012 12:36 am

Louisville, KY

I was afraid it'd be a repeat of Memphis, TN, but I was surprised by the alternative cultural scene, and the general openness of the place.
I'm an aviation expert. I have Sky Juice for breakfast.
 
PITingres
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RE: Surprising Cities You've Visited

Sun Jul 29, 2012 12:53 am

Ljubljana, Slovenia. I just felt comfortable there. (Bled was pretty nice too.)

Beijing. I don't like crowded cities much and expected to dislike Beijing, but it was just the opposite.

Amsterdam. Surprisingly congenial even to an older fart like myself.

Dublin. I have not the slightest bit of Irish in me and expected to be in eye-rolling mode most of the time, but I loved it.
Fly, you fools! Fly!
 
Ken777
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RE: Surprising Cities You've Visited

Sun Jul 29, 2012 1:12 am

Biggest surprise when I was younger was Hong Kong. Five days of R&R for the ship and I fell in love with the place.

That was '66, the same year when we went to Sydney and had the first stow-a-way in modern times.

Sydney at that time was also a pleasant surprise.

Ft. Collins CO was also a pleasant surprise - especially when my granddaughter was born there.

Across the Pond I fell in love with London, Barcelona, Dublin and Vienna.

My biggest surprise has been Bangkok. I've long had a pretty bad impression of the place, then I went through there on an overnight to London. While my overall impression was from the hotel, (the Sheraton) and shopping at Jim Thompson's, but I found the locals very gracious and my opinion of the place changed dramatically.

San Francisco (Palo Alto) rounds out my favorite surprises.
 
mainMAN
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RE: Surprising Cities You've Visited

Sun Jul 29, 2012 2:00 am

Brussels. Europe's capital has a reputation for being ugly and boring, but it's neither. It has some incredibly beautiful parts, but reminds me of most big UK cities in so far as in it's post-industrial, and has real elegance mixed with some pretty brutal 1960s planning mistakes. Brussels was a nice surprise because you get the impression it's full of euro technocrats and boring 'suits', but in reality it's a lively city with plenty going on, with the added advantage of being a little bit grungy, poor and seedy! I like it.

New York. I didn't know what to expect of New York. I thought it would be loud, brash, too frenetic and full of rude obnoxious people. Nothing of the sort! It's friendly, and relaxed.
 
flyingturtle
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RE: Surprising Cities You've Visited

Sun Jul 29, 2012 3:37 am

- London. A very diverse city, and every part of London is true to its own spirit. I'd call it the capital of the entire world, because of its history and the numerous ex-pats that live there.
- Berlin. Somehow like London, but it's more boasting (which I do not like).
- Naples. Despite being dirty and having quite a few homeless people, it is a city I already liked as a child. It's an adventure!  
- Freiburg in Breisgau, it has an old town that one simply cannot dislike.

All those have incited emotions in me.



David
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PITingres
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RE: Surprising Cities You've Visited

Sun Jul 29, 2012 4:39 am

I forgot to add Paris, which shoud have been on my list given the thread title of "surprising cities". I never thought I would have much use for the place; I suppose I imagined some sort of stuffy monument to French past-delusions-of-grandeur complete with residents who cordially despised tourists, particularly of my origin. The truth turned out to be entirely different, especially the tourist-hating bit. (It appears that if one makes a rudimentary effort to speak two or three basic French politenesses, one can get along quite well. Who knew!)

edited to add: and I even enjoyed Paris after I foolishly allowed my camera to be stolen on the Metro, our first day there. Sigh.

[Edited 2012-07-28 21:41:12]
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legacyins
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RE: Surprising Cities You've Visited

Sun Jul 29, 2012 4:41 am

Normandy. Besides the historical significance, it was quite peaceful and beautiful along the coast.
 
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RE: Surprising Cities You've Visited

Sun Jul 29, 2012 6:10 am

Quoting TransIsland (Reply 14):
Louisville, KY

I second Louisville, I found the city had a really nice atmosphere. Sad that it's a bit overshadowed by the sheer number of cities in the surrounding region.

I also second Cedar Rapids. I visited there a few years back and like safetyDemo said, it was just a fun place to be with great people.

