A Year Summarized in Cities

This year is probably the most traveled one, if I could recount the numerous flights I took to and from Manila, as I searched far and wide for cities that would feel like home.

For me, travel used to be a foreign concept; I thought I was supposed to just stay in one place for the rest of my life. In the years that passed, I grown to love it as a way to discover not only myself, but the world around me—how things work, how systems are formed, how people thrive in different parts of the world.

Visiting Barcelona in the springtime was a visual feast. Gaudi’s masterpieces on every corner, Spanish fare spoiling us every single day, and the chance to experience a city’s vibrant atmosphere was unforgettable. Our flight to Cape Town took me by surprise—from the European architecture, to staying over at Babylonstoren in Franschhoek, you best believe it was life-changing. I never knew I could be in a place that felt so surreal and beautiful and majestic, all at one. Como tied in second, despite the long transit time that led us to this gem in Northern Italy. Milan reminded me of my first trip to Italy (which I barely remembered), but seeing it with fresh eyes made me love Brera, a neighborhood brimming with beautiful buildings and flowers branching out on every balcony. Berlin in the summer was the best: long hours of daylight, major realizations about art and life, meeting like-minded people, and falling in love with a city that was never on my go-to list. There was never a “why am I here” moment, but there was always a “I can’t believe I’m here” that I’ve probably lost count of how many times I’ve said it, really. Munich was a dream—a little R&R that I needed before flying back home. Geneva was a nice surprise, after which I ended up going to Blausee during the fall. Singapore and Malaysia were always the usuals, and there’s nothing like feeling comfort in places you feel like you’ve known forever. The fall trip to Berlin was short but sweet, but needless to say, it was the clarity I needed to be able to sit still and type this right now in Japan. I’ve been in Tokyo since last week, and next week I leave for Osaka for my last trip of the year.

But is it just me, or I don’t know. The more I travel, the more the foreign becomes familiar. I no longer look for the tourist spots, the places people line up for to eat. I settle for the ordinary, the mundane, the cheap thrills in the convenience store. I no longer spend a full day out and about, and it’s in the little things that make me appreciate cities more than the big things. Maybe I’ve learned to look at it in a different way—and, well, I guess different is good.

All my travels are filed under #ABCEnRoute on Instagram.

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