City trips are one of the most popular weekends out.
And that’s easy to understand. Cities know the power of tourism. There is the architecture mostly showing a mix from 3, 4 or 5 centuries. Every type of restaurant finds its spot in a city. And it is the perfect place to launch all types of new concepts as it are stores, restaurants, bars, theatres,…
The proximity of all these different cultural, authentical, commercial and touristical diversity, all packed in walking distance makes cities the perfect weekend out.
I could have done Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Hamburg, Goteborg, Stockholm, Kiruna, Tromsø, Helsinki, Tallinn, Riga, Vilnius, Warshau, Prague,…
Europe is so ‘small’ you could endlessly be city tripping.
But I didn’t.
I have never felt a lot of love for a city. Although I have tried many times in Paris, London or Brussels. I doesn’t seem to work out between me and the city. So far the closest thing I feel to love is not wanting to run away. The urge to run away have struck me in Antwerp, Berlin and Riga.
Visiting a city for me is like going to Mc Donald’s: The moment you decide to go, there’s a little excitement joining you. You enter and you go to that magnificent screen where you can choose from the most exhilarating and newest inventions in Hamburgerland. The screen thanks you several times and makes some delicious suggestions you might be tempted to try. Most vibrant Colors guide your eyes and fingers until they kindly suggest to hand them over your honestly earned money.
The excitement is still there when you pick up your order or when it is served at your table by one of the staff who look like they already know what you’re going to experience when you open the little box.
And then you open the friendly designed box. This is where it all changes. In stead of that brilliantly designed haute cuisine burger you clicked on that glorious screen, the one you got is the most depressed bun of the day. With the first bite you immediately realise why it was more then a year ago you visited this place and you solemnly swear that you’re good for at least 2 years after this three-bites-burger is finished.
This is exactly what happens to me in a city. Even when I do my best. In advance I do some research, I find some things to do and visit and make a little route.
I visit the highlights, I look at it and am amazed, probably I’ll take a picture that doesn’t satisfy me, so some hours later I erase it. What I do like is watching the hordes of tourists. How everything is filmed from the selfiestick. That must be the most altruistic way of travelling. It seems they don’t see much more then the framing of their smartphone wired to a backpack full of power banks to survive the urban jungle. So they seem to narrow down there own view to be able to share that view with E-VE-RY-ONE! Isn’t that the nicest way of sharing the world😉?
Soon after my descent on the highlight I get bored and start wandering through the centre. I just go randomly around and mostly this becomes the best part of my visit to the big city. And mostly this wandering ends at a little square with a statue of some local forgotten talent that is in not a single guide book, where I sit until it is time to leave.
I also admit that (window) shopping is one of my favourite disinteresses, when I spot the opportunity not to do it, I will make it a priority.
And for this trip, my machine is not city friendly. Bremen, St Petersburg and Vilnius, I visited on foot. And in Vienna I dressed out my bike and went with a naked bike, hihi.
I still aim at cities, because most roads lead into them, but I’ll bend my route just before arriving.
I don’t hate cities, there is only a lack of love. But there is 1 thing that really has annoyed me! That is Leaving the cities by bicycle.
I have had the same experience over and over again. Leaving a city by bicycle looks almost impossible. I got bounced off to the highway on almost every occasion. Sometimes a city has bicycle lanes, and some cities might be called bicycle friendly. But each time somewhere outside of the centre these bicycle lanes stop, and it is not exceptional that they stop somewhere at a highway exit. Which makes some sense when you talk about carpool or cycling to a bus stop. But there is often no way to go further by bike. When there’s a big river to be crossed, in my experience, it is even worse. And when you’re not pushed on a highway, it will certainly be on a very busy industrial road. The most scary parts have always been on these occasions when I try to leave a big city and when I’m forced into dense, big and fast traffic.
Strangely entering a city seems mostly going quite easy.
So, please, show me to rivers, lakes, small roads and quiet towns!