There are cities, and then there are cities. Cities I visit, cities I fall in love with and cities I long to belong in. I can classify them all by these tags; it makes it easier when dreaming of building a new life somewhere – a small organic farm in Nicaragua; a bustling townhouse in Nova Scotia. Monteverde, a city I had fallen hard for. Clouds, and mountains, a small-town charm and a boy. Leon, a city I had fallen in love with. Colonial architecture, amazing food, a beach and a boy. Cities that I can close my eyes and feel myself there. One; breezy and temperamental; the other; hot and crowded. Both make my pulse quicken in different ways.
But then there are different places, like Budapest. The hills on one side; the streets on the other. The food was exceptional; the language was magical; the nightlife; the markets; the history; the boy. Here was a city I could see myself living in. Halifax is another; a beautiful town located alongside the harbour; a friendly neighbourhood of shops; restaurants and hills. And I had finally found a third city in Canada where I could immediately picture myself building a life there.
Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories
When most people heard I was going to the great white north for my celebration trip, they were – well – thought I was crazy. Why would you go north? I heard that many times, especially when I told my fellow classmates. Having just completed my master’s degree, in conflict studies, I needed to recharge my batteries and what better way than to finally hit up one of the territories. It did not disappoint. In fact, it felt like I belonged, like this is where I needed to be. Picture what you think the north looks like. Probably barren; ice; snow; mountains; lack of any cultural or culinary experiences. Now, erase that from your minds.
Yellowknife is surrounded and formed around lakes. Beautiful lakes that were melting when I arrived; their water forming a protective shield around the city. Trails in the rocky hills connect every suburb with the center town. The Legislative Assembly took place in a beautiful building, built by zinc – material drenched in meaning for Yellowknife. Free tours are offered daily and since this was not tourist season, I got a private one. The visitors centre was warm and welcoming, handing out pins and itineraries. The free museum of natural history overlooked the stunning lake and the City Hall and the food. Oh my god. The food. For a vegetarian, I was surprised to find how perfect this city was for me.
And it was. The Old Town was centred around a giant rock in which the Pilot’s Monument was thrust high up into the sky. Houseboats dotted the bay. A café called the Dancing Moose overlooked the hangar of float planes and I spent a good number of hours reading, drinking coffee and listening to the French guys beside me. (THEY FIND ME EVERYWHERE!)
The days that weren’t spent exploring were spent reading on my friend’s balcony – in complete awe of that stunning blue sky that stretched as far as the eye can see. In a week, I managed to see everything I could possibly see in Yellowknife. I hiked and went mudding. I saw the musical Spamalot. I read four books that had nothing to do with citizenship and terrorism. I slept in. I finished watching season 3 of Brooklyn Nine-Nine. I hung out with my best friend.
Who wouldn’t love a city where that’s all you get to do?