The 14 most photogenic cities in the world

love taking pictures when I travel. Even before the days of Instagram, I would sometimes spend hours a day on a trip trying to find pretty landscapes, colorful street art, stunning architecture, and interesting people and try to turn them all into interesting photographs.

To help others with a similar passion, I’ve created this list of the 14 most photogenic cities in the world. This list is unranked, as they are all truly special in their own way and worth a visit with your camera.

Medellín, Colombia

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This stunning city is nestled in the northern end of the Andes, with spectacular views in every direction, and is one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

Dubrovnik, Croatia

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There’s a reason why both Star Wars and Game of Thrones have filmed in Dubrovnik – it’s out-of-this-world beautiful.

San Francisco, CA

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Visit San Francisco and you’ll leave with a ton of postcard worthy photos.

Hong Kong

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Mountains, some of the tallest skyscrapers in the world, and Victoria Harbour help make Hong Kong one of the most photogenic cities in the world.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

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The picture above is all the explanation I need for including Rio on this list.

Cape Town, South Africa

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Cape Town has a truly stunning landscape and access to some awesome wildlife experience.

Vancouver, Canada

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Squeezed between the coast and mountains, Vancouver is a travel photographers dream.

Paris, France

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Paris was made for pictures – okay, not really, but with how easy it is to get a beautiful shot here, it might as well have been.

Melbourne, Australia

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Melbourne boasts the tallest public vantage point in the southern hemisphere along with a harbor, a thriving street art scene, and neighborhoods with their own unique vibes.

Innsbruck, Austria

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The Alps serve as the perfect background in this Austrian city that once played host to the Winter Olympics.

Lisbon, Portgual

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Cobblestone streets, centuries-old architecture, a trolley system, hills, and a river running through it serve to make Lisbon one of the most photogenic cities on Earth.

Honolulu, Hawaii

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Honolulu is Hawaii’s largest city, located right on the coast with views galore.

Venice, Italy

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The water, the buildings, the history, and the gondolas make Venice a can’t-miss for any travel photographer.

Prague, Czechia

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Truly of the most stunning cities in the world, Prague’s beauty will leave you breathless.

Are there any cities that I’ve missed? Let me know in the comments!

NAACP issues travel advisory for American Airlines

Citing a “pattern of disturbing incidents,” the NAACP is warning African Americans not to fly on American Airlines.

“The NAACP for several months now has been monitoring a pattern of disturbing incidents reported by African-American passengers, specific to American Airlines,” the press release said. “Booking and boarding flights on American Airlines could subject them to disrespectful, discriminatory or unsafe conditions.”

The organization then gave an account of four incidents which “suggest[ ] racial bias,” according to NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson. An account of these incidents can be found here.

For a full write-up on this developing story, check out the NY Daily News.

Using music to travel

You can’t really travel by listening to music… can you?

The answer is not physically (at least, not until Elon Musk figures it out). But if you listen to music while you travel, a song can easily take you back to a destination and experience.

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Like many, I love music. In college, I was a radio disc jockey and I love DJ’ing trips when I travel with friends. When traveling alone, music serves as the perfect companion, helping to ease my anxiety, enhance my experience, and, at times, pump me up.

Here, I’ve compiled a list of destinations and the songs that take me back to them.

Place: Koh Phangan, Thailand
Song: Where is My Mind, Pixies

Favorite lyric
“Your head will collapse, if there’s nothing in it.”

Only a few years after getting my passport, I took one of the most epic trips of my life – partying at the Full Moon Party in Koh Phangan, Thailand.

Now, I can assure you that I am no longer cool enough to go to this party (and I probably wasn’t even then). But I was with an amazing group of friends and we’d listen to this song as we pre-gamed. Whenever this song comes on, I think of Koh Phangan — and then I think of Edward Norton.

Place: Caye Caulker, Belize
Song: Love Yourself, Justin Bieber

Favorite lyric
“You think you broke my heart
Oh girl, for goodness’ sake.”

Like most gay men, I have an unhealthy and complicated relationship with Justin Bieber. The truth is, I don’t like him very much; but I’ve never met him, so I feel bad saying it. Then, I feel worse about myself for having an opinion about him at all.

