(City) Life in the Details: From Street Art to Road Signs

“Cities were always like people, showing their varying personalities to the traveler. Depending on the city and on the traveler, there might begin a mutual love, or dislike, friendship, or enmity. Where one city will rise a certain individual to glory, it will destroy another who is not suited to its personality. Only through travel can we know where we belong or not, where we are loved and where we are rejected.”

Roman Payne (Cities & Countries)

City life
Two-faced Porto

Cities are inevitably the most important part of every journey. It doesn’t matter, if you, Dear Reader, or me love to explore nature more, but we couldn’t go any further without crossing and stopping at a town or city once in a while. Cities and towns are the sources that gives us new information about other cultures, their beliefs, their traditions, their food. Cities and towns are the place where we make our new intercultural friendships, meet new people, discuss about new things, receive new approaches. And it’s not famous landmarks or sites, that are important. It’s the city life that we have to search and connect with.

I believe that life is in the details and the way how we see them. The same applies to city life – we can’t make connection with the city only through its points of interest. I believe that we have to find it in the details.

When talking about details, I have in mind the things in which we find inspiration, interest, laugh or charm. Those details that conquers us can be everywhere and every type – a tiny Portuguese tile on the random house, a small charming flower shop in France, beautifully baked German gingerbread or interesting thought written on the billboard of restaurant in Italy. Anything that we find unexpectedly and stop to admire during our journeys is the detail, through which we’re discovering city life – connecting with it.

Not so long ago I started to capture the details, that I found important and expressive – revealing city’s face and life. Today I want to share some of them – street art, road signs, decorations – with you, Dear Reader. By doing this I want to remind you that (city) life is in the details and we just need to see them. 

Some of my beloved details found in…

… Kaunas, Lithuania

As I see it, Kaunas speaks through its street art. And I find those speeches more than intriguing – they are expressive pieces of art available to for every passer-by.

City life
There is Manneken Pis, the famous boy from Brussels, peeing on the corner of main square in Kaunas
City life
There are abandoned houses in the old town of Kaunas, but their are decorated in a proper way
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Some of the residents in Kaunas loves to collect art not only inside their home

… Durbuy, Belgium

Durbuy conquers by its charming atmosphere, which a bit reminds of the stories written about Medieval times. And, in my opinion, this atmosphere is created through city’s decorations. Seems like each of them tells a part of this city’s story.

city life
This is the saddest thing, I have ever seen. Friendly looking piggy is watching over the window of butcher’s shop!
City life
Even such a small detail like mailbox shows you a part of city’s story

… Porto, Portugal

It is a public secret that I am babbling  about my love for Porto too much. So this time I will be short. Porto has a lot of unique details, which tells the stories of the city. One of them is azulejo1Portuguese tiles, which decorates everything there.

City life
You can find various types of azulejo in the city or Porto, but the classical ones are these – coloured in white and blue
City life
It doesn’t matter if it is a house or a church – azulejo decorates everything in Porto
City life
Azulejo tiles are tools to tell a story in Porto

… Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium

Louvain-la-Neuve is a young city, built only in 1970s with the aim to host Université catholique de Louvain. So this city’s life reflects its audience – young and wild people. I discovered this town through its colorful and creative details – street art and nutty road signs. 

city life
Even improved road signs speaks about the residents of the city
City life
Everyone has its own creative way to express themselves at Louvain-la-Neuve
City life
This city is painted in street art and each of the paintings tells a different story
City life
All the stories reflects the life of students – some of them are dynamic and colorful, and some are lonely

… Paris, France

Paris is probably one of the most expressive cities that we can find in Europe, or maybe even further. Its uniqueness is speaking through each and every detail that we can find in the city – from street signs to shop windows.

City life
Expressive, that’s what Paris is – even pedestrians have wings here
City life
Not to mention wolves!
City life
Every part of Paris has to surpass others in original way
City life
Even the street walls in Paris looks like an exhibition

So these are some of the details that I succeeded in finding during my journeys. I would like to hear, which of them do you find the most intriguing, Dear Reader. Waiting for you in comments!

Yours, L. 

  1. Azulejo
    Azulejo – is a form of Spanish and Portuguese painted tin-glazed ceramic tilework. Azulejos are found on the interior and exterior of churches, palaces, ordinary houses, schools, and nowadays, restaurants, bars and even railways or subway stations. They were not only used as an ornamental art form, but also had a specific functional capacity like temperature control in homes. Via wikipedia.com