One of the things that I rate pretty highly on my priority list is living in a place that is walkable or bikeable. It's so healthy to have light exercise built into your lifestyle. I grew up in the suburbs, so we drove everywhere. I don't specifically remember disliking it at the time, but there was no other choice - it was part of our way of life. Going to college changed my perspective on that in a hurry. I decided to go college in the small urban town of Charleston, SC - and I didn't bring a car. I remember going on exploratory runs my freshman year with my roommate. We ran all over downtown, getting lost on among the curving cobblestone lanes only to pop out in a new location. I loved walking to the grocery store, to go out to eat, to meet up with friends. It was liberating not having to worry about parking or how to get home after a night out on the town. When I went home for the holidays, I took the Amtrak train from Charleston, SC, to Richmond, VA, where my parents picked me up. It was always crowded and running late, but I loved it. I could sit and stare out of the window or read a book, instead of paying attention to traffic.
My love affair with walkable cities solidified when I moved to Italy to study abroad my third year of college. My flat was located behind the historic center and the famous Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral, so there was a whole new world for me to explore just a step outside my door. I walked all over Florence: I went to the local market every other day for fresh cheese, bread, and fruit; I walked to the other side of town to my classes every single day; I walked to Piazzale Michelangelo to catch the sunset; I walked to the various museums and churches for art history; and I backpacked through Southern Italy. I did a lot of walking, some of it by choice and some by necessity, either way it was stimulating and fun.
On the few occasions where I've lived in situations that forced me to drive in order to run my errands, I found myself becoming lazy and irritable. I got tired just driving to a store, and somehow I always, always, felt like I was in a hurry. In the afternoons or early evenings after work nowadays, Brian and I always try to go for a good long walk (we'll see how long that lasts now that the cold weather is here!). We usually wander over to Forsyth Park and then cruise to the Savannah River. Or if we have time before the sun sets, we will drive out to one of the state parks and walk a trail or two. We usually end up walking at least three miles. On days that one of us doesn't feel like walking, we opt to ride our bikes. Regardless, we almost always walk or bike to the grocery store, coffee shops, bars, and restaurants here in Savannah. It's one of our favorite rituals and regardless of whether or not I've squeezed in a workout or Brian has worked up a sweat while working on our boat that day, we are guaranteed to stretch our legs and get a little bit of fresh air.
Where do you like to walk?