I moved to Southampton over 5 years ago. I’ve been here 2 years longer than I anticipated (and counting) after graduating university. While some people hate the idea of staying in their university town, I’ve got a lot more out of it since starting work, if only for having a car. Recently I have had the experience of being a tourist in my own city, something I would strongly recommend to anyone.
Finding New Experiences
I’m in something of a rut at the moment. Everything feels a bit stale. The same old routine repeats and I find myself thinking that cliché refrain:
I need a holiday.
Many of you will find yourself in a similar position now that the nights are drawing in after the clocks have gone back. Apparently, winter blues is a well-documented phenomenon that starts in November. I feel for you if you are suffering.
The good news is you don’t need to reach for Skyscanner. You can find new experiences on your doorstep that can breathe new life into familiar surroundings.
A few weeks ago it was my girlfriend’s birthday and her parents were visiting. This was the perfect chance to try something new.
The first thing we tried was an Escape Room. Now I’d read about these role-play type team-building games with scepticism in the past. It didn’t sound like it would be my cup of tea but this time I was up for giving it a go…
To my surprise, it was a lot of fun. The hour was a completely novel experience. I hadn’t been feeling 100% that morning but it soon made me forget my troubles. While I’m embarrassed to admit that we failed to escape (an eventuality I hadn’t even considered beforehand), I can safely say I would do another one in the future.
The second new experience was eating at a tiny, family-run Italian restaurant that I’d never noticed before down a back street somewhere. It was brought to my attention by a colleague after I asked him for recommendations. We had a lovely meal and my girlfriend’s parents rated the choice – always a relief.
It’s so easy to ask others for their recommendations and yet we seldom do it. Experiences that are part of someone else’s weekly routine (playing Ultimate Frisbee) could be on your doorstep and your next hobby or favourite place.
While special occasions are a great excuse to push the boat out and try something new, you should seek out novelty for its own sake. To keep things fresh.
Firing Up TripAdvisor
With the internet at our fingertips, we can never really say that we’re bored anymore. And yet we all do. We lack imagination.
I’m a huge fan of city breaks having visited Krakow, Budapest, Prague and Berlin in recent years. Before I go away, I research extensively what I want to do or see – it’s half of the fun. Like many modern-day travellers, TripAdvisor and travel blogs are my best friend for this.
We all seem to forget that TripAdvisor works for our own cities too.
My housemate has a knack for this kind of research. He only moved to Southampton a few months ago and already he’s visited places and cafes that I’ve never even heard of. It puts me to shame. This Sunday, I wanted to be a tourist in my own city so we went to the Southampton SeaCity Museum which I’d known about forever and never visited. It was a great way to spend a few hours. A really impressive place.
What does your city have to offer that you have never gotten around to?
Hosting Visiting Friends
A great way to look at your city and home with fresh eyes is to host someone else.
This coming weekend we have half a dozen friends making the trip down. A couple have never been to Southampton and most of them have only been on flying visits.
When playing the host, you feel like you have to do your home justice. You find yourself planning things you would never do with your local friends.
Not only is this a great way to catch up with people you haven’t seen in a long time, but it can also give you a newfound appreciation of your city through their eyes.
Better yet, reciprocal visits to their cities open the door to new experiences elsewhere. With so many friends living in London, and a couple up in Leeds, I’m embarrassed to spend quiet weekends on the South Coast.
It’s time I got out more or at least got more adventurous locally.