Other places I was very pleasantly surprised by:
-Bellingham, WA
-Monterey, CA
-Barrow, AK
-Anchorage, AK
-Juneau, AK
-Prince Rupert, BC
-Norfolk, VA
 
bookishaviator
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RE: Surprising Cities You've Visited

Sun Jul 29, 2012 6:52 am

Quoting Airport (Reply 21):
Anchorage, AK

Oh goodness, really? What did I miss? Alaska as a whole is total awesomeness, but Anchorage seemed to me to be a grey and dull place littered with tacky bear-themed souvenir shops and run-down bars filled with clientele of questionable repute.
When I die, when I die, I'll rot. But when I live, when I live, I'll give it all I've got.
 
Airstud
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RE: Surprising Cities You've Visited

Sun Jul 29, 2012 7:42 am

I lived in San Francesspool for more than 16 years and utterly loathed, detested, despired, abhored, and hated the !%$#@ -ing place. And everyone raaaaves about it. "World's most beautiful city," they rhapsodize. IGNORAMI. I arrived there from Bostn, a liberal young dude, bred among the Volvo Democrats and the blamed Bay Area made an arch conservative out of me. Nice going.

On a less emotional note, I was surprised in my several visits to both Montréal and Québec City. I didn't really care for Montréal (I won't go into why; I saved my artillery for that other place    ), but I loved Québec City. I wasn't expecting not to like Québec City, what was surprising though was how easy I got along without speaking a word of French. The travel literature touts Montréal as a gloriously bilingual place, and also says you'll have trouble getting on in Q.C. if you only speak English. I've been to both cities several times now and I've always had the opposite experience: I encountered significant language barriers in Montréal. (In fact the Renaissance hotel over there still owes me my fried eggs   )
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LOWS
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RE: Surprising Cities You've Visited

Sun Jul 29, 2012 10:59 am

Denton, Texas (I like their used bookstore, Recycled Books, in an old opera house)

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Brussels (which has a reputation for being boring, I don't know why)

St. Louis, Missouri
 
Tupolev160
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RE: Surprising Cities You've Visited

Sun Jul 29, 2012 12:06 pm

Quoting PITingres (Reply 15):
Beijing. I don't like crowded cities much and expected to dislike Beijing, but it was just the opposite.

Had the same experience. After the hell of Guangzhou and Shenzhen, Beijing was a surprising delight.

Quoting signol (Reply 12):
Though I did find Asuncion a bit of a dump and left as soon as possible...

Well, there is no special architecture or anything, i've just found Paraguay in general to be interestingly different from the rest of Latin America, besides what they're the only that still speak mostly in their native tongue, not in Spanish.

Quoting PITingres (Reply 19):
I imagined some sort of stuffy monument to French past-delusions-of-grandeur

Haha, can't be more true!  I think it is one of greatest historical mistakes of the past century that Paris wasn't destroyed to the ground by the Germans cause it's appearance is totally misleading of what France is today.
"In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act."
 
aloges
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RE: Surprising Cities You've Visited

Sun Jul 29, 2012 9:44 pm

Here's one from Germany: Mannheim.

I didn't just visit it, I lived there for a couple of years and really adored it. A local musician wrote a song called "In Mannheim, You Cry Twice" - when you arrive and when you leave, which is very true. The place was very walkable and gave up little secrets every time I tried a new route - which more than made up for the industrial, rushed post-WW2 buildup appearance (which is the bit that makes you cry at first).
The locals were somewhat in-your-face, but that went for criticism as well as for praise. If you messed up, you'd know it right away, but you'd also be free to point out other people's mistakes and nobody would sulk.
And then there was the location - near Germany's most important wine-growing areas and connected to everything with a railway station this side of the Urals. Add two rivers with ample green banks, FRA and Heidelberg nearby and affordable rents and you're only starting to get the picture why I miss it a lot.

Quoting PITingres (Reply 19):
It appears that if one makes a rudimentary effort to speak two or three basic French politenesses, one can get along quite well. Who knew!

I must be blunt this once: it should be the first thing every traveller considers. If you're going to a place whose language you don't speak, prepare by learning three or four basic courteous phrases.
Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.
 
stlgph
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RE: Surprising Cities You've Visited

Sun Jul 29, 2012 10:23 pm

Lived in Des Moines, IA for a while. Took a job there and didn't know anything about it until I moved in - had an absolute blast.

Was absolutely surprised by Rapid City, SD.

