Deepti Singh Gupta may be a botanist by education and a teacher by trade, but she’s a traveler “in spirit and soul.” Though she hails from the suburbs of Delhi, Deepti seeks out the capital city’s throbbing heart every chance she gets to explore its ever-changing landscapes. Here are a few of Deepti’s favorite things about the place she calls home.
Though born in Budapest, András Barta has called Geneva home since he was just a baby. This Jack-of-all-trades couch-surfing enthusiast–who has worked as a bookseller, financial advisor, bartender, and flight attendant–is now helping to lead a small business while writing for Spotted by Locals in his spare time. “I discover Geneva a bit more every day,” he says, “and I love every minute of it!” Here are a few of András’s favorite things about the cultural capital of French-speaking Switzerland.
Québec City native Pamela MacNaughtan left her career behind to pursue her dream of long-term travel in 2010, and hasn’t looked back. This self-proclaimed “bacon addict” isn’t only led by her taste buds; she’s also attracted to the unusual and adventurous side of life on the road. She’s toured working brothels and road tripped from Prague to Turkmenistan, but Canada has her heart. Here are a few of Pamela’s favorite things about the place she calls home.
Travel journalist Paul Steyn hails from Jozi, or Johannesburg–South Africa’s largest city. After serving as a guide throughout Africa for some years, he went on to edit a prominent travel magazine in Africa. Right now he’s a freelance writer and photographer focused on covering eco-forward destinations around the world, contributing regularly to National Geographic’s News Watch blog and other publications. Here are a few of Paul’s favorite things about his hometown.
Nat Geo Student Expeditions leader Erika Skogg is a photographer, writer, and educator with a passion for travel. After braving the frozen tundra of Wisconsin in her youth, Erika made the move to sunny Bogotá, where she has been working as a media producer for Off Bound Adventures and writing for the local English newspaper for the past two years. Here are some of her favorite things about Colombia’s capital city.
Oliver Weiss is a born and bred Frankfurter. And though he’s a fervent traveler, he’s always happy to return to his home base–which he describes as a village with a “touch of city.” In fact, Oliver has so much love for his hometown that he’s willing to share his insider intel with the world for Spotted by Locals. Here are some of Oliver’s favorite things about this German gem.
Nat Geo Young Explorer Emily Ainsworth was born and raised in Oxford, England. After studying at her hometown’s prestigious university, she joined the circus in Mexico, performing nightly as a solo dancer in the ring while producing an award-winning documentary about life backstage. Ainsworth’s work illuminates the lives of people on the fringes around the world–from Mongolian nomads to London royalty. Here are a few of her favorite things about her beloved City of Dreaming Spires.
Emma Fried-Cassorla can probably get away with saying she’s from the City of Brotherly Love after spending most of her life there. In addition to working a day job in communications at the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation, this hometown enthusiast shares her insider intel on Philly Love Notes. Here are a few of Emma’s favorite things about the city she calls home.
When Sharada Annamaraju moved to Hyderabad as a teenager, it wasn’t exactly love at first sight. But time and distance can change a person. Eight years (and one language learned) later, she decided to give the capital of Andhra Pradesh in southern India another chance. This time, sparks flew, and she isn’t leaving anytime soon. Here are a few of Sharada’s favorite things about the place she calls home.
Stephanie Hsu, who hails from New Jersey, relocated to Taipei on a “winter-break whim” and has never looked back. She now spends her days studying business at National Taiwan University and blogging about the place she calls home on her website, The Thousandth Girl. Here are a few of Stephanie’s favorite things about the city The Wall Street Journal’s China bureau described as “Asia’s answer to Portland, Oregon.”
Marina Popjakova might not be a native of Bratislava, but she certainly feels like one after having lived there for so long. She thinks Slovakia’s capital deserves more attention than it gets–and shares her enthusiasm for her adopted city with the world as a volunteer for Spotted by Locals. Here are some of Marina’s favorite things about the “Beauty on the Danube.”
