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What’s your favorite part about visiting a new place — the food? The architecture? The people watching?

I love to visit new places; traveling is just about my favorite thing to do. Always has been.

I like soaking in everything that’s different, and my favorite mode of transportation is walking. By going through a new destination on foot, I get a feel for everything that way — the people, the ambiance of the town, the tempo, the smells, the character of the place . Walking enables you to see the architecture of all kinds of buildings — the sightseeing spots, and the streets where people live.

I have a map with me because I know I will get lost walking, but that’s okay. Getting lost just means there’s more to see, places that were not on my original route. And it’s always such a good feeling to get back on track! It’s also an opportunity to talk to go up to strangers to ask for help — hopefully they’re locals, not other tourists also lost. I’ve encountered both.

When we visited Madrid last October, I had great fun just walking around. Though I went with my husband, I had to spend one day sightseeing on my own because he had another activity to do. I was sitting in a park watching people and eating some churros and having a smoke (sorry anti-smokers). A strange street-person type man sat down next to me — he was not intimidating — just started chatting, which was difficult since my Spanish isn’t that great. I had eaten about half of my churros, and offered him the rest. Then when I pulled out a cigarette, I offered him one. He was grateful, and we continue talking. Then I got up to go to the nearby market, and asked him if he’d like another smoke for later — he did — and I went on my way. It was kind of surreal, but an interesting experience, and a great market and park. After that is when I got lost, but in a great shopping area, so I made the most of it and went into some interesting shops picking up a few souvenirs for family. Then with help from some German tourists, I found my way back to the train station, ready to get off my weary feet.

Madrid is a great city — I never felt unsafe — but I do take precautions. There are many more places I’d like to see and get lost in.