What makes a city a city?

Emily leaning on Finike City Sign

We’ve seen a city or two

Matt and I have been to many cities in quite a few different countries. We started our journey along the Atlantic coast of France in the city of La Rochelle. We left LR for the south of England and up the very impressive Hamble River to Swanick. Leaving England, we have touched many cities along the Atlantic coast of Spain, Gibraltar, the Southern coast of Spain, and the Balearic Islands.

Sailing eastward, we hit along the southern tip of Sardinia, the northern coast of Sicily, and the southern coast of Italy. Leaving Italy, we sailed across to Montenegro and the southern portion of Croatia where we got proximity struck with lightning. We bailed out of there to Greece, using the southern route around the Peloponnese and hopping across two greek islands, Milos and Santorini. We landed in Fethiye, Turkey, and now in Finike.

Can you imagine all the cities we have seen?

A good bit

and over many cultures.

We have seen major cosmopolitan cities and metropolitan cities, historical towns, farming towns, tourist destinations, villages comprised of as few as a couple of houses, and deserted towns. They each seem so different, not only in appearance but also in what they offer.

Pano of four corners in Palermo, Sicily

A city is just a city

So what makes a city a city? The shops, the people? It is its history? Religion or government? The number of people? Is it a look? Food or the arts? Is it luxury or the simpler life? Is it rooted in its hardships or triumphs?

Anyone can see it is all these things and more. Should we just forget this conversation then? Is a city just a city?

No, and I’m going to tell you why.

A city just ain’t a city without all the beautiful people inside.

Your favorite

Maybe you are the person who says, I like the small towns best, where the ‘real’ people live. Or maybe it’s the opposite. Maybe you like to visit the ‘cute’ towns best, the ones where all the shops are. Maybe you are looking for a party atmosphere, pools, or beaches.

If you are the person that might say any of those things, then this article is directed more for you.

You’ve been down that road before, Neo. Let’s shake things up!

My favorite

We get asked all the time what was our favorite destination. We always struggle because there will never be just one. There is no favorite and there will never be a favorite. They are all a favorite.

Doing this video, we got to explore the idea of cities and what we like in a city. The problem was, despite major differences, we felt the same love for each. They all were so dynamically different but we felt the same. Not only could we not pick a favorite city but also couldn’t define what we love about a city. We began to realize they have all enriched our lives so much that we have nothing but love now. Nothing else matters because it all matters.

Let go

We came into each city not knowing anything or anyone (literally, not just a figure of speech) and left each city with new friends and new experiences. Since we had no idea what to expect, we were able to experience things as they come. No expectations… that is the key to success.

If you just stay in a ‘favorite’ mind frame, you are likely going to miss what traveling is really all about. Let go of what you have programmed yourself to do. Stop stopping yourself from the unexpected. This way you will discover the true beauty of each city.

Keep the big door open

The best way to travel is with an open heart. This is obviously my opinion but I don’t know anyone who would refute this.

Traveling is an exploration of yourself as much as it is of other cultures. It is a time for growth. A time to see and feel the world. A world ‘different’ from your own. So why not explore this world entirely? Why else are you there?

City of Laconia in the mountains

Because people manage their daily affairs differently, your first response might be of separateness. You might feel you are too different and start to make judgments because that is not how you would do things. Relax that is normal, but continue. Don’t run away if an opportunity arises. Nothing different can happen unless you allow things to happen. Say yes!

Once you are able to recognize yourself and your good values in others, you will begin to feel more comfortable. You will begin to feel closer. You will let go and just let things be as they are. You will be free. Free to allow yourself to experience new experiences… without expectations.

In the end, you will find we are all the same. The same fears and struggles, the same joy and love. It is only in expression that we differ. So let go and enjoy everything and everyone, you are safe amongst friends.

*caveat ~ unless you meet an ax murderer, but how often does that really happen.

For example

A father and son come by the boat on a kayak. He asks if his son could come aboard to check out the boat because he never sees catamarans here where they live. We said yes. This led to a nice evening out at a local restaurant, a boat party, and a rooftop party complete with fireworks.

Group pic of friends in Solverado

Had we decided not to take a chance because that is how we would normally do things, we wouldn’t have had such an awesome experience.

There are so many instances of such great connections if you allow yourself the opportunity.

Another example

We hitchhiked. First time for both of us. It was in Formentera, Balearic Islands, Spain. After misjudging our walk to the post office, we realized there was just no way, so we put our thumbs out. You may think that is nothing, but it is something for two people who haven’t done that before because of, well, ax murderers.

This person rearranged their whole packed car to fit us in. It was like she was moving or something with how packed her car was. All the way to the roof. Anyway, she felt she could oblige us, pulled over, and proceeded to move everything to fit us in. So sweet. You ask yourself, why would she even offer with such a packed car. Doesn’t matter, that is you thinking, not her.

Matt and I in the bus
We took the bus home

We hitched even further with two young guys, who live in San Francisco. We were like, San Francisco?!?!?! They were like, yeah. We were like, Wow! So are we!! After a bit more charades, they meant San Francisco, Formentera!! It took a bit but we got there. So funny!!

We have so, so many examples of just going with it and enjoying the process, and we are so much happier for it.

Give this a try

The next vacation you are on, branch out even though it may not be your ‘favorite’. Reach out of your comfort zone. Enjoy the other sides of the culture. Go to a place with live music, not just a nightclub, and have a chat. Pullover and hit that quirky roadside cafe with all those colorful trinkets on the lawn even if it is just to have a beer and some chips, talk to the bartender.

Friends at ruins in Turkey

Enjoy the art, go to an art museum or some historical sites but take the bus. Ask a local for the best, idk, soup, something random. You’ll suddenly be on an off-the-beaten path experience. Don’t ask for the best lunch joint… ask for the best butcher and do a BBQ on the beach or at a park or a picnic.

Tip ~ Lost in translation. Be careful asking for the best place to eat. Instead, ask their favorite place to eat. If there are two people, ask them both their favorite. We’ve noticed when we ask for the best place, best literally means best, $$$, not most deliciously local.


Don’t be afraid to ask a question or just say hi. If you smile and ask a question to some locals, even in broken whatever language, they are likely to talk to you in whatever broken language, and you’ll have your very own foreign game of charades experience underway. They are sooo awkward but sooo fun. Everyone laughs. See where it leads to. Sometimes you’ve just met a friend.

It’s that simple. The most memorable experiences are led by the locals.

Let go of what you think a vacation should be and actually take a vacation, a vacation from the expected.

Legend in Milos with Emily

So what makes a city a city?


but it only means something to you

if you experience ‘everything’ for yourself.

**extra credit

After you’ve completed the assignment above, take it to the next level. If you see a foreign visitor in your hometown, try to engage them. See if you can point them in the direction of their own unique, wonderful experience to remember for a lifetime. You just might meet a friend.

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  1. Connie says:

    Hi guys. I love you two and miss you so much.

    1. Emily says:

      Thanks for leaving a comment, Connie. We think of you so often and always sending our love your way. Miss your laugh!!! <3 <3 <3

  2. Skydivintruckerjim says:

    Hey you two 🙂
    I just love the way you write and express your thoughts.
    Awesome post!
    Your friend Jim

    1. Emily says:

      Dear our friend Jim, your comments always make us feel so good. Stay cool man! Much love from us!!

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