It’s easy to get lost in a foreign country.
Unfamiliar signs, unknown people and indistinguishable landmarks are unavoidable because you’re navigating through uncharted territory. When you first walk the streets of Perpignan, it can be overwhelming because every inch of the city is a constant reminder that you are officially not in Kansas anymore – or, in my case, Tennessee.
Where I live, the roads are wide and spacious, the land meets the horizon from every angle and the locals lead simple lives at a slow pace. I live in a very rural area. It’s cow country.
In Perpignan, I walk out the front door of my hotel and I am immediately immersed in the hustle and bustle of city living.
I become confused easily as I stroll around the city. How can you navigate through alleyways that connect to other alleyways and eventually lead to yet more alleyways?
I have never seen so many alleyway connections until now.
Perpignan is an intricate web. The streets of the city branch off and reconnect somewhere else along the way like a spider’s web. It’s almost too easy to get lost. Throughout my journeys, I just want to burst into the song “Somewhere” from West Side Story.
In every web, there is a center, a distinct hub that directs the parts of the web. I don’t feel quite as lost when I find the central core of the vielle ville, or old city. Even though it’s still easy to mistake one fountain for another, I can always make it back to the heart of the city.
Also, many of the city’s locals have said that all routes lead to Perpignan. Ironically, the cultural heritages intertwine and flow as these alleyways do. On one corner you’ll find yourself on the steps of a Catholic Church and on another, a Catalonian restaurant or a French patisserie. Even though there’s an obvious distinction between cultures, they are all connected by the routes.
Surrounded by architecture that is centuries old and local shops around every corner, I am starting not to care if I lose track of where I am. I’ll just follow one of the many cobblestone alleyways, knowing it will eventually lead me somewhere.