Jill Schneider’s career as a photojournalist takes her all around the world, but her hometown of San Francisco always calls her back. A high school photography teacher and leader for National Geographic Student Expeditions, Jill is also a frequent Intelligent Travel contributor. Here are some of this California girl’s favorite things about her city by the bay.
Clive Cortis has spent the past 40 years in Malta and doesn’t “regret one single year.” He spends his days as a certified tour guide, showing off the things he loves about the island’s capital city of Valletta. From sandy beaches to exceptional nightlife, here are some of Clive’s favorite things about this Mediterranean city by the sea.
Originally from a small town in northwestern Ireland, Erna O’Connor first came to Dublin to attend Trinity College in the 1980s. Now a lecturer at the preeminent institution, she finds that Dublin’s friendly people, cultural vibrancy, and proximity to the mountains and the sea make it a great place to call home. Here are a few of Erna’s favorite things about Ireland’s capital city–just in time for St. Patrick’s Day.
When it came time to choose a college, Philadelphia native Jeremy Albelda traded in those northern winters for endless summer in Miami Beach. The city hooked him, hard, and he’s been a proud resident ever since. Though Jeremy’s gig as a travel blogger means he spends a lot of time abroad, the MIA always finds a way to reel him back. Here are some of his favorite things about the coastal gem he calls home.
New Orleans native Caroline Gerdes may have recently moved to Washington, D.C., but she loves her hometown. So much so that she recently spent a year–with the help of a National Geographic grant–of her life working on an oral history project about the Ninth Ward, where her father grew up, to document the community’s rich history and culture–especially the edible aspects. Here are some of Caroline’s favorite things about the city she’s proud to call home.
Munira Chendvankar has traveled across much of India, but maintains a “happy bias” toward her hometown. In keeping with the city’s status as the country’s entertainment capital (hello, Bollywood!), this self-proclaimed “film-ie” works as a senior producer for a television production house and says filling out our “I Heart” questionnaire reaffirmed her faith in–and love for–the city she calls home. Here are a few of Munira’s favorite things about Mumbai.
Russian national Elena Kozlova relocated to St. Petersburg in 2006 to pursue higher education, but her love for the city made her stick around after she claimed her degree. The Spotted By Locals blogger says living in Russia’s former imperial capital gives “the rare feeling of living in a museum under the open air surrounded by water,” and she likes it that way. Here are a few of Elena’s favorite things about the charming port city she calls home.
Dearbhaill Standún and her husband own and operate a restored 17th-century “hill village,” Cnoc Suain, just a short drive from Galway city on Ireland’s west coast. Though the Gaelic speaker and musician loves her rural retreat in the ruggedly beautiful Connemara district, she cherishes her time in this “friendly festival city by the Bay.” Here are a few of her favorite things to see and do in Cathair na Gaillimhe (that’s Irish Gaelic for Galway).
Native Chicagoan Beth Williams caught the travel bug after spending half a year in Japan during college. After graduation, she missed Asia so much she just had to go back. A gig teaching English brought her to Hong Kong, where she’s lived for the past two years. Armed with her camera and irrepressible wanderlust, Beth’s now on a mission to prove that you can work a 9-to-5 and still find time to travel. Here are some of her favorite things about the city she calls “a place unlike any other.”
Marti Buckley Kilpatrick, an American journalist and cook, has called San Sebastián home for the past three years. This food aficionado with a passion for Basque culinary culture–whether in pintxo form or at a five-hour lunch–points to an ancient local proverb that translates to “Wherever your thoughts go, your feet will follow” as her motto. Here are a few of Marti’s favorite things about this distinctive center of culture.
Iryna was “born and raised in beautiful Ukraine,” but is happy to call Calgary her “second home.” After traveling through Europe, she decided to make Western Canada her permanent residence and hasn’t ever looked back. Here are some of her favorite things about Alberta’s “Cowboy City.”
It’s a new year and, with it, new trips to plan. As you mull over which places you’d like to tick off your travel bucket list in 2014, consider these brief but compelling reasons why you should visit 20 of the world’s cities from the people who know and love them best.