In Defense of Dull Places

I have a complicated relationship with dull places. I’m always seeking places full of activity, always drawn to places where I hear the continuous rumble of human voices. Even if it’s a quiet place, I’ll look for somewhere where the walls are painted with colourful murals. I need something out of the ordinary that demands my full attention. Too often, I have a tendency to look for superlatives. Places where hashtag counts go through the roof and where I know I’ll get the sensory satisfaction I’m craving. The photographer in me wants to score that picture-perfect street shot. Meanwhile, the search engine sensitive blogger in me greedily absorbs the bustling scenes, so I can collect the best travel tips.

A woman tends her garden in the outskirts of Zadar

A yellow wall and blue window frame, both in a relatively unkempt state.

The Loudest Spectrum

When I spend too much time in ‘dull’ places, my mind enters a state of emergency and panic. You see, I’m that kind of person: I like the loudest spectrum of colours. I wear pinks, purples, reds, and yellows whenever I can. I need my regular dose of busy places, urban ambiances where there’s always something going on. Sometimes, I go through phases where my mind skips ahead too fast for my own good, and a dull place would quickly deprive my senses of the stimuli they seek every second of the day.

A dull place deprives my senses of the stimuli they seek every second of the day. At one point, however, chaos becomes meaningless.

At one point, however, chaos becomes meaningless. When I’m racing through the streets, shifting my eyes through the crowd without seeing anything at all, it’s time to dial it down. I become unable to filter the meaningful things that inspire me to think differently. I leave the city behind, hop on my bicycle and head into whatever direction looks unfamiliar. Dull places are exactly what I need to balance my stream of consciousness, to bring things back to baseline.

+  Visiting Colmar and the Alsace Province

In defense of dull places: a black cat with striking eyes looks into the camera as it relaxes on the pavement.

In defense of dull places: a little orange bird sits in its cage in a window.

Switching Scales: Details or Spectacles

So, back to dull places: it’s really just a question of detail and spectacle, a question of observation and entertainment. Busy places force me to filter, while dull places make me forage for details I wouldn’t normally notice. Dull places force me to switch scales. Sure, this unique gem of a hidden hotspot might be a must-see, but the sun can create the most mesmerizing shadow in the most random little town you can think of. If you’re not careful, TripAdvisor can create the most monotonous tunnel vision.

If you’re not careful, TripAdvisor can create the most monotonous tunnel vision. It would be a shame if you didn’t notice the little bird in its cage, staring at the freedom of the open air, and the dancing bed sheets that dangle from a washing line.

There’s enough to discover in the little details: the tiny patch of grass resisting the concrete pavement or an overweight dog peeking at you from behind the curtain. It would be a shame if you didn’t notice the little bird in its cage, staring at the freedom of the open air, and the dancing bed sheets that dangle from a washing line. What about the pure and simple joy of encountering a fuzzy cat with the most hypnotizing eyes, persuading you to gently pet her back? Even in winter, my most dreaded season, there are tufts of smoke escaping a tiny chimney, or a crooked window frame bent into an impossible shape.

In defense of dull places: don't ignor the little details, like an elaborate collection of flower pots next to an anonymous doorway.

An old horse carrier stands in the middle of a quiet field.

Don’t Forget to Recharge

Why should every place have to be stunning, magical, picturesque, charming, bla-di-bla? God forbid it’s not an all-round feast for the eyes. A delicate little summer palace wouldn’t look so refined without the minimalist concrete houses on the messy edge of town. A day at the beach wouldn’t mean a thing without the mind-numbing hours we spend behind our desks. Yes, some places really are just…a bit boring. Still, most of the time, when you call a place dull, it says more about the power of your imagination. Once in a while, don’t forget to recharge.

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