Familiar Cities

March 19th, 2014, 2pm

The more you travel, the more cities you visit that you’ve been to before.

These return trips are a different experience from visiting new cities, because you don’t spend as much time at the lower-left, nearly flat end of the learning curve, and because novelty requires more effort to find. The facets you haven’t discovered before are inherently more difficult to discover; at least from whatever point of view (or part of town) is your default.

This is a hindrance, in a way, for folks who are hoping for a kindergarten experience: everything easily accessible, very little work required to discover unfamiliar flavors or music or whatever. The benefits, though, are much like the benefits of a university experience over that of primary school: you work harder, but the payoffs are greater, in terms of depth, satisfaction, and impact.

I believe this to be one of the main reasons long-term travelers consider themselves a separate creature than their tourist brethren. The contrast in how they travel is multifaceted, but the main, overarching difference is in what they take home.

One group enjoys the surface of things, perhaps even a broad, expansive surface. The other tears past the surface into the mantle, and upon return visits, may even catch a glimpse of the core of what makes a place, a place. What makes it tick and unique in its ticking.

I’m in Seattle right now, and will be venturing out on a month-ish-long book tour after that. The cities I’ll be visiting, like Seattle, will be familiar, as most major US cities are to me at this point. But I hope that despite the brevity of the visits I’ll be able to chip away a little bit more at the surface I’ve encountered before, heading deeper toward the content I really enjoy. Moving past the whitewashed branding of a place and into the nucleus upon which everything else is built.

The seed from which a city is grown.

Valerie, Boris and Ross said thanks.

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Colin Wright

Author, entrepreneur, and full-time traveler / I move to a new country every four months based on the votes of my readers / My work (http://colin.io) / My blog (http://exilelifestyle.com) / My publishing company (http://asymmetrical.co)

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