Citiescape Guides

The movers are downstairs, gradually emptying our house, and we can finally begin to emerge from the task-oriented tunnel vision that has been a necessary part of the past fortnight. As more and more people asked me whether I was excited about the trip that will fill our next two months, I’ve generally had to answer that I was trying not to think about it other than logistically. There was too much to do to allow such distractions.

Now that the house is nearly empty we can begin to anticipate it without reservation.

When I have been excited, it’s largely been thanks to the Lonely Planet citiescape guides, a series of portraits of cities that can be easily read in half an hour or so.

By trying to communicate the mood, rhythm and pace of cities rather than cram in every details of every museum, they build anticipation without being overwhelming, and hopefully give some sense of how to ‘be’ in those cities rather than how to ‘see’ them. The portraits probably aren’t sufficiently nuanced, and caricature their subjects, but in 100 short pages there’s not much else that can be done, and for me they’ve been a great way to prepare.

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