Every city tells numerous stories, and helps us understand those who inhabit it. This is why we love travelling and exploring far-away lands. While donning your tourist hat this summer doesn’t seem a likely prospect, it’s comforting to know that your own city also harbours stories waiting to be told. Here are some great tactics to fuel your exploration ardour and set you up for a discovery mode:
LIST THE PLACES YOU WANTED TO VISIT PREVIOUSLY
We often tend to compile bucket lists of spots in our urban habitats to check out later on, when we have time. Now, this might be the time. Mark those that you can potentially inspect on your city walk at this time, put them on a map and plan your personal city tour.
PLAN A HISTORICAL TOUR
Typically, every city has a set of commonly known historical narratives that locals absorb still in their school years. Nevertheless, however much you know on the subject of your city’s history, it’s always possible to argue that it’s only scratching the surface. Dive into old maps, photos and online archives, note down the curiosities that peak your interest, do some prior research, make connections, and create a route out of them.
TAKE A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE ON THE MUNDANE
On a regular day in the city, we pass a myriad of common objects and structures that blend into the background. This could be the time to start noticing them, and question their history and origins. After all, these can often tell curious stories about the choices our societies made in the past.
HONE YOUR OBSERVATION FINESSE
As public places and entertainment facilities are shut down, this could be the high time to pay attention to familiar surroundings and start focusing on things we tend to overlook. Don’t just look ahead as you walk, look around, up and down, and let your eyes dwell on things, break them into components, ask yourself about the roles they are playing, and google them after all.
TAKE A CAMERA WITH YOU
It helps focusing when you’re on a lookout for unconventional sceneries, objects, perspective and angles. Ditch your smartphone if possible – we don’t want to create another 20 images of a cute tree, dog, whatever. Cherish the shots you’re about to make, try to keep them to the minimum and to the point, work on your composition skills.
SPOT THE PATTERNS
The ways in which specific city areas or neighbourhoods are built can give us many hints as to the neighbourhood’s age, initial purpose, how rapidly it developed, whether it has a zooming or declining population. For instance, the mix of architecture styles, types of buildings, their sizes, and eclectic planning will point to the area being an older one, that developed gradually, and served different purposes over time.
TALK TO LOCALS
People and their stories – this is what sprinkles “life” onto dry historical facts. Personal experiences have the potential to shape our understanding of the past, the context and enrich our knowledge with different perspectives. Seek the conversations with your family, neighbours or strangers likewise, if you really want to learn how your city developed.
TRY LOCAL FOOD
For a more encompassing exploration feel, grab and eat something new while strolling around a neighbourhood you’ve never been to. Another good matter to ask locals for recommendations on. Toronto is rather a vibrant spot when it comes to a variety of world cuisine – get at least your sense of taste to travel while you can’t!
P.S. If your exploration plans are ruined by the weather, do not despair – use this time to do more research, or get inspired by other things to do on a Rainy Weekend at Home.