Tremendously loved Duluth, MN.

Montreal blew me away the first time I visited - I still go there about every 3-4 months for a long weekend.
Also in Quebec - Quebec City - for four years, I've made annual treks there each year for the summer festival and then again for the winter carnaval. I just wish flying to both was a lot cheaper, I'd go more often.
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shamrock604
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RE: Surprising Cities You've Visited

Sun Jul 29, 2012 11:00 pm

Quoting PITingres (Reply 15):
Dublin. I have not the slightest bit of Irish in me and expected to be in eye-rolling mode most of the time, but I loved it.

May I ask why you expected to be in "eye rolling mode"?

Glad you enjoyed it though!  
 
LOWS
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RE: Surprising Cities You've Visited

Mon Jul 30, 2012 5:17 am

Quoting aloges (Reply 26):
Here's one from Germany: Mannheim.

You need to come visit Hallein near Salzburg. I've lived here since February. It has a nasty reputation as a gritty industrial town chocked to the gills with Turkish immigrants. But the old city is nice, and people are much nicer to one another than in Salzburg. And the rent...I pay 300€ for 60m in a reasonably good building. It's far from perfect, but I could think of worse places.
 
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Braybuddy
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RE: Surprising Cities You've Visited

Mon Jul 30, 2012 6:45 am

Quoting flyingturtle (Reply 18):
- Naples. Despite being dirty and having quite a few homeless people, it is a city I already liked as a child. It's an adventure!

   A place I hadn't been to till last year, though it always intrigued me, and I absolutely loved it! There is some magnificent architecture underneath the dirt and weeds. It has a real edge to it and is unlike any other large European city: it's more a little bit of South America on the continent. It has a real soul and is one place I'm definitely returning to.

Quoting eurowings (Reply 13):
Bremen, Germany

   I knew nothing about, and wasn't expecting anything from, this northern German city, but we certainly got a lovely surprise.

Baku: Was expecting a dirty, ugly city. It's anything but, if you Ignore the ugly industrial outskirts. It has it's share of grotty side streets for sure, but these only add to its interest. The magnificently restored old town is an absolute gem, but it's a shame that it's stuffed with embassies which have sucked the life out it.

Bordeaux: was expecting a stuffy, boring city, but it's beautiful and lively.

Marseilles: nothing as bad as it's made out to be. Has a nice vibe.

Bologna: gorgeous Italian city with a real heart, and remarkably free of tourists as far as Italian cities go.

Mexico City: Was expecting a polluted dump, but it's got some magnificent European-style boulevards and is nothing if not lively.

Tehran: Not an attractive city, but architecture isn't everything, and the thread is about cities that surprised you. We were expecting somewhere dour and oppressive, but were bowled over by the friendliness and hospitality of the people. They certainly weren't afraid to stop us in the street, ask us where were were from (we felt like celebreties), and bitch about the regime. Full of surprises.
 
Superfly
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RE: Surprising Cities You've Visited

Mon Jul 30, 2012 10:22 am

Duluth, Minnesota
Garberville, California
Hilo, Hawaii
Havana, Cuba


Duluth, Minnesota;
Very friendly town on the bay with a lot of character and history. Close to some breathtaking scenery, has 4 seasons and very affordable place not ran over by tourist.



Garberville, California
Unique artsy town with great selection of micobrews hidden hundreds of miles north of SFO, hidden in a forest of giant redwood trees. Friendly people who were the true hippies of the 1960s, not the faux hippies of today that you see in the big cities.



Hilo, Hawaii
Charming native Hawaiian town trapped in time. It's like stepping back in to 1972.
Most travel sites rave about the hotels in Kona which is on the opposite side of the Big Island and very dry & barren. Hilo is a seaside town with lush rain-forest, not over ran with tourist (anymore) and all the resorts there are over 35 years old.
It's not expensive either and the locals are very friendly. It's also very quiet.



Havana, Cuba;
A city that we've been told all sorts of bad things about is actually a very fun place. It's a vibrant city of over 3 million people with lots of music, art and plenty of parties going on all day & night. Cute girls, nice beaches, great music and not that expensive.

Quoting Airstud (Reply 23):
I lived in San Francesspool for more than 16 years and utterly loathed, detested, despired, abhored, and hated the !%$#@ -ing place. And everyone raaaaves about it. "World's most beautiful city," they rhapsodize. IGNORAMI. I arrived there from Bostn, a liberal young dude, bred among the Volvo Democrats and the blamed Bay Area made an arch conservative out of me. Nice going.

