Visiting a new city for the first time is probably one of the best feelings in the world. From booking your flights and hotels to creating an itinerary- the excitement builds up. But nothing defeats the conquered feeling when you finally step out to this brand new city and you breathe it all in and you begin to think life couldn’t get any better than this. You roam all over the city, snapping pictures here and there, bumping elbows with tourists in front of monuments, and trying to make yourself promise that you’ll somehow remember it all. You leave the city with nothing more than how you experienced it and how you witnessed it. Besides, you have your pictures as proof and for recollections.
However, exploring a new city could become quite intimidating, especially when it’s surrounded with massive amounts of people- tourists and locals- everywhere. And unfortunately, that’s the image we carry forever more; the overcrowded streets of Venice, the populous island of Honolulu, China’s most congested city- Beijing. You get the point, right?
But what if I told you you could have the city almost completely for yourself? A nice, quiet stroll through the empty streets of Chicago or Montreal or Stockholm or Munich or Sydney or Barcelona or anywhere. Of course you’ll probably see a few cars or buses here and there, and a couple of people every once in a while, but you’ll feel like you have the city to yourself. And that’s the best part. I mean it.
So what’s the secret to having the attention of the city for yourself? Easy.
Be out on the streets by the crack of dawn.
Yes, that means you’ll have to wake up super early and sacrifice your full 8 hours of sleep (who even manages to get 8 hours of sleep when you’re traveling anyways) or being able to sleep in. But you gotta do it. Like now. Or more like tomorrow morning.
On my last trip to London, I was determined to get an amazing snap of Big Ben and I. The only obvious problem were the people. I needed to somehow sneak out when everyone else were still sleeping. So, I woke up around 4:30 in the morning and was out of the hotel a little after 5 AM.
I was in complete awe of London. I was shocked of its emptiness. I paid attention to every detail of every building in every corner.I felt delighted by its quietness. I felt as if I was truly seeing London the way it was meant to be seen for the first time ever. I felt as if the city was allowing me to take a glimpse of everything I’ve missed of noticing because I was too tired to pause and appreciate, or I was walking fast away from all it’s busy streets. I was in love.
I never believed it possible to be able to stand in front of London’s most famous and crowded landmarks, and be alone. Literally alone.
And even though I only had the city for about an hour and a half to myself, they were the best minutes I’ve ever experienced in London.
- If you plan on having a mini photo shoot, then make the extra time in having to get ready even earlier
- Research ahead of time the amount of time it will take you to get to your particular destination, and take into account if you’re walking, driving, etc
- Try to leave your hotel before the sun actually rises
- Explore early morning of a weekend (locals and tourists might sleep in for a little while longer) as opposed to a weekday where locals will wake up early for work
- Go to bed early the night before
Remember, the earlier you can manage to get out then the more time you’ll have the city for yourself.
Have you ever woken up in the crack of dawn to explore a new place?