These are the world’s 10 happiest cities, according to a survey of 10,000 people in 20 countries. There’s bogus news and then there’s really bogus news. How many of the ten chosen are really “happy” — versus the fantasies of people who’ve never been there think they are, which the guy who runs this survey admits he’s collecting?
Top of the list is Rio de Janeiro, whose favelas, child killings and rich/poor divide are as legendary as Ipanema and its beaches. Then there’s Sydney, a physically lovely city that takes 20 hours flying time from New York and $2,000 or so in airfare to even get to, and has some of the sourest, rudest people I’ve ever met in visiting 37 countries. I was actually thrown out of a restaurant there for — wait for it — being told I was talking too loudly with a friend. The entire restaurant burst into applause as we were shown the door. Happy? This is the behavior of happy people?
Melbourne, I agree; one of my favorite cities anywhere, anytime. Amsterdam, let’s ask T/S contributor Bart, our resident expert. I don’t think of the Dutch as gleeful, somehow — there’s Dutchman Theo van Gogh, his throat slit on November 2, 2004 for daring to make a film critical of Muslims and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali-born politician who worked with him on the film Submission, now living in hiding in Holland under police protection after van Gogh’s murder. Bart told us this week that the Dutch like to harrass police, firefighters and ambulance workers. Is this really what happy people do?
The rest include Madrid, San Francisco (the only U.S. city that made the cut), Paris, Rome, Barcelona and Buenos Aires. Much as j’adore Paris, a city I’ve lived in and visited many times, I wouldn’t describe Parisians as wildly happy either. It’s a city that’s crowded, costly and even though it’s full of clean and safe public toilets, needs a pee police squad handing out tickets to its many public urinators, has much less green space than Manhattan, and there’s a transit strike every 20 minutes; if like me, you’re caught in the most central 1st. arrondissement and have to walk home to the 15th., the furthest edge of the city, you’re certainly not smiling all the way.
Which city, in this list or elsewhere, do you think really is the happiest? Why?