On this solo trip around Europe I have taken upon the challenge of trying to experience as much of each city as possible within the short time in each place. So far (I am writing this on the train from Venice to Switzerland) I have walked 79.7 miles in 7 days. This may seem like a lot, and it is, but what that number doesn't show you is the incredible things I have seen. From the Eiffel Tower and Louvre in Paris to the Colloseum in Rome to the Palazzo Ducale in Venice. These 80 miles have allowed to me to see more than I ever thought I could. You may be asking yourself, why not just take the metro or a cab? And while sometimes I did in the effort to catch a train or fast forward a route I had already travelled, I believe when in a new city the best way to explore is on foot.
Yes, I could have just zipped around on the metro and seen the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triumph in half the time, but that would have caused me to miss the live band playing on the Champ Elysses. I could have taken a cab between the Spanish Steps and the Pantheon, but I would have missed the coffee shop that brews their espresso with water brought in from the mountains via the original aqueducts. I could give countless more examples but the point being this: a city is not simply comprised of its landmarks, its true character lies in the people that populate it's streets. These people give off a unique vibe, have opened stores and shops that represent the sentiment of the city. Without exploring on foot, I don't think I would be able to comfortably say that I have experienced these places. This also brings up the important point of first impressions and how individuals can represent a city, but more on this in the next blog. So while sometimes I have been tired and wanted to take a cab or train to get to my destination, I think I owe it to myself to walk, to explore, to truly experience the city I am in.