Paris. Up until the age of 21 (when I actually checked Paris off my travel list), this was my answer when anyone ever asked me where I would go right now, if I could. Being a hopeless romantic, a fan of Moulin Rouge and fine art, Paris constantly paraded around my mind with its sexy accent – Oui, oui. Come veezeet me, Hollie. I finally succumbed in December of 2012 and was not disappointed by this enchanting city, but I have since moved to desiring others. Copenhagen. Tokyo. Moscow. Typical hot spots in which foreigners crave a tourist shot leaning in front of the Alice In Wonderland statue, eating local ramen and doing a twirl in front of the onion domes of Saint Basil’s Cathedral.
When I was living in Italy, I had the opportunity to get to know and converse with multiple individuals that live in various European countries from Portugal to Finland. One topic of discussion that generally ran these talks was travel, where we’ve gone, what we’ve done and where we want to go. Mesmerized by my new friends’ luck in living in such a historical and diverse continent, I’d ask wide-eyed and on the edge of my seat, what their favorite country to visit has been. Well, I haven’t actually seen much outside of my home country, but I do love America… I’ve seen more of Asia than of Europe. I’d lean back in my seat, half disappointed, half curious, attempting to look the latter. I just didn’t understand. They lived within a two-hour flight of La Tomatina festival in Spain, the palace of Versailles, the Black Forest of Germany, and they’d never been? Blasphemy! I smiled and nodded as their excuses began… we just live so close, we can go any time. It’s just not as alluring as the streets of Bangkok. Thailand does seem pretty cool – I reasoned with myself, and with the next round of drinks, a new topic arose, and I didn’t think about it again. Until recently.
What a hypocrite, I had been! America may not be as ancient and rife with history of Neanderthals and Religious conquerings as other countries, but these lands have come a long way since 1492 in becoming a breathtakingly magnificent place. The famous metropolitan destinations like New York City and Los Angeles are thriving at all hours; if you want Chinese food at 3 AM or to see trendy and unorthodox fashion, these cities will give you that opportunity. Hike through the Appalachians or the Rockies or even up along the John Muir Trail for a picturesque workout. Drop in on Lollapalooza in Chicago or Austin City Limits to fall in love with a new band or individual music artist. The United States of America have just about anything you’d need to entertain yourself. It just took me longer to realize this than it should have.
My appreciation for what all America has to offer has grown. I’ve been to Boston where I watched the peaceful waters of the bay and ate delicious pastries from the famous Mike’s in Little Italy. First Friday in Phoenix stole my attention with the vivacious individuals and talented artists as I munched on a tasty, cheesy sandwich from Two Fat Guys Grilled Cheese food truck. Salt Lake City sucked me in with their ubiquitous bookstores and quaint shops, regardless that I was bombarded with snow as I explored each block! I fell in love with Jeff Bridges all over again as I saw him make his mark in Hollywood by the Chinese Theatre; afterwards, I traipsed with pizzazz down Sunset Boulevard to see all the stars’ stars.
Chicago kicked my ass with its awesome bars, fun venues and snowy weather, plus it’s always nice to have friends to visit (hopefully, I’ll see you in Denver, E!). The Alamo isn’t the only thing of beauty in San Antonio when you have a multitude of restaurants and foliage along the river walk, the artistically historical La Villita and Lulu’s gigantic cinnamon rolls. Even though, I am not a huge fan of malls, I have to give Minneapolis credit where credit is due in making the Mall of America more than just an experience of Victoria Secret and a food court. The refreshing feel of salt in the air as I walked Pacific Beach, grainy sand under my feet, made me already miss San Diego with its fresh seafood and sunny people (tanned and friendly).
Intrigued by the gum wall and baffled by the fish market of Seattle, my next return to this cloudy city will be imminent – not to mention Seattle Coffee Company beats Starbucks. Tulsa showed me there’s actually a fun, hipster side to it, and it’s not just somewhere Chandler Bing was stuck for a few episodes. It felt like summer when I traveled to Miami in February; a cool breeze hugged me as my eyes roamed over the palm trees and yachts, and the smell of Cuban cuisine drifted down the streets of South Beach – the happy hour was pretty killer, too (thanks for showing me around, S!). Finally, being in New York City these past few months has definitely been one hell of a ride…
Never have I experienced such a flourishing and intrinsically thrilling city as New York. One where you can visit Italy and China in the same night, where you can see the past before you on Ellis Island, where you can spend a full day getting lost in Central Park and enjoying every second of it. A place that can be as enthralling as it can be infuriating – the convenience of the public transportation matches its unreliability; for such a large and captivating city, there should be a job for someone to clean it up (trash is everywhere!); recycling goes out on Fridays, but where does it really go? It’s a fun city with a continuous list of shenanigans and adventures in which to partake, but it’s not somewhere I’d like to call home. Oh! This is the perfect time for that cliché saying: You can take the girl out of Texas, but you can’t take the Texas out of the girl. Beautiful.
There are still a myriad of cities in America into which I need to delve, and I can’t wait for them! Exploring all that my own country has to offer has been eye-opening. America is more than reality TV and bad politics. It’s a gorgeous land with kind people and great food, throughout. Basically, it is what you make of it… isn’t that another cliché? Life is what you make of it. So make it great. Make it fun. Make it happy!