Say what you want about the Biebs, at least he created Love Yourself. Now, I know some of my readers may not like his music, but give this song a chance. I played it on repeat during my Belize trip earlier this year, and it provided the perfect backdrop to my very chill existence, which included waking up with the sun, biking to the beach, and working from my hammock.

Place: Lisbon, Portugal
Song: Budapest, George Ezra

Favorite lyric
“If you just say the words, I’ll up and run
Oh, to you; I’d leave it all.”

It’s weird that a song about Budapest would make me think of Lisbon, right? Right. But it does!

In April, I had a 3-city journey planned – London, Lisbon, and Budapest. To mentally prepare myself for Budapest, I listened to this catchy song on repeat, almost in preparation. Unfortunately, I had to cancel the Budapest portion of that trip, so now listening to it reminds me of walking the streets of Lisboa.

Place: Manila, The Philippines
Song: 24K Magic, Bruno Mars

Favorite lyric
“I’m a dangerous man with some money in my pocket.”

While waiting for my plane from Manila to Hong Kong to take off, I was on a Philippine Airlines flight, listening to Spotify, and reading the magazine on the plane. While listening to Bruno Mars’ 24K Magic, I discovered that Bruno is Filipino, which was a pretty cool coincidence. I listened to the song a few more times, and now whenever I hear it, I’m taken back to that tarmac in Manila.

Place: Hokkaido, Japan
Song: Doesn’t Remind Me, Audioslave

Favorite lyric
“I don’t want to learn what I need to forget.”

The song starts with Chris Cornell singing: “I walk the streets of Japan until I get lost, ’cause it doesn’t remind me of anything.” So, I did just that.

I listened to this song as I walked around Sapporo, with no map and no destination. I discovered shrines, sculptures, beautiful buildings, and got lost in the moment. To this day, it’s one of my favorite travel experiences.

Place: Turks & Caicos
Song: She Got Arrested, The Interrupters

Favorite lyric
“This time, it was his blood on her;
She wore it like a badge of honor”

I took this trip with my sister, and I am fairly confident she wanted to kill me given how many times I played this song. It’s catchy, punk-ish, and the lyrics are entertaining. Now, whenever I hear this song, I’m brought back to Grace Bay (so I make sure to still listen to this song a lot!).

Place: Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Songs (Tie): Daydreamin’, Lupe Fiasco (feat. Jill Scott)
Break Ya Neck, Busta Rhymes

Favorite lyric
“Now come on everybody, let’s make cocaine cool
We need a few more half-naked women up in the pool”

The first time I discovered Lupe Fiasco, I was sitting in a coffee shop in Amsterdam and all I wanted was to hear more. This was before Shazam, so I did what I could to have a chance of hearing the song again – I grabbed a napkin, found a pen, and wrote down as many lyrics as I could remember.

When I got back to my hotel, I Googled the song and added it to every playlist I had.

Favorite lyric
Hard to pick one with how fast he raps (give it a listen!)

When you’re in an Amsterdam coffee shop, it’s easy to be impressed. But I remember when I heard this song, my mind was blown. Busta’s lyrics are so quick that my mind had no chance of keeping up.

Like with Daydreamin’, I did my best to write down all the lyrics I could remember and hoped I could find the song when I got home. To this day, I can’t listen to the song without smiling, thinking of the first time I heard it.

Place: Singapore
Song: Crazy, Gnarls Barkley

Favorite lyric
“Even your emotions have an echo in so much space.”

I spent 5 hours walking around Singapore, my feet hurting from my dress shoes (I was there interviewing). I wanted to see everything, but I was tired, the sun was melting me, and I could barely move my legs.

“Crazy” helped give me the strength I needed to power through and always reminds of walking around one of my favorite cities in the world.

Place: Key Biscayne, Florida
Song: Bom Bidi Bom, Nick Jonas & Nicki Minaj

Favorite lyric
“I’m an addict, I’m your patient
Your lips are the medication.”

