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Future Cities

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Singapore. November 2015.

Wanderings: Making friends on the Gaudi Trail

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As comforting and reassuring as it is to have a travel companion, there is nothing quite like the experience of fast friend-making that goes on between solo wanderers.  I made several friends while in Barcelona, the most memorable of which was Tim, a sweet, energetic Englishman about 20 years my senior.  Tim and I chatted a few times in the common room of our hostel, and decided it would be fun to see how many of Antoni Gaudi’s architectural landmarks we could cram into one day of sightseeing.

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We set off early one cloudy morning, grabbing coffee’s and getting to know each other better while taking in La Pedrera and Casa Batllo.  I learned that Tim had been down on his luck and was leaving England for good.  He was a passionate mountain climber, and planned to spend the foreseeable future working small jobs and climbing the Pyrenees.  We wandered, awestruck, through the nave of the Sagrada Familia and took an elevator to the top of one of the spires and marveled over the views of the city, then made the long, vertigo inducing walk down the spiral staircase of the spire, taking turns leaning over the edge and laughing because of the way the drop turned our knees to jelly.

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After a few hours clambering all over Park Guell, we warmed our frozen fingers and toes over coffee in a tiny old fashioned cafe, then beers in a hip new bar.  Tim told me stories about finding wine for €1.00 in some shop, so we decided to go in search of this mythical cheap wine and assemble Barcelona’s greatest cheapest dinner.  Our quest lead us to at least a dozen tiny neighborhood mercados, and though the cheapest wine we found was €2.50, we managed to pick up tomatoes, pasta, and fresh bread for less than €5.00.  Back at the hostel, we cooked up a storm, and served ourselves a huge amazing meal back in the common room, and others lingering in the room joined us, sharing wine and chocolate and stories.  It was one of the best nights I spent in Barcelona.

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Wanderings: Vintage charm in old Philadelphia

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Growing up in the wide-spread cities and suburbs of the south, I have a particular fascination with the dense old cities of the north.  I like the way the all the buildings are pushed up against one another, the way green spaces are purposefully carved out and preserved, the way the evidence of several centuries of living is all piled up on top of itself and crowded together on single blocks.

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We spent an afternoon meandering around the Old City district of Philadelphia, and though I enjoy the two- and three-hundred-year-old buildings, I couldn’t help but dwell on the sprinkles of 20th century architecture and advertising scattered throughout.  In any other context, these storefronts, signs, and details would seem retro and vintage but here, in old Philadelphia, they felt amazingly modern, despite their crumbling edges and peeling paint.

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Wanderings: A step back in time

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What is your favorite thing about old cities?  For me, it’s usually the houses and shops.  I love the old brickwork and wooden shutters, boot-scrapers and weird door knockers, and colorfully painted doors.

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Philly had a wealth of gorgeous old homes and buildings to swoon over.  As we walked around town, I couldn’t help but pause every few feet to admire an old building, and wonder how long it’s it been there, what did it look like on the inside, how many people have lived or worked there over the years, and what were their lives like.

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Elfreth's Alley is the oldest residential street in the country

Elfreth’s Alley is the oldest residential street in the country

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Hats trimmed free of charge!

Hats trimmed free of charge!

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Wanderings – Detroit

Michigan Central Station

Michigan Central Station

Detroit has always been a favorite city of mine.  Such a striking juxtaposition of splendor and decay.  I used to drive around for hours taking pictures and was glad to have a chance to wander around on this most recent trip.  So much is already changing.  These photos are a mixture of old and new.

Fox Theatre

Fox Theatre

Book Tower

Book Tower

Nature retaking architecture

Nature retaking architecture

Appliances, radios, watch repairs

Appliances, radios, watch repairs

Penobscot building

Penobscot building

Such a beauty

Such a beauty

Escapes

Escapes

Shuttered

Shuttered

Chained up shop

Chained up shop

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