  
I agree!
Although I'm not an arch conservative, my 15 years of living there opened my eyes to a lot of flaws of far left thinking. That combined with the current arrogant person in the White House has led me to jump ship.
When people say all of those wonderful things about San Francisco, they're only talking about the far, northeast corner of the city. The rest of town where most people live is very difficult to get around on the MUNI lines that some people like to rave about.
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YVRLTN
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RE: Surprising Cities You've Visited

Tue Jul 31, 2012 2:11 am

Quoting aloges (Reply 3):
Tallinn was a very nice surprise a couple of years ago

Another vote for Tallinn, beautiful city and some great places to eat. We also did a tour out into the countryside as far as the former Soviet naval base at Paldiski and it was fascinating. I have to say I was a little disappointed as I wanted to go to see old Lada's and Gaz trucks etc etc but outside of museams, I saw about 5 of all, and only one on the road. The mix of old and new however adds to the fascination fo the place.

Quoting varigb707 (Reply 10):
Toronto, ON. Cleanest streets in North America...

You clearly havent been to the left coast  
Quoting Airport (Reply 21):
-Bellingham, WA

   May I ask why (other than the gas being 25% cheaper than 10 miles up the road)?

Quoting Airport (Reply 21):
-Prince Rupert, BC

   Interested in his one too, though all of BC is beautiful, even the hick towns.

Three for me

Venice - was expecting a real tacky tourist trap kinda place, and it was round the square, but had a great meal by the Rialto bridge, enjoyed the little side alleys and spent most of the day wondering around the canals i nthe residential part of the city where you got a feel for the local life.

Tokyo - was expecting a frantic nightmare, I guess local contacts helped but really enjoyed the place, seemed like stepping 2-3 years into the future too.

Stone Town Zanzibar - not like any other African city I visited, I had pretty low expectations by this point - "Freddie's Bar" (the house where Freddie Mercury was born and now a shrine to him) was fabulous. Along with the views & beach & people.
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blink182
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RE: Surprising Cities You've Visited

Tue Jul 31, 2012 1:21 pm

Brussels, Belgium. Reasons described in previous posts on this thread, but I would happily return.

Amsterdam, Netherlands. I'm most struck by how liveable the city feels; incredibly balanced between festive nightlife and relaxing community. Would love the opportunity to live there.

Portland, Maine. Great food, drink, art, and outdoor scenes, a balanced population density, and amazing views from the coast. If you go to Maine's coast for holiday, spend a day or night in Portland.

Washington DC. Sure, the National Mall, embassies, US gov't buildings, museums impress. The summer weather is atrocious, but there a lot of historic neighborhoods with accompanying bars, cafes, restaurants, and parks that don't attract busloads of tourists. All of those government workers and lobbyists have to live somewhere.
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Coal
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RE: Surprising Cities You've Visited

Tue Jul 31, 2012 2:07 pm

- Tallinn, Estonia: Although I wouldn't have gone if I hadn't been told it was nice! It was only a day, but it was a nice little detour from my Scandinavia trip.

- Jilin, China: This is the provincial capital of Jilin province in northeastern China. Surprisingly green, despite having a fair amount of heavy industry. Some of the best Chinese alcohol (baijiu) can be had here (Gaoliang).

- Chiang Mai, Thailand: So different from Bangkok. So charming. And the weather is fantastic.

- Melbourne, Australia: I used to go to Melbourne a lot for work, but on weekends I would always go to Sydney and I never explored the city. Then my fiancee moved there, so I spent a considerable time in the city while I commuted from Shanghai. It's small, but has amazing restaurants, bars, cafes and fresh food which can be bought at the South Melbourne Market. Beats Sydney hands down.

- Guangzhou, China: Parts of the city really remind me of driving into San Francisco from SFO. Weird, I know. Surprisingly clean since most of the heavy industry is gone.

- Shenzhen, China: Same as above. Very green city, which is a bit of a rarity in China, especially for such a large city.

- Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam: The first time I went there, I didn't think much of it. Just another bustling large Asian metropolis. But since that time I have returned to HCMC about 6 times, mostly for charity, and have discovered that the city has an amazing restaurant scene. Many fantastic Vietnamese and French restaurants can be found here, and they are usually dirt cheap. There are also a lot of very good bars and lounges, and the buzz of the city is fantastic.

Cheers
Coal
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RE: Surprising Cities You've Visited

Tue Jul 31, 2012 4:39 pm

Quoting nicode (Reply 4):
The most surprising city for me is Lisbon.

This city is really under-estimated.

Great call...very under-appreciated...so much amazing history there and it gets overlooked often as a destination.

Quoting Airstud (Reply 23):
I lived in San Francesspool for more than 16 years and utterly loathed, detested, despired, abhored, and hated the !%$#@ -ing place. And everyone raaaaves about it. "World's most beautiful city," they rhapsodize. IGNORAMI. I arrived there from Bostn, a liberal young dude, bred among the Volvo Democrats and the blamed Bay Area made an arch conservative out of me. Nice going.

SFO is completely overrated and I share your sentiments. As Mark Twain quipped that he'd never had as cold a winter as SFO in the summer, it's true. And it's a cesspool of uber-leftists run amok.

Quoting stlgph (Reply 27):
Montreal blew me away the first time I visited - I still go there about every 3-4 months for a long weekend.

Love YUL. It's the most European of any North American city and such a great place to visit. BOS also has a European feel to the layout at least, but not the vestigial culture as YUL would have and certainly not the French influence.
 
RobertNL070
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RE: Surprising Cities You've Visited

Tue Jul 31, 2012 6:33 pm

In no particular order:

Bath, UK
Fès, Morocco
Oaxaca, Mexico
Yogyakarta, Indonesia
Kandy, Sri Lanka
Youth is a gift of nature. Age is a work of art.
 
Superfly
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RE: Surprising Cities You've Visited

Tue Jul 31, 2012 6:51 pm

Quoting RobertNL070 (Reply 36):
Bath, UK
Oaxaca, Mexico

Two places that rank high on the places I want to visit. I've heard many good things about Bath. It's also the home town of Tears For Fears.
Oaxaca, Mexico sounds like it would be a wonderful culture experience far removed from all the trouble we hear about Mexico.

Quoting RobertNL070 (Reply 36):
Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Was Yogy the Bear there?  
Quoting RobertNL070 (Reply 36):
Fès, Morocco
Kandy, Sri Lanka

I had a roommate that went to both places. He was a bigger fan of Fez.

Quoting slider (Reply 35):
SFO is completely overrated and I share your sentiments. As Mark Twain quipped that he'd never had as cold a winter as SFO in the summer, it's true. And it's a cesspool of uber-leftists run amok.

  
Forget Mark Twain, just ask me!
Mark Twain didn't have to deal with expensive parking meters, unreliable MUNI service, expensive limited BART service, homeless activist that attract more homeless, ridiculously high rent / mortgage, city sponsored protest and attention seeking politicians that only care about attracting more attention to themselves. The cool leftist (free-loving type hippies) have moved out to small towns up in Mendocino & Humboldt counties as well as Nevada City & Grass Valley up in the Sierra foothills. Mark Twain only complained about the weather in San Francisco which I actually like.

Quoting slider (Reply 35):
Love YUL.

  
I love Montreal and it's my favorite Canadian city. I wish we had stayed there when my father worked there when I was a little kid.
Bring back the Concorde
 
RobertNL070
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RE: Surprising Cities You've Visited

Tue Jul 31, 2012 8:16 pm

Quoting Superfly (Reply 37):
I had a roommate that went to both places. He was a bigger fan of Fez.

I wouldn't dare to presume to compare Fès, Morocco with Kandy, Sri Lanka. These cities worlds apart, in every sense.
Youth is a gift of nature. Age is a work of art.
 
AM744
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RE: Surprising Cities You've Visited

Tue Jul 31, 2012 8:36 pm

Quoting mainMAN (Reply 17):
Brussels.

Same here. Beautiful, beautiful city. Small but outstanding downtown and the Atomium was great.
 
dc9northwest
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RE: Surprising Cities You've Visited

Tue Jul 31, 2012 9:31 pm

Hi everyone, I see you've got most of mine covered.

