All cities are exactly the same. They all have roads and buildings and people and maybe a handful of interesting attractions if they’re lucky. There isn’t really anything that makes them different. If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all.
Right. Well that isn’t quite true. If I wanted to get all poetic I would compare cities to snowflakes; they are all unique and special in their own little ways. I won’t do that because snowflakes melt and, as far as I know, cities don’t.
I haven’t traveled as much as I planned to yet, but I have been to enough cities to know that each one has its own distinctive character. Growing up just outside of Washington, D.C., I went downtown quite often. D.C. has an official feel to it, like everyone there has an important purpose driving them through the day. Last month I went to Dublin, which is about as far from D.C. as possible. No one in Dublin is in a hurry, and people will actually stop to help and give you directions, even if you aren’t lost. In Dublin, even if you do have somewhere to be you can still pause for a moment to listen to the buskers on the streets because whomever is waiting on you will understand. Although, I do have some qualms with the pigeons in Dublin. They don’t hesitate to drop a little surprise on your head while you wait for the bus.
A few weekends ago I traveled up to Edinburgh, Scotland. It’s fairly similar to Dublin except there are more men in kilts and bagpipers stationed every few yards or so. Everyone I met up there seemed to have the same view of it: it was big enough to have everything someone could want but small enough not to be overwhelming. Edinburgh is one of those cities that seems calm during the day but seems to come alive at night. Then again, that could have been due to the swarm of rowdy rugby fans who spilled out onto the streets that weekend.
Then there’s London, the city that is a little bit of everything, the city that is alive. The very air seems to pulse. Maybe it’s all the toxins in the atmosphere, and maybe not. Maybe it’s the vast history, the millions of different people, some casual witchcraft, or maybe it’s just the way London is.