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Where Are Your Favorite Walks?

Buzz Poole
04/23/2013 - 06:33
via The New York Times

The New York Times recently ran "Europe, in 9 Walks," a fun look at strolls along routes through cities and landscape that encourage an ambling pace and plenty of time to stop, eat, people watch, and get a sense for how the locals live. Of course, the idea of suggesting nine walks - in this case, in London, Berlin, Paris, Prague, Madrid, Tuscany, Scotland, Istanbul, and Switzerland - out of the countless number you can do across Europe is a bit silly but it does drive home the point that our two feet are the best way to explore a location.

Of the walks mentioned in the article, I've done two: the Millennium Bridge in London and Cava Baja in Madrid. It is quite a sight to cross the Thames as the sun sets late in the evening at the height of summer. Perhaps you're coming or going from the Tate Modern, V&A, or London Eye. Here's how the Times describes the walk's greatest quality: "there is no better spot . . . from which to appreciate London as a palimpsest, the new gracefully overlaid on the old, as if every era co-existed with every other era in perpetuity, all at once." In Madrid, the two blocks that comprise Cava Baja are jammed with tapas places. "The reason tapas restaurants outside Spain never have the right vibe," explains the Times, "is that they mistake a means for an end." In Spain, as these blocks prove, tapas is all about sampling and then moving on to the next place, trying new things and meeting new people.

That's the great thing about walking, no matter where you are - it is so easy to check out something, anything, that grabs your attention. Perhaps it is how the sun hits a building or the smell of a bakery. It doesn't matter because you can simply stop, investigate, and then move on, or not. There really isn't a place I've been where I haven't taken a long, meandering walk in order to get a feel for it.  

Back in the mid '90s I did the now famous Cinque Terre walk and to this day it remains one of my top-rated travel experiences. It wasn't overrun with travelers then, and most of them were Italians on vacation. We perched on the rocks and drank local wine from the bottle, swam, descended steep stairs to find the best pizza ever, and took in the view from the path carved in along the hillside. I haven't been back to Cinque Terre since then. Between becoming hugely popular and recent flooding that destroyed the path between the towns, I'm pretty sure the area isn't the same as I remember. But my memories of that walk several years ago will never change (or they will become even better with the patina of nostalgia).    

Where are your favorite walks?

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