Whenever I visit great cities, like London or New York, it’s overwhelming how much there is to do and see in one place in too little time. Arriving in east bay California means I’m only 20 minutes away from San Fransisco, a fairly small city (in square km’s), but still offering a lot to explore. I’ve come up with a few little things I like to do (instead of reading guide books and calendars of events) to fill my time.
First, don’t carry any sort of map. Just use your well-travelled self to have a good enough sense of direction to find your way back to where you started. Just make sure you never look too lost, to avoid every nice person coming up to you and asking “are you lost? Can I help you find something?” since, you should have no idea what you’re looking for.
Then, walk in the direction that your senses pull you, and when you get to an intersection, turn in the direction you feel like. Whatever looks prettier, smells yummier, or sounds more interesting, go there. Get off the shopping streets and walk through some neighbourhoods, wander through an industrial area, or even end up in a poorer section of town to see the not-so-touristy picture perfect images of a city.
Finally, try and take a random bus/metro/trolley a few stops in an unkown direction, without asking any questions…try to blend in and act like a local, and get in a little bit of people watching. Just get off when you feel like it, or when most of the other people get off. Just make sure you know how much bus fare is and have exact change, or else everyone will still know you’re that lost tourist 🙂
Basically, try and get totally lost, and along the way, you will discover all sorts of treasures and surprises a lonely planet would have never predicted.