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Six Degrees Of Separation: From Moscow to Cape Town

Six Degrees of Separation for books is a monthly meme hosted by Kate. Each month Kate decides on a starting book and based on that everyone builds a chain of six books. Feel free to join in and post your link here.

Starting point: Moscow (A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles)

This month’s starting point is A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. I promise this will be the last you hear about this book from me. When I started reading it, I thought about never having been to Moscow. I love many of the metropolises of the world and since I already did a traditional chain with A Gentleman in Moscow, I will use this post to pay tribute to some of my favourite cities.

1. New York (The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald)

The city seen from the Queensboro Bridge is always the city seen for the first time, in its first wild promise of all the mystery and the beauty in the world.

I lived in Manhattan for a while and had the time of my life. I remember walking to the office every morning with a big smile on my face. I don’t think that has happened ever since.

2. London (Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf)

In people’s eyes, in the swing, tramp, and trudge; in the bellow and the uproar; the carriages, motor cars, omnibuses, vans, sandwich men shuffling and swinging; brass bands; barrel organs; in the triumph and the jingle and the strange high singing of some aeroplane overhead was what she loved; life; London; this moment of June.

New York was love as first sight, whereas London has won me over little by little. By now, London is my favourite city.

3. Sydney (Down in the City by Elizabeth Harrower)

The city, to her, meant a few particular blocks – the best blocks – lying together in a neat rectangle, linked by arcades and department stores … Three or four times a week she walked the streets of these blocks, smelt the coffee, the flowers, the rich expensive leather, the cosmetics.

Sydney was the first city I visited outside of Europe. Beautifully located with beaches, mountains and the iconic bridge and opera house. It took my breath away!  

4. Barcelona (The Labyrinth of the Spirits by Carlos Ruiz Zafón)

She let herself be lulled by the perfume of the words and was soon lost among them, succumbing to the torrent of images and rhythms that oozed from the story of Ariadna’s adventures and her descent into the depths of that enchanted Barcelona.

Every time I visit Barcelona I walk along the beach. Even at winter time, it is wonderful. Add to that Gaudi, Picasso, Miro, Sagrada Familia, Tapas,…

5. Berlin (Berlin Childhood around 1900 by Walter Benjamin)

Not to find one’s way around a city does not mean much. But to lose one’s way in a city, as one loses one’s way in a forest, requires some schooling. Street names must speak to the urban wanderer like the snapping of dry twigs, and little streets in the heart of the city must reflect the times of day, for him, as clearly as a mountain valley.

I love how the presence of history can be felt when walking around in Berlin and after the unification the city seems to attract artists and creative people in abundance.

6. Cape Town (The Cottingley Secret by Hazel Gaynor)

Yorkshire had none of the color I’d known in Cape Town- the vivid pinks and purples of the freesias and arum lilies in the flower sellers’ baskets. Yorkshire had none of the fragrant floral perfume, or the tang of salt in the air from the ocean.

Cape Town can fight Sydney for ‘best location’. The view from the Table Mountain is spectacular and a visit to Robben Island is a grim reminder of the country’s history.

These were some of my favourites. Which cities do you like to visit, in the literature or in real life?

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Six Degrees Of Separation: From Moscow to Cape Town


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