The InterNations Team includes employees living in a dozen countries and representing around 40 nationalities. With such a global reach, one thing’s for sure: there’s always a colleague to ask for some great recommendations and insider tips for your next vacation!
So why not spread the word? We asked five colleagues from five different countries to tell us more about their hometowns. Get inspired for your next trip with three very different coastal cities, a multicultural metropolis, and an exceptional example of a medieval German town …
“Quaint and Charming, with a Nautical Vibe”: Sarah from Sound Beach, NY, USA
I’m from Sound Beach, a secluded coastal town on Long Island, NY. We’re about a two-hour drive from New York City, the largest city in the US. But Sound Beach ― with a population of 7,612 ― has a very homey, nautical vibe.
Being born and raised there gave me a strong appreciation for the ocean. My family owns a small sailboat. So, they’d just make me wear a life jacket and take me out to sea from a very young age. And once I’d learned to swim, my dad taught me all I needed to know about sailing. This helped us forge a really strong relationship. My family’s current boat, Kirsa, is actually named after my sister (Kirsten) and me (Sarah), and I got its name tattooed in my dad’s handwriting. Now that I live so far from both the sea and my family, they’re still with me that way.
Long Island is very attractive for US tourists on their summer vacation. Port Jefferson, one of its larger harbors, has recently become more popular with international visitors too. And since it’s also connected to Connecticut by a short ferry ride, we’ve been getting a bit more traffic as well. If you’re ever in the Tri-State Area (New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania), just hop on the boat and stop by.
So far, Sound Beach has remained quaint and charming. Most of its restaurants and mom-and-pop stores are family-owned businesses. And anywhere outside the small town center is an ideal place to clear your head. On some beaches, it’s considered a busy day if you run into even two other people. You can rent a kayak to explore the shoreline, take a hike along the cliffs, and work up an appetite for our amazing seafood, such as lobster roll.
“A Tiny City-State with Lots of Character”: Khamnee from Singapore
I grew up on the East Coast of Singapore, among the neighborhoods located near the shoreline, running all the way out to the international airport. Actually, the airport is what quite a few people start bringing up once they hear where I’m from. It’s the part of Singapore that many European tourists know best since it’s their stopover on the way to Australia.
But my home is so much more — though the airport is very fancy, with its butterfly gardens and indoor waterfall. Singapore isn’t very big, and you can easily explore it during a five-day visit. But it’s a tiny country with plenty of character!
Go and see the neighborhoods that represent our main ethnicities and cultures: “Chinatown”, “Little India”, and “Arab Street”. Singapore’s a multiracial country, with the Chinese being the largest group, followed by Malays and Indians, such as myself. I miss living in such a multilingual and multicultural city. I miss being invited by my Muslim friends to celebrate Hari Raya Aidilfitri (the local term for Eid al-Fitr, the celebrations at the end of Ramadan) and then in turn sharing my traditions for Diwali, the Hindu Festival of Lights.
We also get to experience various international cuisines. So, you should definitely try several of our famous “hawker centers”. They’re basically little food courts with different stalls offering local favorites, such as Hainan Chicken Rice. But our national dish is Chili Crab. Despite the name, it’s actually sweet, rather than spicy, so don’t be afraid to give it a try.
Some hawker centers are also open around the clock. That’s another thing I miss about Singapore — that it’s a city that never sleeps. Want to go to a fish farm to catch and grill prawns at two o’clock in the morning? In Singapore, that’s always an option.
“A Hidden Gem on the Baltic Sea”: Margarita from Klaipeda, Lithuania
Before moving to Munich for my studies, I lived in Klaipeda, a Lithuanian port city on the Baltic Sea. The city offers a nice mix of the old and the modern. I love its historic center, with its cobblestone streets and timber-frame houses, and the small university campus with its red-brick buildings. Klaipeda used to have a large German population, and some neighborhoods still have a northern German vibe.
