By Chef Dad
At the halfway point of our trip, we decided to compile rankings of our favorite cities, NCAA-style*. We’ve been to 26 different cities, big and small, since we left home in early January and different places have made different marks on each of us. We also included Paris and Barcelona, the cities we saw on our last visit, just because. These rankings are subjective, with the criterion for inclusion based purely on the whims of the voters. We fully expect we’ll change the ordering when we do this again in a few months, even for cities we haven’t returned to. (Full disclosure—we lost the piece of paper we wrote the first set of rankings down on and I know for the second iteration, Miss A changed hers—a lot!)
On to the rankings:
*Unfamiliar with power rankings? Each person ranks their top 10 faves. The 1st place cities then receive 10 points, 2nd place 9 points, on down to the 10th place votes which receive 1 point. The points for each city are added together to formulate the collective power ranking, so depending on where a city fell on someone’s list can help or hurt. For example, Strasbourg wasn’t in Kristy’s top 10, but it made the list; and Warsaw was in the top 10 for both Mr. N and I, but as you see, it didn’t make final the cut.
Budapest claims the top spot in our inaugural rankings and emerges as the early favorite to capture the title of top sabbatical city at the end of the trip. The combination of views, walks, neighborhoods and nightlife will prove tough to beat. Hungary also turns out some pretty dang good wine, which helps with the grown-up vote, although the food may be the Achilles heel for Budapest in the end. Mr. N and I made Budapest our top choice.
Kristy, on the other hand, couldn’t decide between the Hungarian capital and Madrid, so she took the easy way out and chose both.
Eger was the top small city on the list and third overall. While the wine caves of the Szepasszonyvolgi might seem to appeal more perhaps to Kristy and me, it was Miss A who gave this cute little town the top spot in her rankings.
Coming in at fourth was Krakow, which joined Eger and Budapest as a city that got a top-10 vote from each of us. Krakow is our favorite Polish city so far, with two really great areas, Old Town and Kazimierz.
We also decided to include the cities from our last visit to Europe in the rankings, just to see where they ranked. I don’t think Miss A thought anything could have topped Barcelona, but she gave the nod to Eger. Still, we love Gaudi and Barcelona checks in at number five.
Sixth was our two-week home in Andalucia, Arcos de la Frontera. We loved the views, the neighborhoods, the people and the white buildings. And by the end of our stay, we loved walking up our hill.
Next came Paris, which we saw on our last trip through Europe but not on this one. We opted to spend our time in wine country this time around, and despite the fact that Saint-Emilion and Beaune didn’t crack the top 10, I still think we made the right choice. We’ll always have Paris.
Sevilla checks in at number eight. It was really hard to decide from among Sevilla, Cordoba and Granada, three cities with spectacular tourist sights in the Alcazar, the Mezquita and the Alhambra respectively. We made great memories in all three, but only had Flamenco lessons in Sevilla!
Perhaps the biggest surprise on this list is Marbella/Nerja. Spain’s Costa del Sol is beautiful, and the drive in through the mountains and the mansions made a big impression on Mr. N, who ranked it third. But Miss A slept through the drive in, and we didn’t spend much time there, so it was a surprise to see it sneak into the rankings.
The nice thing about ties for the last spot is that we get to include an extra city, and so it is with San Sebastian/Getaria and Strasbourg. I didn’t vote for San Sebastian/Getaria, because we barely left the apartment and chose instead to just admire the view all day. But oh, the view!
Strasbourg, on the other hand, we saw lots of on our short visit. And I got Kristy a rose from a street florist on a drizzly evening stroll through this beautiful French city. This one, I did vote for.
These rankings are sure to change in the next go-round, though. We’ve got Berlin, Prague and Vienna coming up soon, with more to follow. Plus we’re kinda moody fickle sometimes, so maybe next time, Cordoba will get some of the votes it rightfully deserves.