Wander-Like

By September 13, 20142014, Europe

I have this stubborn drive to get myself lost while travelling. I’ve stuck to this habit since I was 17, and Europe gave me plenty of opportunity to exercise the wander impulse. Contrary to what most people imagine, getting lost in a metropolitan city (during the day) can be relaxing. My first day in Vienna was sparked by stepping off the bus and realizing that my map of the city had gone AWOL. Believing downtown to be somewhere northeast, and not especially concerned, I worked my way northward. Eventually I stumbled on to an urban walking trail (which are pleasantly common to Vienna) which led me through some of the loveliest metropolitan woods I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting. This winding, uphill trail took me into a small residential district, and from there I followed a busy looking road eastward. My rationale was that all busy urban roads lead downtown at some junction (I wasn’t wrong; I was maybe 10 minutes outside of downtown). From there I turned downhill (desperately needing a bathroom: every wanderer’s bane) through the longest residential district on the planet. I ended up in a small, smoky bar in a calm shopping and office district, where I discovered that three years of German had equipped me with a valuable skill. Then I saw St. Stephen’s Cathedral, which was gorgeous. Getting lost isn’t nearly as bad as people fear (although, I do have examples of how things can get depressing fast when you’re lost). Getting lost gives you an opportunity to step out of the habit of habit: of needing to be comfortable with your surroundings, to always plan ahead, to never not know for sure what you need to do next. It’s an opportunity to slip out of time and experience something new.

 

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