On the first day of our Urban History class the students were asked a simple question about some differences between European cities and the city of Kelowna. Even though we’ve had several newer class discussions since this topic was brought up I could not help but feel as though there was still more to say on this subject.
Many good points were mentioned during this discussion such as different means of inter-city transportation,
(Venice, Italy 2012)
(Villach, Austria 2012)
(Rome, Italy 2012)
Food… (especially the manner of preparing said food),
(Paros, Greece 2012)
and of course the general ambiance.
(Paris, France 2012)
Probably one of the most prominent differences I noticed when visiting European cities was that even though like all towns and cities they too can get congested by road traffic, there is still almost always a large portion of the city specifically for pedestrians. Even though most of these cities are generally much more heavily populated than your average Canadian city, anytime I was in an area that was reserved solely for people and not vehicles the vibe of the whole city felt more relaxed. In contrast to the normal hustle bustle feel you get when visiting a large city. Of course this still cannot be attributed to all cities in Europe but many of the ones I have been through during my travels have not disappointed in this respect.
A more specific example of pedestrian streets was in Ljubljana, Slovenia. The streets they set aside for pedestrian use were massive and could undoubtedly be enough space to allow people as well as road traffic and yet they were not used in that way.
(Ljubljana, Slovenia 2012)
Even though the streets do not appear busy and overcrowded they certainly could if the pedestrians were pushed to sidewalks. Then all the middle space could be used for vehicles like in so many Canadian cities. However by doing that you are discouraging exercise as well as taking away from the whole ambience of the city.
There were many things about European cities I fell in love with during my travels but still to this day the thing that stands out the most is the fact that you can be in a large overpopulated city such as London, Paris or Ljubljana and without even having to leave you can also get a relaxed small town vibe simply by heading away from the motor ways. I feel like all cities should incorporate this feature.