Love at First Sight: 10 Places That Had Me at 'Hello'

by Tausha Cowan in

Every once in awhile, I go to a place that has me like:

Perhaps not as dramatic as Adele, but not too far off. Sometimes I know exactly why I love the place so much and so quickly, and sometimes it's due to a certain something I can't quite immediately identify. Either way, these places had me at "hello" and all elicited the same response from me: YES. Just...YES.

I should clarify that not all of my current favorite places had me at "hello" and not all the places that had me at "hello" are necessarily better than my other favorites, but I am drawn to all of the below places for one reason or another. With these destinations, it was love at first sight: 

South Africa
Yes, I loved all of South Africa immediately, and no I haven't seen the entire country. But I did see parts of it, and from Johannesburg to the Klaserie Game Reserve to Blyde River Canyon to Cape Town to Stellenbosch and the Cape Peninsula, South Africa sucked me in and has yet to spit me out. I cannot wait to return and explore more of this compelling, imperfect and beautiful country.


Hong Kong
I've written before about how Hong Kong had me at "hello." Between the energy that rivals my beloved New York, the amazing and unique shopping, the tasty food and the variety of other amazing things to do, it's a place I know I could move to tomorrow and be just fine. Actually, I would be more than fine, I would love it. Hong Kong is just that kind of place.


Port Antonio, Jamaica
My first memory of Port Antonio was years ago for my cousin's wedding, and at the time, I remember immediately loving how non-touristy it was. I like going to Ocho Rios, Montego Bay and Negril, but Port Antonio still has so much of that lush, natural beauty that showcases just how truly stunning Jamaica can be on its own.


Polignano a Mare, Italy
After attending a friend's wedding this past summer (one of my favorite travel moments!), several friends and I spent a day exploring Puglia, the stunning and underrated region in southern Italy that makes up the heel of Italy's geographical boot. Polignano a Mare is clearly the place for vacationing Italians, and with good reason. It has insanely gorgeous coastlines, cute restaurants and a lovely, relaxing atmosphere. 


Lisbon, Portugal
Oh, Lisbon. I'm so happy to be able to visit this amazing city twice in one year because once is most definitely not enough. With beautifully tiled buildings, flavorful and inexpensive food and the calming water nearby, Lisbon is a place that should be at the top of everyone's list of places to go but isn't. Yet. I took too long to get to Lisbon, but never again will I sleep on Portugal. 


Milan, Italy
While everyone is clamoring to visit Rome, Venice and Florence, I am all about Milan. No, it's not the greatest for tourists but there's something very livable about the city that appealed to me as soon as I arrived. It's cosmopolitan, beautiful, artsy, chic and just a great place to explore. There are a few to-do items for tourists but it's the non-touristy parts that drew me in the most.


Montreal, Canada
Both Montreal and Quebec City offer a bit of Europe in North America, but what I love about Montreal in particular is that it also blends seemingly seamlessly with its North American roots. When you hang out in Downtown Montreal, you feel like you're in a completely different place than when you're in Old Montreal, and they're only a few minutes' drive from each other. Throw in the many amazing festivals over the summer, and you're hooked.


Lake Como, Italy
An hour outside of Milan is a place so truly stunning it almost hurts your eyes to look at it when you're there. Though I love the Amalfi Coast and other coastal parts of Italy, the rising mountains and quaint villages that surround Lake Como combined with the glossy glamour of the location itself (hey, George and Amal!) make this place stand out from the rest.


Edinburgh, Scotland
Like Lisbon, it took me forever to get to Edinburgh, and I don't have a good reason as to why this is the case. All I know is that I arrived in Edinburgh on an absurdly beautiful day and spotted the Edinburgh Castle jutting out into the middle of the city, and that was it. I loved the place. Not to mention it had many of my favorite London chain stores and immediately made me feel both nostalgic for the familiar and excited for the new things I discovered along the way. 


New York City
Okay, so this one may be a cop out because I don't actually remember my reaction the first time I visited New York. But, I figure it must have made a big impression on me because I ultimately decided to move here to attend college and have lived here for more than a decade. Over the years, this city has had many had-me-at-hello moments, and though I can't guarantee I'll live here forever, this city will always have me at "hello" or rather "hello again" in some shape or form. 


Thanks to these 10 amazing places for having me at "hello" and making me feel like Adele, if only for a little awhile.

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