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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

A Traveler's Sanctuary: Finding Tranquility at the Park

I find in my quiet times, when I'm focused on calm thoughts and halcyon memories, I think of my times at the park. Wherever I go on my travels I find myself at a park. It's the perfect place to stop and watch the world go by. I take a picnic from a local market or pick up a bite from a nearby food cart and enjoy my surroundings. It seems to be the best way to judge the city. You can see what types of sculptures and fountains they chose to include in this common area to reflect their community. You can see what they chose to preserve. You can see families, couples, and friends stopping to enjoy life.

Lying on my jacket with my scarf as a pillow I can look up at the crisp blue sky and focus on the serenity. The sounds of children playing, kites flying, and bocce balls clacking seem to fade in with the breeze rustling the branches of the surrounding trees. Birds flock and butterflies flutter by. Dogs walk briskly and joggers rhythmically move down the paths.

I'm planning my next getaway, and the first day I've planned is the day at the park. 

This world is full of amazing parks. I've seen many of them. I have so many more to see. These are five memorable parks I've enjoyed on my travels. 

Boboli Gardens | Florence, Italy
This is not your typical community park. You are charged a fee to enjoy these palatial gardens that were originally laid out for the Medici in 1550. It was worth the € 7,00. You could spend all day here enjoying the art, landscape, and tourist-watching. The cypress-lined walkways frame delicately curved statues in the Viottolone. The orangery was an interesting find; I wish we were allowed in.
For more information check out the official website

Central Park | New York, United States
It was a sweltering day so we sought refuge in the park. It seemed to be at least 10 degrees cooler surrounded by the well-established trees. We stopped at a park bench and watched the the artists draw, the runners run, and the street performers perform. We walked and found a hill to rest on. It was crowded, but nice. For what seemed like hours, we watched people skate around in a makeshift skating rink. We saw people with giant pig tails and a man in parachute pants made up of what looked like pink, blue, and white towels. The skaters wore leg warmers, gold chains, and togas. It was hard to pull ourselves away. 

Parc des Arènes | Cimiez, France
I wrote about this park in detail in my post recounting my trip to the Côte d'Azur. We took the bus up to see the Matisse Museum and ended up spending a good deal of the day enjoying the park. We had a small picnic, sat in the sun, walked about, and laid under the olive trees. I enjoyed the buzz of activity. The monastic garden, the olive grove, the archaeological site were just a nice bonus, but the most memorable moments were ones focused on being.

Parc de la Ciutadella | Barcelona, Spain
On this hot summer day, we found ourselves at the park. We spent the afternoon slowly walking through the park and stopping frequently. We walked up to the top level of the imposing fountain, the ornamental cascade. We found cool spot in the shade of the fountain and sat for a long while. We saw modern sculptures and even a giant mammoth. We laid under the tall trees and watched the parrots flying in and out of their giant nest. We watched school children play and rested a while.

Planty Park | Kraków, Poland
This park was full of small fountains and modern and time-worn bronze sculptures. It was surrounded by churches, university buildings, and other structures. We walked the three miles around the park, stopping to sit on a bench and pausing to eat sweet, fresh strawberries. 

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