5 Memorable Cities From Around the Globe: Life As A Permanent Tourist

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I’ve genuinely lost count of the number of times I have been berated by inquisitive minds about my favorite country out of ALL of the countries I have been blessed to visit. I find the notion of a favorite to be comical after traveling to more than 55 countries worldwide, each rich with its own culture, history, and adventurous memories. It remains nearly impossible for me to whittle down a favorite. 

But for the sake of adventure, especially for those solo female globetrotters out there, I concede to sharing five memorable cities from around the globe—in no particular order. Each has been wildly imprinted on my soul.

5 Memorable Cities From Around The Globe 

As I mentioned, this list is in no particular order. But one of the more memorable cities from around the globe that comes to mind first, is in Holland. 

No. 1: Amsterdam, The Netherlands

What’s made Amsterdam a memorable city in my travels is not the reason it’s memorable to most— it’s having friends there. Gallivanting around the globe using small group tours strategically has its perks. I met my Dutch buddies bonding over salt & vinegar chips on long bus rides in New Zealand and sharing bug spray in hostels while backpacking in the Philippines. 

A frequent visitor to the European continent, I visit each of them a time or two while bouncing from border to border. Seeing Amsterdam from a local perspective is a completely different experience than that of a tourist. I was, however, very much a tourist the first time I visited the historic town with lanky, leaning houses and a certain scent on the breeze wafting off of the canals fed by the river Amstel. 

In Amsterdam, debauchery and benevolence abound. One only needs to choose which of the two to indulge in. I choose benevolence (mostly) each visit and am contented learning more about the country’s history and culture vs. getting into trouble. With plenty of entertainment available, I do my best to balance seeing the obvious places with the not-so-obvious to befittingly grasp the glory of this seductive town.

Meredith smiling in one of the most memorable cities from around the globe

Your Favorite Bag Lady Recommends in Amsterdam

A few sites I highly recommend within the city limits are:

  • Van Gogh Museum —plan at least three hours to be enchanted by this museum and splurge for the audio tour. The multi-storied building is an architectural gem and there’s a park for a picnic lunch just outside. The museum is open daily and tickets must be purchased online. As always, arrive early to avoid the crowds and it’s worth mentioning that the building does not have a locker or luggage storage space—backpackers note.
  • Anne Frank House —most definitely overpriced and reservations for entry should be made two to four weeks (high season) in advance. But if you like history you cannot miss this experience. Portions of the house you’ve seen in movies—like those featuring starlet Shailene Woodley climbing the stairs in The Fault in Our Stars—are not always accessible to visitors. You’ll need an hour – give or take – for this museum. 

Fried food is seriously a cultural thing in The Netherlands. So too is the consumption of alarming amounts of mayonnaise, which I don’t ingest by choice. Fried foods, however, let’s just say I fail to gastronomically discriminate. That being said here are three memorable crispy, savory, fried goodies to entice your taste buds.

  • Kassouflee —breaded, deep-fried cheese
  • Bitterballen —meatball-sized croquet
  • Frikandel —a skinless sausage with fixings
  • Kroketten—a cylindrical croquet stuffed with meat, seafood, or vegetables

Canal tour companies in Amsterdam are a dime a dozen, but a canal tour is a must. A tour company I’ve personally used was referred to me and was a fan favorite among trip reviewers. Mainly because you could bring food, alcohol—and anything else you’d like—aboard for the nautical experience. 

Those Dam Boat Guys will give you a memorable time with plenty of laughs and fun facts about the city. A second option is the eco-tourism company Plastic Whale. Eco-friendly tourists can collect rubbish and waste in a vessel made of recycled and repurposed materials. Float along the often heavily polluted canal ways helping the planet and the municipality of Amsterdam keep its waterways that much cleaner.

The canals of Amsterdam are like home to me
The canals of the River Amstel

No. 2: Queenstown, South Island, New Zealand

Exploring the South Island of New Zealand, was a travel dream come true. I strategically visited the land of sheep and hobbits during the Summer months; I avoid cold temperatures as much as humanly possible. 

Starting in Auckland, a group of travelers and I journeyed through the North Island by bus in a zigzag before crossing over to the South Island via ferry into Nelson. I was awestruck by the power and velocity of the thundering waterfalls of Milford Sound, but it was the charming fjord-side paradise of Queenstown that stole my heart as one of the most memorable cities from around the globe.

