Public places I love to visit:
1. Tourist traps. I always feel that if people go there over and over again, there must be something I should see at least once. Even if I don't enjoy the item of interest or geological location, it's fun to watch the visitors. Sometimes I talk with them, find out where they're from and why they came. And I like to see which souvenirs they buy.
2. Cathedrals. I'm a sucker for stained glass and carved wood. When I visit I can't stop thinking about the history of the building, how it was constructed without modern means, and how that construction probably required many years. And every cathedral has heaps of irresistible stories and legends. If the option is available, I always light a candle for my aunt because it makes her happy.
3. Ghost towns. I'm not talking about ones the historical society has saved, so there are restored buildings and tiny museums and guided tours. I'm talking about the towns that have been abandoned and remain in that state. There is nothing, really, to see or do, but I like thinking about how this used to be a place with people and stores and life. I wonder how the last residents felt about living there and I wonder how long the empty buildings will stand.
4. Museums. All kinds. I don't mind going with other people, but only if they allow me to ignore them. I don't want to wonder if they're being entertained or if we're staying too long. Going to museums is all about me. If I'm with someone who feels the same way, I'm fine if we discuss exhibits or share points of interest. And I definitely want to compare notes on the way home. But if you have a short attention span or constantly need conversation or are uncomfortable with silence or solitude--don't go to a museum with me.
5. Book stores. I try not to go to these places unless I have a huge block of time. And I turn my phone off or leave it in the car. Usually I purchase only a couple of books but it might take me four hours to decide which ones I want. When no one's looking, I escape to the children's section to discover new stories and illustrations that are clever, or colorful, or humorous, or beautiful--or any combination of those--but always delightful.
6. Tiny city parks forgotten by nearly everyone. There is one about two miles from my home. When I could still run it was my midway point. Two corners of the park are outlined in large, flat rocks, about two feet in height. Sometimes I would take a break from running, sit on the sun-warmed rocks and enjoy the trees, green grass, light breeze, and solitude. Occasionally a few children would be playing on the playground far enough away that I was not disturbed, but near enough for me to hear the sounds of their voices.
7. Libraries. For as long as I can remember, a library has been my favorite place. The year after my cousin raped me, the school library became my safe haven. I couldn't manage the social structure of junior high and I seemed to have lost my ability to make friends. I stopped eating after the first two weeks of the school year and spent my lunch hours reading in a corner of the library. After about three weeks, the librarian noticed I'd taken up residence there and that I was becoming increasingly thin. She would come talk to me, ask if there was anything I needed. Eventually I became too ill to go to school. Part of what gave me reason to start eating again was knowing there were still books to read (which sounds silly, I know, but we all have our reasons for living). A couple of months later, when I returned to school, that librarian was waiting for me. She said she missed me and gave me a hug. I remember wondering why she would do that. She also gave me permission to eat lunch in the library if I didn't tell anyone.
8. Court houses and capitol buildings. I love the architecture and history and the way voices echo in the main hall. Most have large marble staircases and alcoves with wood carved edges which have a name I do not know. I love looking around, reading about the buildings, and for reasons that escape me, I'm always very glad to leave. I think it might be because of the persistent dimness inside.
9. Amusement parks. I'm a roller coaster girl. And I love the cheesy haunted house rides. And even though I never buy them, there's something wonderful about corn dogs, and cotton candy, and funnel cakes. I avoid the water rides and adore the spinny ones. I don't leave without riding the merry-go-round and the ferris wheel because they remind me of when my dad used to take me on them as a child.
10. Farmers Markets. Part of my interest in these stems from the fact that they are not permanent structures, they're outside, and most of the people who come look very happy to be there. Perpetual purchases include mushrooms, homemade salsa (with way too much garlic), peaches, squash, and fresh pastries from the Austrian baker.