A few weeks ago, I wrote about the best ways to discover new places—run, cycle or walk. In the piece, I referred to David Byrne’s book Bicycle Diaries in which he shares stories of how cycling the many US and foreign cities he visits on tour enables him to get a sense of the culture and the people. Putting your feet to work on the ground or on the peddles transforms you from a sightseer to a follow-human being. You can touch the walls, smell the flowers and cooking, listen to the accents and inflections in residents’ voices, exchange smiles and read expressions on their faces.
I began to take early morning runs in Philadelphia this summer and for the first time I am seeing many of the sites I’d driven past my entire life. Driving inside the cocoon of a car reduces your surroundings to one-dimensional facades, like the stage setting of the Wild West town in Blazing Saddles.
Thanks to my trusty running shoes, I now see the fullness of the city and its neighborhoods. I pass people on their way to catch a bus, walking their dog or leaving a café. In just these few short weeks, I’ve been reintroduced to the city where I was born and my appreciation has been revived.
Follow along on a run through some Philly neighborhoods:
Sometimes I finish the workout by running up the Art Museum steps where Rocky Balboa trained for his fight with Apollo Creed. When I get to the top, I turn around and look down Benjamin Franklin Parkway at one of the most spectacular sites of any city I’ve visited anywhere in the world.
Try it. Get out and run, cycle or walk your town or city. You will be surprised by what you find, and happy you found it.