Queenstown, hands down one of the more memorable cities from around the globe
A queen overlooking Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown

Fergburger aside, Queenstown is quaint with boutique hotels in the hillsides, trendy nightlife, and plenty of shopping and outdoor activities. Adventure seekers can hike, skydive, bungee jump, or picnic near Lake Wakatipu. 

Did you know that New Zealand was the birthplace of bungee? Knowing that fact, would you bungee jump while visiting the adventurous destination? I did!


Memorable moments from my travels: NZ I didn’t see New Zealand 🇳🇿 coming on my #solotraveling journey, which is to say I hadn’t “planned” on going. After bonding my way through weeks of train rides in India with Aussies🇦🇺 that INSISTED I come stay, I knew I needed to be strategic with my 1st visit to Oceania 🌏 This “continent” made up of island nations was on my travel bucket list since my adolescence when learning about the Maori culture & the Great Barrier Reef🪸 As a result, I made sure to include a solo jaunt to Fiji 🇫🇯 & the Land of Kiwis 🇳🇿 too!! 👉🏾Did I plan to bungy jump when there? NO! 👉🏾Did I know New Zealand was the birthplace of bungy? NO! 👉🏾Did I wear this smile on my descent? HELL TO THE NAW! I cried like a baby spider monkey falling too soon from the treetops as I plummeted 42 meters down a fjord I never even got to appreciate the beauty of because I was too worried about the ground rapidly approaching my person😅 The video content of this moment is HILARIOUS as is the commentary of those recording it witnessing this life moment📹 I’m grateful for this moment, though, because it frightened me to no end, which often reminds me I’m ALIVE & enriched my adventurous spirit beyond reproach 🙋🏾‍♀️ More than that… I DID that!🥹 I say that to say that often it’s the unplanned moments that have the biggest impact on our character/life✨For hidden in these moments is the truth of ourselves. What will I unwittingly discover next?😃 #waybackwednesday #newzealand #bungyjumping #yolo #adventuretravel 📷 @taupobungy | 2017 via @topdecktours

♬ original sound – Meredith

No. 3: Kratovo, North Macedonia

Most want to know what in the world I was doing in such a remote location in the first place. It’s a fair question, especially since this tiny town remains one of the most memorable cities from around the globe I’ve experienced. 

Kratovo, born from the ashes of a crater, is a small town nestled into a valley of the Osogovo Mountain range. 90 kilometers from the Macedonian capital, Skopje, about 40 kilometers west of the Bulgarian border and roughly 60 kilometers south of the Serbian border. 

Kratovo was once a mining town during the reign of the Ottoman Empire. Today it’s home to untouched nature, the crispest-tasting water, and a quaint way of living that for me is unmatched. My dark skin makes me an obvious out-of-towner when visiting, but the warm welcome I receive from those who know me well manifests the fondest memories and priceless moments of happiness.

Kratovo was my home away from home for two years and serves as a place of great familiarity. As a Peace Corps Volunteer stationed in the unique mountain town, my language and cultural training catalyzed my integration. Now fully integrated, I frequent the Balkan region to take in the breathtaking beauty of the topography, geek out on ancient history, and gorge on fresh produce, especially tomatoes. 

Kratovo is arguably one of the oldest towns in the entire Balkans and features seven bridges, six towers, five restaurants, four local beers on tap, three rivers, two ancient pine trees, and only one pub.

Sunbathing in natural pools in Kratovo: one of the most memorable cities from around the globe
Natural pools of Gorno Kratovo

Your Favorite Bag Lady Recommends in Kratovo

Though the town itself can be seen in a day— the towers, the bridges, the museum, an underground tunnel, and the old Turkish prison— stick around for a while. Accommodations can be made at the local hostel, Etno House Shancheva, or Hotel Kratis and check out these activities:

  • Hike into the Osogovo Mountains to Gorno (upper) Kratovo and swim in the natural ponds of freshwater.
  • Visit Kuklica, a small village just outside of Kratovo popular for a natural geothermic phenomenon, aka the Stone Dolls, backed by its own locals-only, fictional history.
  • Take the scenic route back to Skopje to witness charming villages such as Slegovo, Sveti Nikola, and Lozovo. Take a break from the drive in Veles where you can find shopping and plenty of cafes/restaurants for lunch.
  • Try rakija, the homemade whiskey of the region, uvijac, bacon-wrapped grilled chicken stuffed with cheese, and Ajvar, a spread made of eggplant and peppers, to cement the charm that is Macedonian food culture.
The Osogov Mountains in one of the most memorable cities from around the globe
The mountainous beauty that is Kratovo, Macedonia

Feeling hungry now? Sorry about that! Let’s leave Europe for a moment and head to the Americas.

