Finding Nemo

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Best Cities in the World (part II)

BA soccer craziness

So I got some feedback that I need to finish my best cities in the world post...

Here is the original post from 2006 with my rankings:
Best Cities

Using the same ranking methodology I am adding Buenos Aires and Brazil to the list

1) Postcardiness
2) Things you can do
3) People
4) Nightlife
5) Food and Drink
6) Expensiveness
7) Weather
8) Beaches
9) Mountains
10) Easy to get around

Criteria        1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 10 TOT
LONDON          5  5  3  5  3  1  3  0  0  6  31
PARIS           8  7  4  5  7  1  4  0  2  6  44
PRAGUE          9  5  7  5  4  8  5  0  3  5  51
BARCELONA       5  7  9  8  8  6  8 10  2  7  70
SYDNEY         10  9  8  8  4  6  8  7  2  7  70
CAPETOWN       10 10  5  5  6  7  5  5  4  8  65
BUENOS AIRES    7  7 10 10 10  6  5  3  5  8  71
RIO DE JANEIRO 10 10  7  7  7  6  7  6  3  3  66
NEW YORK        8  7  3  8  9  2  3  3  3  9  55
LOS ANGELES     4  9  5  9  9  3 10  9  8  1  67
SAN FRANCISCO   9  9  5  8  8  3  4  5  7  6  64
CHICAGO         7  5  4  7  6  6  3  5  2  6  51
SEATTLE         8  7  7  6  7  6  2  4  9  4  60
MIAMI           x  x  x  x  x  x  x  x  x  x   ?
NEW ORLEANS     4  6  6  6  8  7  4  0  0  5  46
LOS VEGAS       8 10  7 10  6  1  7  6  2  7  64
BA steak and wine
BA nightlife
Buenos Aires is my new favorite city in the world!  Edging out Barcelona and Sydney by a hair...
Here is the thing about BA... the people are awesome.  The city has a really unique mix of European style architecture and sensibility mixed with Latin flavor.  Its one of a kind.  The history of course is that Buenos Aires used to be one of the greatest cities in the world especially before the Great Depression.  The colonial influence is everywhere and evokes a sense of faded grandeur and nostalgia.  The people certainly have a lot of pride in the history of their city.  Modern history is not as friendly... when Peron was elected after WWII and moved the country to the left, the economy started to collapse.  Then a series of corrupt and repressive leaders followed, culminating in total finanacial collapse in 2001.  When I visited in 2006 the place was still incredibly cheap, and probably was one of the reasons I loved it.  These days their economy is recovering again and prices have too unfortunately.
The sense of fashion in the streets is sweet, all the young people have dyed hair, designer jeans, girls wear knee high boots and miniskirts.  The main walk street, Florida, is overflowing with cheap clothes outlets, all small-time individual designers.  The nightlife is CRAZY, clubs go every night all night until the sun comes up, its similar to Barcelona in that sense, there are lots of trendy wine bars, and most importantly there are incredible and cheap steak houses all over the city.  There is nothing like the all-natural grass-fed beef from the Argentinian pampa paired with a nice Malbec from Mendoza, all for less than $20.  Mix in a colorful and crazy soccer scene, Tango shows, great public transit, and you have the best city in the world.
The only knocks really are two big ones for me.... the lack of a nice warm clean sandy beach for surfing and kiteboarding, and the fact that snowboarding in the Andes is an airplane ride away.  Not have having easy access to my favorite things to do is a bit of a roadblock.  I think, in fact, that these two things are pretty big reasons I'm not sure I could ever live there.... but ... I am tempted anyway.
Beautiful Rio!
Rio, rio, rio.  What to say.  Visually, it lives up to the hype. The postcard city can't be contained in a single photograph, the steep hills rising up from the long golden sand beaches flanked by skycrapers makes for lots of ooo'ing and aah'ing when you ride up the gondola or visit the big Jesus statue.  The party is legendary and the "don't care" attitude of the people on and off the beach makes for a very fun and relaxed atmposphere.  Yet, I can't say I loved it.  I think its the fact that there are so many poor desperate people in the favelas, and it leads to a feeling that the city isn't safe, especially at night.  The beaches are only beautiful on the surface, before you notice the streams of run-off that smell like sewage.   And the beaches are almost too big in a sense, especially Copacabana.  It leads to a feeling of being lost of a mega-beach... whereas my favorite beaches in the world are cozy and you get to know the people after a week.  At the copa, you will never get to know the constant flow of people at the mega-beach.  Ipanema was nicer, its a smaller beach, more upscale, and better in every sense.  But it too felt a little big, a little touristy, and unfortunately a little expensive.  And the one soccer game I went to was at the Maracana, the mega-soccer stadium that holds an unbelievable 200,000 people.  It was perhaps 1/4 full and felt a little empty.  All in all, Rio is a place that I feel would be amazing if I had someone to lead me through it, but as a solo traveler, I felt it was a little tough to get to know.  Those knocks aside, Rio is Rio.  The partying is crazy, the beaches are pretty, the surf is big, the food is outstanding, and the people are very fun.

Stay tuned for my update in 2012 when I get back from the rest of the world.....!!!!

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