Walking is the Best Way to Experience a New Place

By Samantha Scott
June 23, 2015

My feet are hurting, I’m sweating, I need to buy a water, but my significant lack of Hungarian language skills is preventing this.  

It was the first month of my study abroad experience and I was on my own for what felt like the first time in forever. My introvert tendencies of needing ample alone time to recharge had been tested with all the “welcome to your host country” activities and meeting my new classmates. 

I needed this walk to clear my head, but also I needed to feel like I was a part of Budapest on my own. Rather than as the obnoxious American student I feared I became as a part of the study abroad bubble.  

I meandered across the bridges, tried out my angsty photography style on some artistic shots underneath Elizabeth Bridge on the Buda side of the Danube. Wound my way up Gellert Hill and stopped to take in the impressive statues. 

I was getting tired when I come upon Fisherman's Bastion. This structure is one of the most popular sites in Budapest, and to me always looked extremely out of place. Like it belonged in Disneyland or something. There was something fantasy-like about it's architecture and it seemed to exist out of time. Some areas seemed nicely restored while others were wild and untamed.

We’d visited here on one of our very first outings as a group, but I didn’t feel like I’d gotten a proper look at it. 

Walking at my own pace, taking in the views and feeling the early spring chill, I was able to truly contemplate where I was and the impressive history surrounding me. 

When you’re visiting an unknown place, walking allows you to experience it as people have experienced it for centuries. Even though you might be among cars, trucks, buses, tourists, technology, new buildings, and modernity, the sensation of feeling the ground beneath your feet doesn’t change. It’s a way to appreciate how large or small a city is in a way that traveling by vehicle just doesn’t provide. 

Walking is the best way to experience a new place by far. It affords you the option of turning new corners, discovering local spots, and being among locals going about their everyday lives. 

And sometimes it's the best way to get away from it all and clear your head, which believe it or not, you do need to do, even while traveling.

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Comments
By Jared Alster
June 29, 2015 at 10:14 AM
Great story Samantha! I agree - I love to head out by foot first thing and explore a new city.
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