A Few of My Favorite Places Around the World

By on October 4, 2019
World

As someone who has lived on four continents and traveled to more than 60 countries, I’m often asked, “What’s your favorite place in the world?”  And I always smile because that’s an incredibly impossible question to answer given the tremendous differences and incredible similarities across the globe.  

The truth is, they are all my favorites but for different reasons.  Some I’ve loved because I felt comfortable there due to the sense of familiarity, common language, and the way things work – like London and Sydney and Toronto.  And some I’ve loved because they make me super uncomfortable because I don’t understand anything and my ability to function is challenged – like Cairo and Jakarta and Delhi.  

Some I’ve loved because of the beautiful weather – like the southern coast of Spain – and others where people live in extreme conditions – like Ushuaia. And some I’ve loved because of the mishmash of cultures and languages and sounds and smells – like Istanbul – while others have fascinated me by the similarities of the people living there who have maintained a way of life for centuries – like Ambato.

But from all of them, I’ve learned something.  Here are some highlights of what I’ve learned and some of my most memorable moments as I’ve embarked on a life of travel. World

  • Flying from New York to Bangkok and looking out the window over Mongolia thinking, “How did I get here?  I’m this small-town girl from small-town Florida and I’m looking down at Mongolia.”  
  • Uruguay is my favorite place on the planet and where I feel most at peace.  It’s a small country with kind people and farms on the beach and nature. I used to have a beach house there and it was my anchor for many years.  (But please don’t visit there and ruin it!)
  • The first time in China was mind-blowing.  I never understood scale and density until I went to Shanghai.  I also realized on that first trip that the center of the universe had shifted and the West has still not realized it. 
  • Kazakhstan was memorable. I was in Astana and they were in the middle of a building spree so the skyline looked like a mix between Las Vegas and the former Soviet Union given the architecture.  It was fascinating to see how global economic forces and geographic positioning between China and Russia were playing out on the streets.
  • Berlin is amazing and beautiful and has so much of what I’d consider traditional Europe but then there’s this mix of art and design and tech and entrepreneurship and countercultural elements that I just love.  Learning about the history and the role of artists in keeping Berlin alive while the wall was up – and seeing that still in play today – is fascinating.  Also looking at architecture between East and West Berlin as a living example of two cultures that bumped up next to each other.  That’s also what I like about Jerusalem and Istanbul —- that concept of cultures smushing next to each other and the interest that is created in the mix.  
  • Istanbul – East meets West – This is a fascinating city because of its history and culture and again – how very different ways of life bump up into each other – from traditional Muslim to secular Muslim with European identities and Asian connections.  It’s a beautiful city that challenged a lot of my stereotypes.
  • Tel Aviv and Jerusalem – I’m not religious, but spending a year on a project in Israel and flying to Turkey and Egypt and other parts of the region was really eye-opening.  In Jerusalem, you can wander the old city and bump up against different cultures and universes – food, music, languages, noises, smells, looks, clothing, commerce are all different in the different quarters.  It’s a microcosm, and by visiting there, I understood the complexities of the region in a more concrete way.
  • Delhi is incredible, with patterns of movement and life revealing themselves in what looks like chaos at first.  The contrasts can seem severe and the resilience and creativity are boundless.
  • Vietnam – The buzz and energy of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City are intoxicating and my admiration for the perseverance of the people there is immeasurable.  

Although I love nature, beaches, and getting away from cities, I find the most interesting experiences in cities because of that smushing of cultures that occurs and where we humans are figuring out our stuff in relation to other humans.  And no matter where I go, I am always observing and wondering about the behavior of the people in a place.

After all, we humans are incredibly fascinating creatures. 

About the Author:

Business Management bookRobin Moriarty, PhD, is a global business executive, speaker, author, adjunct professor, and thought leader for businesses and non-profit organizations. She has lived on four continents and traveled to 60+ countries.  Over the course of her career, Dr. Moriarty has focused on aligning businesses with opportunities to create a positive societal impact in North America, Latin America, Europe, and Asia-Pacific. As an adjunct professor at the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University, Dr. Moriarty taught cross-cultural leadership to future global leaders. She regularly shares her observations and advice on navigating complex work and life questions through speaking engagements for students and professionals and has recently published a book, “What Game Are You Playing?: A Framework for Redefining Success and Achieving What Matters Most”

 

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A Few of My Favorite Places Around the World