When traveling, I often wonder what motivates people to leave their homes and discover new places. There must be an aspect of novelty, of discovering for the sake of discovering, but that can’t be all, can it? Might traveling give us an opportunity to learn something about ourselves, the way a good book, a profound song or a beautiful movie does? And if that is the case, how do you go about it?
Back when I started solo traveling, I used to seek out lists of “The Top Ten Most Beautiful Things To Do,” both online and offline, but since then I’ve learned to appreciate a more inquisitive way of discovering a new place. It’s not about finding the answers—it’s about asking the right questions.
That’s how the idea for What’s Life Like came to be: what are my favorite questions to ponder when an unfamiliar place invites me into its most colorful, historical and hidden spots? These questions allow me to pause and dig a little bit deeper into what it means to discover. They allow me to transform from a tourist into a traveler, to take a kind of mental stroll through each city, and I hope they have a similar effect on you.
(Please go to kobevanreppelen.be/het-leven-in for the Dutch translation.)
What’s Life Like in Hamburg
I consider myself lucky to have spent one year in Hamburg, working as a volunteer against the backdrop of Altona. Those twelve months allowed me to learn German, and to discover what it means to embrace one of Europe’s most romantic cities in my heart. I return every few months to the city on the Elbe, and I sincerely hope that your experience will be similar to mine—or even better.
What’s Life Like in Porto
Porto holds a special place in my heart. I spent several consecutive weeks at Nuno’s place, discovered its wine caves with Alessandra and took a break here on my first pilgrimage to Santiago. Finally, it’s easy to fall in love with tripas à moda do Porto and a good Vinho do Porto.
What’s Life Like in Lisbon
I often retreat to Lisbon to connect with its rich historical and cultural heritage. I wonder how, centuries ago, the first Portuguese explorers gazed out at the Atlantic, preparing for their heroic journeys to the shores on the other side of the sea. I can still feel their presence in the Praça do Comércio, and in Portugal’s many naval strongholds and lighthouses.
Future travel guides will include Ljubljana, Antwerp, Vancouver, Berlin, Vienna and the Camino de Santiago.