When you travel, exploring the city to its fullest seems like a natural idea. There is a limited amount of time and you hastily run around to soak everything up. Who knows whether you will get to visit that place twice, right?
It is somehow different for the place where you live. I often find myself thinking that I have all the time in the world to explore the city. There is no need to rush and speed to visit all the galleries and museums. Your home is the place to savour long walks, embrace the vibe of every street and make a map of your favourite coffee shops.
It all sounds charming in my head. The reality is a bit worse, as always.
When we live in a city permanently, we procrastinate. We save all the city tours and savouring for later. Have you ever met someone who woke up on a Saturday morning and thought: “What a perfect day to visit a history museum at the other end of the city?” If some of you have, I am in awe. More often than not, we end up staying at home or visiting a friend, or writing a paper. Papers do have deadlines, unlike sightseeing in your home city.
Every time I just end up being busy with life. Instead of seeing the beauty of the old town, I am looking down to not trip over while being late for university. I know the roads that get me where I need to be - I do not know what happens in the places where there is no underground station nearby. Erasmus students probably know more about my home than I do. I learn so much from their experiences.
I remember when I had an interview with an Erasmus student and she was talking about the time when she visited a new glass bridge. It was not new, to be honest - it had been finished for 2 years. On the opening day, there were so many people there, and she was among the first ones to visit. I listened to how excited she was about it and what a breathtaking view one can get from there. She laughed a bit too hard when I confessed that I hadn’t seen it myself.
This happened for many other well-known places. I always thought that I would visit them one day. One day hasn't happened for a long time. Then the pandemic hit.
A pandemic can sometimes seem like the worst. However, there are plenty of things to be thankful for. I love that people do not breathe on my neck in a queue, for example. I also enjoy the time that I have to rediscover myself and the world around me.
You see, it is the pandemic that pushed me to notice my surroundings. It was not about getting from point A to point B anymore. It was about looking at what the way has to offer. All the little details that seemed so irritatingly familiar became not as familiar as they seemed.
There was this ugly building that I tried not to look at every morning. I was a bit bored and very lonely that day so I decided to look up. What if someone else is as lonely as I am? I found sleepy people on the balconies and the smell of dinner being prepared. It was so vibrant and welcoming, I felt like a part of this buzzing home too. It was the story of how a familiarly hideous building became so beautiful all of a sudden. I just had to really see it.
So book a sightseeing tour. Get up on a Saturday morning and go to that museum at the other end of the city. Stumble across unknown streets. Fall in love with your home all over again.