SE­CRET CITY HAVENS Find peace and sanc­tu­ary in un­ex­pected places.

Find bliss amid the chaos by fol­low­ing the lo­cals and search­ing out peace within the me­trop­o­lis

In the Moment - - Contents - Words: Roshina Jowaheer

T here’s no deny­ing that life in the city can be de­mand­ing. From overly crowded streets to the hec­tic pace in­grained in cap­i­tals all over the world, es­cap­ing the stress, pol­lu­tion and tra c is on the ma­jor­ity of city dwellers’ minds. Cov­er­ing only three per cent of the planet’s sur­face, ci­ties are home to more than half of the world’s pop­u­la­tion – a statis­tic alone that can make you feel claus­tro­pho­bic. For­tu­nately, ev­ery city has a place where you can trans­port your­self from the buzzing me­trop­o­lis to a peace­ful haven. One thing that the peo­ple who live in big towns of­ten have in com­mon is their love of dis­cov­er­ing new peace­ful spa­ces.

With re­searchers nd­ing that na­ture not only helps us to re­lax, but also helps im­prove our mem­ory and in­crease our at­ten­tion span, city dwellers are tap­ping into the power of head­ing out­doors. They are nd­ing that they can boost their men­tal health and reap the bene ts of be­ing out­side just like those liv­ing in ru­ral ar­eas by head­ing to the lush city parks, forests and gar­dens, as well as se­cret cor­ners amid the chaos that o er those few mo­ments of much-needed tran­quil­lity.

For many ur­ban­ites, it’s not just where you spend your time that counts, but what you do with it that can make a huge di er­ence. In Sin­ga­pore, lo­cals like to head to the parks and gar­dens to prac­tice tai chi, build­ing their in­ner core strength while fos­ter­ing a healthy mind in serene and over­looked set­tings such as Telok Blan­gah Hill Park. For the Ja­panese, the nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment is so bene cial that doc­tors pre­scribe the prac­tice of shin­rin-yoku (for­est bathing), to stressed or de­pressed pa­tients. Even vis­i­tors to ci­ties like Tokyo (one of the busiest in the world) can ex­pe­ri­ence this heal­ing ther­apy in tran­quil re­treats like Arisug­awa-no-miya Me­mo­rial Park.

Mov­ing to­wards the west, be­ing ac­tive out­doors is an es­sen­tial way of de-stress­ing in the city. In

LA, An­ge­lenos escape the buzz with their strong work/life bal­ance that takes them to the mul­ti­tude of neigh­bour­hoods that o er var­ied land­scapes, from canyons to coasts. They make the most of their sur­round­ings by hik­ing, stand-up pad­dle­board­ing and med­i­tat­ing in places only on the lo­cals’ radar, in­clud­ing Ma­rina del Rey, the Bal­lona Wet­lands and the Ky­oto Gar­den at Dou­bleTree by Hilton Ho­tel Los An­ge­les Down­town.

For Lon­don­ers, es­cap­ing the hub­bub of the city can be as sim­ple as in­dulging in a pub lunch along the canal or re­lax­ing with a stroll in undis­cov­ered, pic­turesque parks such as Ky­oto Gar­den in Hol­land Park. Mean­while, Parisians are un­likely to be found queu­ing with the crowds to visit the Ei el Tower to get their out­door x and in­stead love to stroll, or ‘ âner à Paris’, am­bling along the banks of the Seine or en­joy­ing lit­tle-known parks such as the beau­ti­ful Parc des Buttes-Chau­mont (pic­tured left).

Truly nd­ing peace in the city is about avoid­ing the crowds and dis­cov­er­ing the se­cret cor­ners you don’t have to share with the hordes. While many nat­u­ral spa­ces o er respite from the chaos, it’s al­ways the ones favoured by the peo­ple who know their city that re­ally al­low you to escape and in­dulge in the qui­eter side. See­ing a city through the eyes of its res­i­dents is vi­tal to any mind­ful trav­eller who wishes to get un­der the skin of a place – it al­lows you to ex­pe­ri­ence a di er­ent per­spec­tive on the city and its peo­ple. With a lit­tle re­search be­fore a trip, any trav­eller can dis­cover the lo­cals' favourite places and get to ex­pe­ri­ence these hid­den sanctuaries – they are usu­ally free and eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble. Thanks to the in­ter­net, there is an ever-grow­ing wealth of re­sources avail­able to help trav­ellers to delve into the hid­den gems of any given city they might come across on their jour­ney. Airbnb’s Ex­pe­ri­ences, for ex­am­ple, are tours led by na­tives that pro­vide you with the chance to get a closer look at na­ture and try o beat ac­tiv­i­ties. You could nd your­self out ex­plor­ing a for­est in Ore­gon’s largest city, Port­land, or hik­ing in Barcelona’s na­ture spots with those who live and breathe the air. Spot­ted by Lo­cals, too, is an ex­cel­lent source and app for in­sider in­for­ma­tion on the se­cret havens where ur­ban­ites spend their spare time, whether it’s calm places to re­lax or sooth­ing spots to en­joy a co ee. And for a real taste of cul­ture in ci­ties from Is­tan­bul to Rio de Janeiro, the Like A Lo­cal Guide app can be down­loaded to your phone for tips and book­able tours that show the al­ter­na­tive, lesser-known sides of your hol­i­day des­ti­na­tion. Read on for some of our favourite lo­cal tips from around the world.

“Ev­ery city has a place where you can find a peace­ful haven"

Wave Hill's lush green

space of­fers quiet

tran­quil­lity in the

mid­dle of the bustling

streets of New York.

Sit awhile in the

se­cluded ru­ins of

London's St Dun­stan

in the East

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