Despite its seaport, Klaipeda isn’t very international today. It has a sizable Russian-speaking minority and recently welcomed an influx of Ukrainian refugees. But there’s not much of a foreign community, and we don’t get that many visitors. The main exception are tourists briefly stopping by on a popular cruise ship route. Like most of the Baltic region, Klaipeda remains a bit of a hidden gem.
It’s very cozy, small enough to explore on foot before you have lunch at one of its homey restaurants. They mostly serve traditional food, so try the stuffed potato dumplings or cold beetroot soup. And you can always combine sightseeing with a beach vacation. The water’s cold — a bracing 19°C at most — but the scenery’s beautiful. The beaches are slightly untamed, separated from the city by pine forests. You can walk along the shore, among the white dunes, for hours and hours.
And if you haven’t had your fill of the seaside yet, go to nearby Palanga, a busy resort popular among the locals. That’s also what I miss the most — the seaside. I probably won’t move back to Lithuania, but Klaipeda and its beaches will be a part of me forever.
“A Picturesque Medieval Town with Instagram-Worthy Sights”: Margit from Regensburg, Germany
Unlike many other InterNations team members, I’m not an expat myself. I was born and raised just 150 km north of Munich, in Regensburg, a Bavarian town on the Danube River.
Growing up there sparked my lifelong interest in history. Founded as a Roman military camp near a strategic river crossing, Regensburg later became a medieval trading hub. At the height of its power, it used to be bigger and richer than Rome. Its historical city center, with its cobbled lanes, Gothic churches, and merchants’ houses, fortunately survived World War Two largely unscathed.
Even as a kid in elementary school, I loved joining guided tours around town. Though I didn’t have much of an actual knowledge of historical events, I had a very active imagination. I’d make up lurid stories about plague outbreaks, robber barons, and invading armies, from the legions of Marc Aurel to the troops of Napoleon.
Today, Regensburg is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and its picturesque Altstadt has turned into a tourist magnet. The first locals have already started complaining about overtourism, especially due to countless visitors from river cruises. But don’t let this deter you! Regensburg is well worth a visit for everyone interested in both historical architecture and Instagram-worthy backdrops for your selfies.
And after your city tour, just do as the locals do. On a warm summer’s night, grab a bottle of cold beer from Regensburg’s Kneitinger brewery and have a picnic somewhere along the Danube. Just relax, watch the boats go by, and maybe let the river of time carry you back to bygone eras.
“The Perfect Aussie Beach Life”: Kiki from the Gold Coast & Sunshine Coast, Australia
I don’t have a hometown as such. Since my father was in the Navy, our family moved around Australia a lot. But there are two places in Queensland, near Brisbane, that I feel very connected to: the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast. I have family in both, so it’s these towns that I think of whenever I hear the word “home”.
Though not as big as Brisbane, they aren’t small towns by any stretch of the imagination. And they’re very international too. In addition to lots of immigrants from Asia and Europe, there’s a sizable community of “Kiwis” in the Gold Coast. Many New Zealanders moving to Australia start out there because it’s such a well-known tourist destination. Surfer’s Paradise — quite literally speaking. That’s an actual place name from the area.
Though I’ve never been into surfing myself, I miss the relaxed Aussie beach life … the sun, the surf, and the warm weather. The beaches are always full of people from all walks of life. Families with toddlers splashing through the waves, plenty of sunbathers, tipsy students partying, and teens playing beach cricket. And with anyone being allowed to cast a line from the jetty, you’ll also see people fishing from the docks. I used to enjoy this a lot, too, before becoming a vegetarian.
There are several great animal sanctuaries in the area as well, for example, Steve Irwin’s Australia Zoo. My personal favorite’s the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. My parents took me there on family trips, and I’ve now introduced it to my German husband. As a kid, I simply called it the “bird place”, because it houses dozens of wonderful bird species, such as Rainbow Lorikeets. But it’s also home to other native animals, from koalas to crocodiles, which you can admire at a safe distance.
Image credit: Canva / InterNations / iStockphoto