No. 4: San Diego, California (USA)

It’s my (micro-influencer) namesake, but most importantly, it’s my hometown. Raised in the San Diego sunshine, a stone’s throw from the Mexican border and 20 minutes from the life-creating Pacific Ocean, I’m a San Diego girl through and through. 

The outdoors is a big part of Southern Cali culture as our weather is magnificent year round —with only the occasional tropical rainstorms. Because the city is massive it’s highly recommended to rent a car when visiting. There are plenty of high-priced activities such as the world-famous San Diego Zoo or Seaworld, but there are plenty of delightfully free activities too. 

Get out in the San Diego sunshine:

  • Hike Cowles Mountain or Torrey Pines Reserve for breathtaking views of the city.
  • Visit/picnic in Balboa Park. On certain days of the week, some of the museums in the park are free for residents or students with an I.D.
  • Be a beach bunny! Spend the day on the sand or in the sea and top it all off with a bonfire.
Where it all began: One  of those memorable cities from around the globe
Where it all began, San Diego California

Can’t miss them eats at local hotspots:

  • Bronx Pizza for an East Coast take on a West Coast favorite
  • Phil’s BBQ for finger-licking good beef or pork ribs.
  • Tacos El Gordo for authentic Tijuana-style street tacos.
  • In N Out Burger; it’s a classic —ask about the secret menu.

No. 5: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

The River of January is my gem on the Atlantic Sea and the final of this list of memorable cities from around the globe. I landed in Rio after a ten-day adventure tour from the south of the country (Iguazu Falls) to the beaches of Copacabana. 

Having only been one year since the unexpected and traumatic passing of my Mother, I was deep into my grief and more often than not held hostage by my cascading emotions. Still adjusting to life after tragedy, I struggled to balance everyday activities with profound feelings of displacement and sadness. 

Meredtih San Diego poised on the famous Selaron steps in Rio de Janeiro
A nighttime visit to the Selaron Steps in Rio de Janeiro

After so much time in Eastern Europe and having no anonymity because of the color of my skin there, Rio was an unexpected breath of fresh air. Dark skin and curves were everywhere, natural hairstyles were widespread and the natives welcomed me with open arms when I felt I didn’t quite belong anywhere. 

The beaches, history, and architecture coupled with this fact make Rio de Janeiro a memorable city in my travel dossier. Rio offers plenty of activities in and around the surrounding areas of the city, but here are a handful of Bag Lady recommendations and musts:

  • Take the cable car to Sugarloaf Mountain
  • Visit the botanical gardens
  • Beeline for the famous beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema
  • Travel south to the enchanting town of Paraty
  • Grab a ferry to Ilha Grande for unforgettable white sand beaches and delightfully saturated sunsets 

Does it sound like a dream? It was, but I lived every moment of it awake and present.

Which of These Memorable Cities from Around the Globe SPeak to Your Wanderlust?

Travel has served as the foundation for my child-like wonder. Exploring this planet has humbled me, taught me empathy, and tested my patience and my witts. It has also granted me a unique outlook on the behaviors of humankind while cementing my adoration for the power and beauty of raw nature. 

To date, my itch for travel remains immune to solvents and instead spreads deeper, taking root in the depths of my being. By sharing these five favorites I hope to inspire you to witness them with your own eyes and come away with unforgettable moments of your own.

Who’s Ready For Adventure?

If you find yourself deterred from going solo, remember that your favorite Bag Lady is always here to help. Book one of my Strategic Solo Traveling Consultations and spend some 1-on-1 time with me as we dissect your travel goals, prepare you with helpful knowledge, and put you in the mindset of adventure. What are you waiting for?

If not now, when…?

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Welcome to Bag Lady Meredith San Diego!

As a global citizen with more than 57 passport stamps, my adventure mandatory, serial-expat existence offers intuitive insight into globetrotting as a solo Black, female.

Whether it’s by plane, boat, moped, bus, or train, I LIVE for traveling.

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Bag Lady Meredith San Diego is always on the move! Completing her 57th country in 2022, where can you spot Meredith San Diego adventuring in 2023? Stay tuned to find out just where in the world is Meredith San Diego!