Often when we travel, especially to places in close proximity to each other, cities can begin to blend in with one another. When there are only minor changes to us as travellers in architecture, food, or even music, it can be hard to see each place in its singularity. It is incredibly common these days to take a trip that involves visiting a multitude of cities in one go, and though this can get the most out of your money and time, sometimes it leaves you feeling as though you cannot remember each place individually. Time and time again, I have had to stop to try and remember whether it was Berlin or Prague that had a street full of incredible political graffiti, or whether it was in Zagreb or Sarajevo that we had seen a museum for broken hearts.
It used to take me a very long time to try and find something that had cultury connected me to a place, the memory of the streets would blend together in my head, and I could never find anything that would link me to a specific place. It would bother me greatly, because I would remember how I had felt when I was walking through each place individually, and had appreciated each one’s uniqueness at the time, but on looking back I could not remember that same feeling. I felt as though, in a way, I had wasted my experience, because it was important for me to feel like I had truly visited a country and understood its culture.
For me, travelling through Japan was the moment I realised I needed to find a way of connecting to the uniqueness of each place, so that they each had their clear place in my head. I had never been the type of traveller to plan every detail of my trip, avidly ticking off tourist attractions as I went along. I was more of a wistful wanderer, but at that moment, I decided that walking around a city just taking in the atmosphere was not enough for me anymore. In order to really get the best out of a place, I needed to find the things in that place that could not be found anywhere else. Whether that was food, music, dance, I needed to discover the idiosyncrasies of the places I was visiting, to truly feel like I had connected with them. The question for me was, what made a place distinctive, and how could I explore that? I made a real effort to read up on local life in those areas. Fish markets in Tokyo, bee museums in little Slovenian villages, a spinach cake in Provence; the more effort I made to find these unique places, traditions, and delicacies, the more I was rewarded. I took a cooking class on the native country’s food, and would be completely absorbed in to a culinary world that was so specific to the place.
It wasn’t long before each and every location I visited had a little memory that was specific to it. I continued to do my usual wandering, but I also had specific activities that I would make sure to do during my trip. I began to feel so much more fulfilled, so much more in touch with the destinations that I was visiting. Even now, when I look back on any of my recent travels, I can clearly recall the activities I did in that place, and how they link in with the entire atmosphere of that place.
Previously I felt like travelling had become a little dull, places began to blend in so much that I could not appreciate each one separately. I can now genuinely say that I remember each and every one of the places I visit, in their beautiful singularity.