Sometimes, I’ll let my friends pick the music. In Key Biscayne, the friend I traveled with likes pop music more than I do, and introduced me to this song. After the first listen, I was hooked.

It became the anthem for the trip and now whenever I hear it, I’m brought back to that island breeze.

Place: Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
Song: Have You Ever Seen the Rain?, Creedence Clearwater Revival

Favorite lyric
“When it’s over, so they say, it will rain a sunny day.”

Hiking the Rockies can be challenging, but if you’re able to, it’s worth the effort. For my birthday 2 years back, I planned a trip to Colorado and an amazing birthday hike. It took over 3 hours to get to the top, and when we finally did there was lightening. After being told we needed to hurry down the mountain, we immediately reversed course.

The hike down wasn’t easy, and we tried to go as fast as possible to avoid the rain. While heading down the mountain, waiting for the rain, I played this song on repeat. Now, I can’t hear it without thinking of Rocky Mountain National Park.

Place: Brooklyn, New York
Song: Clear The Air, Off With Their Heads

Favorite lyric
“We’ve got to find a place to start, because we’re falling apart.”

I like to watch TV when I go to sleep, but I know some people can’t stand the noise. While staying with my friend in Brooklyn, I decided to turn off the TV and instead listen to music before bed with my iPhone and headphones.

While waiting for my Ambien to kick in, this song came on and it totally rocked my world. I must have listened to it 10 times that night alone, and now I can’t hear it without thinking of Brooklyn.

Place: Scottsdale, Arizona
Song: Savior, Rise Against

Favorite lyric
“As the telling signs of age rain down, a single tear is dropping
Through the valleys of an aging face that this world has forgotten.”

For better or worse, I associate the Phoenix metro area with emo music. I attended the University of Arizona for college, and my old roommate (and to this day, one of my best friends) loved emo music. In his car, we’d always listen to it and I began to love the genre.

On a trip to Scottsdale a few years back, while staying the Four Seasons at Troon North (so I literally had no reason to be upset about anything), I discovered this angsty song and felt like my world was rocked.

Place: Athens, Greece
Song: Galaxy 500, Lucky 7

Favorite lyric
“You take the fish, I’ll take the bowl.”

I discovered this song while in Athens and it became my gym workout anthem for the trip. It’s a silly song that makes me laugh, and it reminds me of Athens, which is never a bad thing.

Do you have songs that remind you of particular trips? Let me know in the comments!

Hotel Review: The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne, Miami

One of the best travel deals I found this year was for 3 nights at The Ritz-Carlton’s Key Biscayne property in Miami.

Key Biscayne is a tiny island that’s both secluded and so close to South Beach you can see it from your balcony. The island is fairly suburban and sleepy, so if you are looking to party in Miami (~30 minute drive to South Beach), this may not be the best location for you.

As a member, you now get better savings when you book direct.

Luckily, I was looking for a laid-back, poolside weekend, which the hotel happily delivered. I was also lucky enough to a score a lie-flat bed to Miami on my flight over for $106.20, so my weekend of pampering (read: ballin’ on a budget) was already off to a good start when I arrived.

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View of one of two pool areas from my balcony, with South Beach in the distance

Getting There

From Miami International Airport (MIA), it’s easy to hail an uber, which will cost you roughly $20-$25 for the ~30 minute ride. The drive is pretty; you ride past the downtown Miami skyscrapers and can see boats go down the Intercoastal.

The Property

The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne is known for its tennis center. Aside from that, there are 2 pools (an adults-only pool, which is where I spent my time), a “beach” (more on that below), and a pool that can be used by families. There’s also a gym, which is top-notch.

The Room

I booked an Oceanfront View room, which had an incredible view of the ocean, South Beach, and the hotel pools.

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My glorious bed.

I cannot say enough good things about the bed – it was incredibly comfortable, and the turn-down service and A/C also helped me sleep like a baby.

Pearl Watch

The bathroom was big, with a separate shower and bathtub. Also, the room’s entertainment system allows you to log into Netflix, so if you wanted to put on a robe and spend a night binge watching your favorite shows, you definitely can.