Quoting aloges (Reply 3):

Tallinn was a very nice surprise a couple of years ago. I had gone to Helsinki for a couple of days and decided to spend one of them in Estonia - it wouldn't have hurt to do it the other way around. The centre had been lovingly restored, with great attention to the preservation of historic structures and buildings, and yet it was full of stores, restaurants etc. that make a place lively.

Wow, several people made mention of Tallinn--I agree, it's a downright beautiful place, well kept, full of nice little museums and restaurants/cafes, nothing at all like its reputation (albeit one not as bad as Riga or St. Petersburg next door).

Quoting nicode (Reply 4):

The most surprising city for me is Lisbon.

This city is really under-estimated.

It is--I must say the people do make the difference. The Portuguese are very lovely people, friendly like no other nation IMO.

Their football downright sucks, but it's ok, that's another story  
Quoting eurowings (Reply 13):
Vilnius, Lithuania

Yes, the most dangerous capital in EU, according to some survey I've read, but it really doesn't feel that way. I wouldn't rank it with Tallinn and Riga, but it's definitely an OK place to visit.

Quoting mainMAN (Reply 17):
Brussels. Europe's capital has a reputation for being ugly and boring, but it's neither. It has some incredibly beautiful parts, but reminds me of most big UK cities in so far as in it's post-industrial, and has real elegance mixed with some pretty brutal 1960s planning mistakes. Brussels was a nice surprise because you get the impression it's full of euro technocrats and boring 'suits', but in reality it's a lively city with plenty going on, with the added advantage of being a little bit grungy, poor and seedy! I like it.

Good to know I'm not the only one--yeah it's not the safest looking city I've been to (like Amsterdam in that regard), but aside from their horrible train stations I enjoyed pretty much everything in Brussels. It felt like a real city, "lived in", which is a positive IMO. Again, like Amsterdam (and Bucharest for that matter), I rank it as a "daytime city".

Quoting Braybuddy (Reply 30):
They certainly weren't afraid to stop us in the street, ask us where were were from (we felt like celebreties), and bitch about the regime. Full of surprises.

Most surprising comment for me. Not about the Persian hospitality, which is well known for those who read up on Iran, but about the regime-bitching. I didn't expect that from a country ran by such a repressive government.

Thanks, guys, lots of nice answers... As I've said, most of mine are covered. But I'm sure you guys have some more places that surprised you  

OK, one more: Bodo, in Norway. I went there mainly for the Aviation Museum, but I found a city that's exceedingly nice to stroll around. Nice little streets, lots of trees in bloom, with apleasant floral smell. Smells like the sea, but not like dead fish, as people claimed online. Nice little place!
 
PITingres
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RE: Surprising Cities You've Visited

Wed Aug 01, 2012 11:23 am

Quoting shamrock604 (Reply 28):
May I ask why you expected to be in "eye rolling mode"?

At least one of my early trips over, the plane was 90% full of American tourists, all wearing kelly-green trousers and all maudlin with joy over going back to the old homestead. (It was not St Patty's Day either.) I didn't really fit in and sort of expected the Dublin experience to be more of the same. I'm glad it wasn't.
Fly, you fools! Fly!
 
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AirPacific747
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RE: Surprising Cities You've Visited

Wed Aug 01, 2012 12:04 pm

I agree with Bath, UK

And also Cambridge, UK was very pleasant. I was there just as many students had passed their exams and were partying  
 
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OA260
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RE: Surprising Cities You've Visited

Wed Aug 01, 2012 1:23 pm

Quoting Braybuddy (Reply 30):
Tehran: Not an attractive city, but architecture isn't everything, and the thread is about cities that surprised you. We were expecting somewhere dour and oppressive, but were bowled over by the friendliness and hospitality of the people. They certainly weren't afraid to stop us in the street, ask us where were were from (we felt like celebreties),

Yes I loved Tehran and was surprised how nice a city it was . Lovely people and food.

Austin TX , Love that city too . Didnt think I would like it so much but I love it . Probably my favourite of all cities in the US . Just loved every minute there. Want to go back sometime. Went a few times but not for a few years now so maybe next year.

Warsaw. Really like that city. My Polish neighbour thinks Im crazy as she hates it but I really like it .
 
