Walking is the only way to learn a city. I’ve never been able to pick up a feel for a city any other way. Being driven or driving in a car just doesn’t help me get a sense of place. It’s only after several days of pounding the pavement that I finally feel as if I can navigate without the help of a map or a GPS.
I’ve been doing my best to traverse the key neighbors in Frankfurt on foot over the last few days. I’ll set out for a basic destination like the grocery store or pharmacy on foot without my phone. Then I’ll choose something further afield like a restaurant or shopping center. Today I went for the ultimate test. I set off for the city center to visit a museum. Specifically Goethe House.
I barely needed to check my map at all. I made it to the philosopher’s house without any issues. I enjoyed an hour or two of history and then I set off on my journey back. I remembered a restaurant I wanted to visit on the way back. I realized I was near a store I’d been meaning to visit so I veered off track to check in. I found myself in a new district entirely. I spent some time visiting a mall. And then I set back for my Airbnb.
My the end my lifeline, aka my phone, had run out of battery. But I still knew exactly where I was. I was picking up my place in space. I was centered. And also extremely tired as I walked 13,000 steps steps in the space of three hours.