Have you ever needed to go back to visit a city?
(I’m not talking about having to return to eat more pasta in Italy or hanging ten on the crazy surf in Hawaii because you can’t get enough.)
During my travels there have been a few key cities around the world that I need to go back to in order to give them a second chance. Cities who fellow travelers rave about and for whatever reason i didn’t see it.
My List of Second Chance Cities:
This was our first stop in 2012. I think there is always a transition period when traveling, getting back into the swing of finding good street food, navigating unknown streets and international communication. We only spent 1 week in Hong Kong, during Chinese New Year when the city is already in a craze. We got out and saw a lot, but there wasn’t that immersion that we love. We walked around at a distance, enjoying what we saw, but still completely culture shocked for our first time in Asia.
Everything was harder than it needed to be. We struggled at which food stalls to sit down at, we questioned who to talk to and for most of the time our sleep schedule was completely off thanks to the time zone change. We’ll be back Hong Kong!
I went into our trip to Bali with a very Eat Pray Love expectation and quickly realized the island is to Australia what Cancun is to the U.S. Our first stop was the Kuta/Semniyak area and my peaceful Bali I longed for was no where to be found. Instead, we fought the traffic on our motorbike, drank with Australians and learned to avoid the hundreds of touts on the beaches. After a week, we left for Ubud, which had more of the same, but at least we could easily get outside the city on a motorbike and enjoy the beauty of the island. We talked to a lot of locals that insisted the northern coast was more serene and closer to what we were searching for. Unfortunately, 2 weeks in Bali had exhausted me and we jumped over to Gili Air for the remainder of our visa to sit on an island small enough to walk around in an hour.
We got lucky, our two guesthouses in Bali were more than we could have asked for. Teka-Teki House and Bali Moon Guesthouse were two stays that left a big imprint on our trip. Despite all of Bali’s craziness – we would go back solely to visit these! If anyone has been to Bali and loved it, I am interested in hearing where you suggest visiting and what you suggest doing!
You might have read my first post covering Vietnam. I loved Saigon, but the rest of the month was just meh. I sat on beautiful beaches and ate a lot of spring rolls, but I think my expectations were so high for Vietnam, that the entire country didn’t have a chance. I still can’t pinpoint exactly what it was that made our visit to Vietnam our least favorite place. Maybe we moved to quickly through the cities, maybe we didn’t meet the right people, and we definitely didn’t sit down at the right food stalls because nothing seemed to click. Looking back 9 months later, nothing bad happened or so negative to make me not want to return… but I maintain a neutral “meh” attitude towards my travels in the country.
Based on the reviews of many of my fellow travel writers, I want to give Vietnam another chance. It isn’t on the top of my list since I have a long list of other cities to visit…but one day I’ll return and hopefully gain a new perspective.
I never expected to be writing Buenos Aires down as a city that needs a second chance. We rented an apartment for a month and really focused on getting work done, improving the blog and building our side projects which we are now working to launch. We were in Spanish classes 20 hours a week and the rest of the days were spent mostly inside with our heads in our computers.
We visited BA during the winter months, it rained 90% of the time and was cold outside. We ate really good food, fell in love with Malbec and explored the many parks when the sun came out. It didn’t help that the only time our personal safety was threatened was right as we arrived in the city. I honestly look back at our month spent there and can say I liked BA a lot…but I didn’t love it. I want to love it.
There is so much to see and do in Buenos Aires, there is so much culture to love and I want to go back and experience it again…hopefully during the summer next time.
What is on your list of second chance cities and why?
Great idea – everyone has a list of second chance cities. Top of my list would be Madrid! Then Bangkok.
Caroline Eaton says
You must give Bangkok a second try 🙂 – as chaotic as it is.. I loved it!
Great idea for an article! A second chance city of mine was definitely Berlin. My boyfriend and I did stumble upon it again 2.5 years after our original visit and loved it. It’s not as beautiful as other European cities and that’s probably what we were originally hoping for. However, it is very fun and convenient city, full of young people.
My daughter and I traveled for 16 days around Italy and we loved every place we visited, every person we met, and every site we saw – except Naples. We went for one reason – to eat pizza, and it was the best pizza on the planet. Score! But we did not like the city. I want to go back and give it a second chance.
P.S. I love Bangkok!
Caroline Eaton says
We admit we went to Naples to eat pizza and moved on too!
I would definitely want to give it a second chance and spend some more time meeting the locals and wandering the streets.
Bangkok is a love or hate city and we also LoVE it!!!
In a couple of weeks time I will revisiting Vienna. Last time I visited I ended up with food poisoning. This time I will cook my own food so I can poison myself.
Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) says
I definitely think that any place you visit at the start of a big travel escape should always be up for a second chance as that kind of adjustment can really take time and not allow you to see a place at it’s best! Although we really liked Japan, I know Tony & I would have had a lot more fun there if we had hit it after traveling for a bit rather than right at the start. Like you, there was a lot of stress over where to eat and worrying about communication barriers… by the time we made it to Hong Kong (which we LOVED), all that stuff was behind us!
Caroline Eaton says
I love hearing good reviews on Hong Kong – I know we missed so much and definitely will make it back to explore more!
Jordan McDonald says
Skyler and I were just having a conversation similar to this. For us it’s San Francisco. We can’t quite pinpoint what it was about SF (perhaps the sky-high expectations), we enjoyed good weather and great food, but we were itching to get out of the city after 3 nights. We spent the rest of that trip in Sonoma, which we loved.
I do have to disagree slightly about Bali – I think it’s fair to say that Kuta is to Australia what Cancun is to the U.S., but not the whole island!
Caroline Eaton says
I agree with this – next time we go we will dedicate more of our time to Northern Bali! When we got outside of the crazy on our motorbike, we found truly beautiful areas of Bali that I do look forward to visiting again!