It took about 24 years for me to appreciate cities. And a few year ago, I actually started to like walking around new cityscapes. Before, my thoughts were: Why would you travel to do a city tour? A weekend getaway to a new town? What would you do there? Why would you go? Do you even have a plan? Isn’t nature so much nicer? Why is it so special to see as many sights as possible?
Now, I found my own way to look at. I don’t go to a new city to go shopping. Even the sightseeing bus isn’t the most interesting. And taking the underground everywhere? Those don't give me the feel of a city. Those activities make the trip more stressful for me. That's not relaxation. I don't get refreshed by rushing from sight to sight. I like to walk and I walk a lot.
It’s something so simple. It’s very basic. It takes time. But by doing so, I am taking a lot of the stress out of the equation. I am forcing myself to limit the sights I want to see. I’m moving my body. And I am slowing down. Feeling the city. Seeing the veins through which the energy a town pulses. And I experience the scale of the city I am exploring much better.
I feel that this is something so beautiful. Seeing areas where a normal sightseeing tourist would never go. Seeing the artworks hidden between small roads. The parks on the way to the next spot.
I not going to see the big statues or not as many of them. But I see so much more personality of a city. Instead of focusing on the prestige, which somehow always feels fake, anyways.
I feel like this approach makes me experience the local culture better. It makes scale experienceable. It’s something that gives me a special perspective on a city. An eye-level view. Not elevated. Not rushing. Walk and see.
I do this by my self a lot. But it’s also fun with a partner or in a small group. You can find so many places. Shops. Restaurants. Views over the city. Or you can meet locals on your way and have a new, meaningful conversation. It’s exciting. And more often than not, I find something that I would have never put on my exploring map but is super individual.
I encourage you to do the same some time. Look at a map. See which sights you would like to see and let google figure out how long it will take you to walk there. Then you can perfect the route by adding some detours to things that look interesting. Then make time for it. It’s an experience. It's walk, feel and see.