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Braybuddy
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RE: Surprising Cities You've Visited

Wed Aug 01, 2012 4:57 pm

Quoting dc9northwest (Reply 40):
Most surprising comment for me. Not about the Persian hospitality, which is well known for those who read up on Iran, but about the regime-bitching. I didn't expect that from a country ran by such a repressive government

In two weeks in the country, only ONE person we spoke to supported Ahmadinejad. It was extraordinary. Naturally we were cautious about criticising the regime -- and certainly not the Ayatollahs -- but we didn't have to bother: the Iranians did all that for us, and in no uncertain terms too.

Quoting PITingres (Reply 41):
At least one of my early trips over, the plane was 90% full of American tourists, all wearing kelly-green trousers and all maudlin with joy over going back to the old homestead. (It was not St Patty's Day either.) I didn't really fit in and sort of expected the Dublin experience to be more of the same. I'm glad it wasn't.

Nice to know, but I'm curious where Americans get the term "St Patty's day" from. I wonder is it from mis-hearing natives talking about "Paddy's Day", which everybody calls it. NOBODY calls it St Patty's Day here.
 
Confuscius
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RE: Surprising Cities You've Visited

Wed Aug 01, 2012 7:24 pm

Singapore, a fine city. It's clean, safe and the food is great. I was there last year and will be back again next month.

Ain't I a stinker?
 
pesit4a
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RE: Surprising Cities You've Visited

Wed Aug 01, 2012 7:45 pm

Quoting PITingres (Reply 41):
At least one of my early trips over, the plane was 90% full of American tourists, all wearing kelly-green trousers and all maudlin with joy over going back to the old homestead. (It was not St Patty's Day either.) I didn't really fit in and sort of expected the Dublin experience to be more of the same. I'm glad it wasn't.

LOL! Dont worry, I think most of us Irish would also be in definite "eye rolling mode" if we saw that! While it's flattering to see people go so misty eyed when returning to Ireland, it is also a source of amusement to us!

I guess I should also make my own contribution to this thread:

Bremen, Germany. Totally agree with the contributor above. Really beautiful city.
Warsaw, Poland. Really was not expecting the stunning old town.
Los Angeles, US. Expected it to be my idea of living hell. It was at first, but it grew on me!

[Edited 2012-08-01 12:49:58]
You just can't keep a good man down!
 
PITingres
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RE: Surprising Cities You've Visited

Wed Aug 01, 2012 7:49 pm

Quoting Braybuddy (Reply 44):
I'm curious where Americans get the term "St Patty's day" from. I wonder is it from mis-hearing natives talking about "Paddy's Day", which everybody calls it. NOBODY calls it St Patty's Day here.

You are probably right, since the american pronunciations of the two will be very nearly indistinguishable. I see it written both St Patty and St Paddy over here, and it may also depend on the level of Irish heritage in the area.
Fly, you fools! Fly!
 
mandala499
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RE: Surprising Cities You've Visited

Wed Aug 01, 2012 8:30 pm

Quoting dc9northwest (Thread starter):
What cities that most others consider perhaps not worth visiting have you enjoyed visiting?

Tarragona, Spain... Nice little historic town... not too many tourists... not many look at it because it's too near Barcelona. Spent a nice week there.
Hamburg, Germany... twice already on business. I always enjoy the place. Nice and friendly, not too big, not too expensive. Now permanently on my annual biz trip list.
Cambridge, UK... well, everyone wants to go to Oxford, so this place is a little quieter...
Male, Maldives... most people go to the Maldives go straight to the resorts from the airport and never visit this little city on it's own little island. Friendly, and compact... but yeah, don't expect too much. Nice for transitting to/from resorts and airport.

Quoting RobertNL070 (Reply 36):
Yogyakarta, Indonesia

LOL! That's my favourite city to visit here!
When losing situational awareness, pray Cumulus Granitus isn't nearby !
 
hoons90
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RE: Surprising Cities You've Visited

Thu Aug 02, 2012 2:40 am

Liverpool, UK - Great museums, a must visit for any Beatles fan
Sacramento, CA - Incredibly friendly and personable people
Riverside/Iowa City, IA - Same as above, with the best sandwich and mashed potatoes I've ever had
Havana, Cuba - Great architecture, friendly people and gorgeous weather
Osaka, Japan - Often overshadowed by Tokyo, but has better food and feels more laid back
Busan, Korea - See above, plus a beautiful waterfront
The biggest mistake made by most human beings: Listening to only half, understanding just a quarter and telling double.

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