I’m not used to follow the to-do lists even if I do usually check them before departure-arrival time – just to get the sense of what to pay closer attention to. But there is one to-don’t I always comply with: don’t know exactly where you’re going.
It’s not only about the anti-adventurous spirit of precise goals and the narrowness of top-sight lists. It’s a fact: you ignore most of the city and definitely miss its point if you’re only interested in its monuments and the famous streets, statues, museums, cafés or whatever. When you’re focused on that one or a few things you absolutely have to see, then you forget about the fun and the view you might enjoy on the way there. You stay blind for all the possibilities, for the true face of the streets, for the essence of the city that is hiding right in between the main scenes.
You may walk through the same streets and look at the same things, but your attitude changes with the determination and precision of your goal. You don’t see the streets themselves, you only see them as a means to an end. I actually believe that even when you arrive at your destination, you only see what you expect to see and in any case you miss what everything is all about.
I can declare that with such confidence, because I’ve been there and done that. I felt safer at the beginning of my solo-travels if I knew exactly where I was going and what I would see, if I felt my time is clearly organised between several things and very importantly my day filled with activities. We always fear of being inactive, not to see enough and not to visit them all in the short amount of available time. Above all, we fear of being bored, especially when we travel alone. It’s a bitter irony that these are the reasons we end up missing things out and not savouring as much as we could.
One learns that pretty soon, though, if she continues to travel. I did too. I only needed a few days in a beautiful European metropolis to start my lesson of getting lost in city streets and letting my own intuition guide me. It was then I discovered their mood, their treasures, and my personal favourites.
Now, the only decision I have to make in the morning is to choose which quarter I’ll be exploring that day. Then, I only have to walk there (or take the public transport if it’s really too far) and see where the streets take me, not worrying at all about the top sights – they’re usually quite impossible to ignore anyway. It’s as simple and as delightful as it can get.