- Look for ghosts and ruins
- Get there the hard way
- Eat somewhere dubious
- Read the plaque
- Follow the quiet
If you want to maintain or revive your sense of really attending to city environments, a good starting point is to give yourself simple criteria: what’s going on here that nobody particularly wants me to notice? What has no campaign behind it to seize my attention?
This could mean noticing a charming architectural detail that is not flashy enough to be in a guidebook, having a spontaneous conversation with a friendly stranger or just attending to something as elemental as the sound or smell of a place.
This openness is easier when we’re in tourist mode. When visiting a new place we pay attention to everything, it seems. The ecologist Liam Heneghan invented a word for this mindset: allokataplixis, combining the Greek allo, meaning “other,” and katapliktiko, meaning “wonder.” But it is possible to recapture a bit of allokataplixis now and then even in your home city, if you make an effort to break and vary your routines.