When we head to the mountains, we expect to see things from a new perspective by climbing, trekking, and hiking. In Austria’s Tyrol, Italy’s Dolomites and the Swiss Alps we arrived ready. From the Southern Apennines to New Zealand’s Great Walks, we strapped on our packs and hit the trails. What we never expected, was that some of our greatest ascents (and descents) would be in the world’s glittering cities.
After taking planes, trains and automobiles for hours to reach grand cities, our children are usually ready to run! Something we learned early on, traveling with kids (although it benefits adults too), is to go vertical, on foot whenever possible. Some of our favorite walkabouts and climbs are:
- Climbing the Statue Of Liberty stairs, looking over Ellis Island and knowing America is beautiful in its diversity.
- Walking over the Tower Bridge at night watching the lights dance off the stone walls of the Tower of London.
- Walking up the Eiffel Tower on our daughter’s 6th birthday, looking out at Paris with the lace-like overlay of the wrought iron lattice.
- Climbing the Bell Tower in Brugge, Belgium as the bell tolled and we literally stopped in our tracks as the vibration moved through us and seemingly for us.
- Getting face to face with the gargoyles of Notre Dame after climbing the South Tower’s narrow, harrowing, worn spirals.
- Winding through the streets of Wellington, into landscapes magical enough to be used twice in Peter Jackson’s Lord of The Rings Trilogy.
- Losing the “gift of gab” as we breathlessly summited Blarney Castle just in time to kiss the stone at dusk.
- Sunrise at the look out above Park Guell in Barcelona where nature illuminates Gaudi’s work like a technicolor light show.
This past week, my husband and I celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary. After a full day exploring Sydney’s parks, feasting in China Town, marveling at the Opera House and strolling through Darling Harbor, the kids suggested we walk across the Harbor Bridge at sunset.
As we climbed many flights of stairs and started out over the harbor, the sounds of rushing traffic and the rattle of the trains faded. The Opera House looked like a lotus flower, illuminated by the moonlight. The lush greenery of Queen Elizabeth park gave a softness to the stark modern sky scrapers that lined its boundary. The boats cast dancing shadows on the phosphorescent waves that gently lapped the shore. It was the kind of moment that commands a pause …
We could have searched for these fresh outlooks at home in our life before this journey. We could have climbed Seattle’s Columbia Tower steps, wound our way up Queen Anne Hill for sweeping views at Kerry Park, or biked across the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. We sincerely didn’t believe we had the time.
City climbs and crossings remind us to take the time to look with reverence, over our shoulder, at our family, our marriage, our careers, and our footprint on the globe. It is important to find new vantage points that literally inspire a backward glance.
By noticing how far we have come, we turn to the future with a renewed sense of faith in what is possible.
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