This story is adapted from the Condé Nast Traveler section of a similar name.
Where have you just returned from?
“Last October, I flew to Europe for 14 days, adding three new countries to my list: Ireland, San Marino, and the Vatican. This brings my globe-total to 20. It may not be a lot for some people, but believe me, among my many friends in the U.S.A. and even Europe, it’s a significant number.”
Where in the world do you feel happiest?
“Wherever I am with my family will always feel home. If you want a non-Ms. Universe answer, I would have to say Konstanz, Germany. My best friend and brother from another mother, Clemens, lives there with his wife and two-year-old. Runners-up include Verderonne, France and Basel, Switzerland.”
But you’ve spent a lot of time in the U.S.
“Totally. The U.S. is my home and where I find myself living in the forseeable future, unless….”
What do you always take with you?
“In terms of fashion, I always have a trench coat. I remember going to Germany in September wearing a trench. As soon as I stepped off the plane, I knew I wasn’t going to use it at all.
I always have a tub of hairstyling goop with me. Everything else I can buy local, but I get visibly frazzled when a strand of hair is out of place because I am not wearing the right type of styling product.
My iPhone also travels with me, for obvious reasons, as well as my Olympus OM-D EM10. Yes, the camera on my phone has come a long way, but they will never be able to compete with a well-calibrated micro four-thirds.”
If you could travel back to one period or decade, what would it be?
“I don’t know if there’s one.”
Describe your most memorable view.
“This is easy. My first trip to Europe in 2012, on my last day in the South of Germany before I fly back to Brussels, Clemens—the abovementioned best friend—took me to the Rhine Falls in Switzerland. We got there pretty late, I would say around 7:00 p.m., so it was quite dark already. It didn’t matter though, when I saw the waterfalls, I cried. It was one of those moments of me realizing how far I’ve come from being an introverted boy in school, to the still-introverted working boy, but is now traveling to Europe by himself.”
Which are your favorite cities?
“In Japan, I love Osaka. It blends the romantic, old-Japan feeling of Kyoto with the modernity of Tokyo. It was also a lot easier to navigate compared to the latter. Or maybe it was because most of the places I visited were in the tourist-heavy neighborhoods.
In France, it’s a bitter fight between Lyon and Paris. I’ve only been to Lyon once, and it was during the summer season so I didn’t enjoy walking around as much because I was busy not dying of heat exhaustion; I’ve been to Paris way too many times to count. Both cities offer something that appeals to my wannabe French soul.
In North America, I gotta give it to New York and Montreal, for many of the reasons that people give them.
There’s also a special place in my heart for Brussels, for no other reason except it’s the first European city I have been to.”
Your go-to music addresses?
“I love the Temple Bar district in Dublin. Duck into any bar at any given night and you’re guaranteed live music. If you want me to be a little more specific, I definitely enjoyed my time at Bad Bobs. It gets quite busy there especially during the weekends, but you’re always guaranteed a great time.’
And your must-see acts?
“I can’t say I have one. I will say though that I’m going to Atlantic City, New Jersey in February to see the Italian opera band Il Volo.”
Tell us about a great little place you know.
“In Rome, there’s a small cocktail bar called Fischio where you can get some pretty bad-ass Aperol Spritz, Gin Tonics, and Negronis—they don’t skimp on the alcohol—for about 5€.”
The best hotel you’ve stayed in?
“Shibuya Excel Hotel Tokyu. I paid $112 for this centrally located hotel (it’s only a five-minute walk to the Shibuya Crash). The breakfast was just amazing.”
Sightseeing or sunbathing?
“Sightseeing. Although I do enjoy the occasional sojourn to, say, Miami Beach to bask in the sun, I find checking out new cities a lot more appealing.”
Any vacation mishaps?
“Twice I’ve missed my train because I incorrectly estimated time. This year, I didn’t make my Frecciarossa from Milan to Rome because I incorrectly assumed that my regional train from Monza (where I stayed the night previous) would drop me off at Milano Centrale. I took my time having breakfast—which was delicious, I have to say—and only gave me 35 minutes to travel to the Milano Centrale station. Guess who almost passed out after arriving to a now-empty train track?”