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My latest TV addiction - The Cities of Money Heist

· Travel

After a couple of weeks focusing on actual travel and protocols, a word I am increasingly coming to dislike despite how important it is, I thought I'd go with a light-hearted ezine this week.

Earlier in this Covid era I shared my Top 5 TV shows of all time. Well, I have another that is making it's way up the charts quite rapidly. Netflix's "Money Heist" has me completely gripped as I enter Season 3 (of 5). Thrilling, romantic, intelligent, I am enthralled despite how totally far-fetched the plot may be. The strongest connection for me though is to the wide cast of characters, each of them with their own serious flaws, and I find myself drawn to many of them. Well it happens that each character has a codename of a major city in the world: Tokyo, Nairobi, Denver, Berlin, Moscow, Helsinki, Rio, Oslo and with a spoiler alert for later seasons, Stockholm, Lisbon, Palermo, Bogota, Marseille and Manila.

Of all those, I have only visited 5 personally, which sort of shocked me considering how well traveled I consider myself, but it also seems like a rather perfect fit for the J5 blog post.

Top 5 - The Cities of Money Heist

1. Helsinki 
A short visit to Helsinki on a very, very cold but stunningly bright couple of days in December 2016 invigorated and inspired me. I loved this city. The Allas Sea Pool below is open all year round and you can swim and sauna if you dare (I didn't). But I did enjoy the Helsinki Art Museum, Kortelli, a very upscale food court, and the Market Square and Hall where Christmas markets were in full swing.

2. Tokyo
Without doubt Tokyo is the city I've visited with the most incredible contrast between thousands of years of traditions still maintained, and the vibrant pop culture of an ultra-modern high tech society. I found it fascinating, exciting and a cultural wonderland.
You can thank me for not posting the short video version of the sushi photo, which had been part of an epic locals food tour. Yes, it was still wriggling (sorry).
The train below is the high speed Shinkansen bullet train that is as cool on the inside as it looks from the outside. My daughter and I took a short daytrip outside of Tokyo just to experience it, though I believe the Hayabusa train is actually the fastest in the country at just over 200mph.

3. Berlin
Tackle Berlin in any sort of depth and it's a sobering experience. It dates from the 13th century but only outside the center does any sign of that deep history remain. The 20th century brought the World Wars and nearly all the center was destroyed. The Holocaust Memorial (above) is stunning in its conception and meaning, a few segments of the graffitied Berlin Wall remain, and the Brandenburg Gate below, now symbolizes freedom and hope for the new Germany that has emerged following reunification.

4. Lisbon

Custard tarts! Well there's a little more to Lisbon than custard tarts, but I could not stop eating the local cult food that is Pasteis de Nata (above). I also highly recommend sipping a tawny Port with them. I even took a virtual cookery class a few months ago to learn how to make them. It is so not easy.
It's one of the hilliest cities you'll ever visit perhaps similar to San Francisco, and Lisbon's pastel colored buildings and the details in the decorative ceramic tiles that abound will charm the socks off you. With wide open beaches only 30 to 45 minutes away, Evora just over an hour, and Porto only a few hours, it's the perfect gateway to a full Portugal experience with logistics being one of the simpler European countries to configure it all smoothly for our clients.

5. Denver

I am doing a disservice to the city, but I have never actually spent a night in Denver. It's always been a gateway to the Rockies for our family, and on several occasions. If you do ever want to stay in Denver, then the excellent 4-star Crawford Hotel is located in the cool Union Station (above). My knees won't let me ski these days, but heading west out of Denver on Hwy 70 is always a good feeling, in any season. We've enjoyed summer trips to Colorado just as much as winter and the most recent winner was a summer break at Park Hyatt Beaver Creek (below). Restaurants, spa, hiking, golf, fly fishing, horseback riding and wine excursions all available, so bear that in mind for next year.

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