Basically No Beach

If you’re heading to Miami for a beach vacation, this might not be the property for you.

Although the hotel is situated next to the water, the beach is not the crystal clear blue-type water you’d normally expect in South Florida, and it’s not the best swimming beach (lots of seaweed).

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Picture taken about a 10-minute stroll south of the hotel property.

Still, you can hear the waves crash at night and I would recommend taking a stroll down the beach and the nearby dunes.

Overall

For the right price, I would definitely stay at the Ritz-Carlton, Key Biscayne again. The room was comfortable with a gorgeous view, the property was beautiful, and the proximity to the water are hard to beat.

Note that the trip I took was in June, which is not ideal for visiting Miami, as it’s start to getting way too hot. That said, Key Biscayne is more of a laid-back island with a nice breeze coming through it, and the heat wasn’t unbearable.

What’s your favorite hotel in Miami? Let me know in the comments!

Earn 10% in Uber credits for everyday purchases using Visa Local Offers

Some of my most popular posts on Josh Trips are my reviews of using Uber overseas. Since you, my awesome readers, are generally interested in Uber, I wanted to share a promotion that Uber is using right now called Visa Local Offers. Note that this is not available to all Uber users, so you will need to check your app to see if it’s been offered to you.

When you log into Uber, click the bottom (below your most recently used address), and scroll down until you find Visa Local Offers. The screen you have to click looks like this (at the very bottom):

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The only thing you’ll have to do once you find Visa Local Offers is to read the terms and click Accept, and you’ll be automatically enrolled in the program.

Many restaurants and retailers are enrolled, so you should begin earning money right away. Two of my favorite stores included in the offer are Walgreens and Whole Foods — getting 10% in Uber credits for my prescriptions, essentials, and groceries is a great deal. Below is a sample of some other offers in San Francisco:

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The coolest part about this is that the Uber credits are instantly put into your account for immediate use.

If you don’t have Uber yet, use this link to sign up!

San Francisco Trip Deal: $399 round-trip from SFO to Shanghai on China Southern

China Southern, a member of the SkyTeam Alliance, is putting flights from San Francisco, California to Shanghai, China on sale! Flights start at $399 round-trip, after taxes with very good availability in September and October.

Note that Google Flights will price the flight at $400, but it will be $399 when booking either on Priceline or direct through China Southern. Feel free to take pictures of the how you spent the dollar you saved and send them to Josh Trips!

To find this deal, use Google Flights and search for business class flights between SFO and PVG.

Alaska Airlines slashing elite status and earning benefits with American Airlines

Earlier this year, Alaska Airlines ended its partnership with Delta. Today, the airline announced that its partnership with American Airlines would be changed dramatically beginning January 1, 2018. A great guide to the change in benefits can be found here.

If you regularly read Josh Trips, you know that I’ve been trying to status on Alaska Airlines this year based on the merger with Virgin America and the partnership with American Airlines. In fact, I am currently an American Airlines elite Gold member, and I was working to trade that for Alaska elite membership this year.

The most striking change, for me, is that you will no longer receive elite benefits when traveling on American Airlines if you are an Alaska Airlines elite member – something I relied on while going for status with Alaska.

Some other bad news? Alaska is devaluing the value of its award miles. See below for an updated chart:

Alaska updated reward chart

Although some routes have the miles required dropping, most routes are going up (some, significantly).

I think it’s pretty shady for Alaska and American to be announcing this change in July, when over half the year has passed and customers have made flying decisions based on the partnership. I called Alaska to express my concern about this, and how I never would have flown Alaska (or, at least, would have credited those miles towards American) if I had known about this, and the customer service representative accused me of being “sneaky,” saying that’s never how they intended their elite program to be used. I found this comment to be pretty rude and offensive, and after a bunch of complaining, was credited with $75 miles towards a future flight.

I asked for help getting my Alaska flights this year credited to American instead, but was told it’s too late.

With this change, I am officially (and again) stopping my quest for status on Alaska and will end up without status on American next year as well.

Will the change in American and Alaska’s partnership effect you? Let me know in the comments!