Over the last few years, my travels for conferences, workshops, projects, and personal have taken me cities in the US and aboard. Because I’m such a transportation nerd, it’s always fun to see how easy it is to navigate from my point of arrival (train station or airport) to my destination and around the city with only the knowledge of the address of where I’m staying. Below are some of my reflections navigating different cities.
Most Efficient Airport – Munich, Germany: In October 2018, I had an opportunity to travel to Salzburg, Austria for a seminar on building healthy and equitable communities. I flew in through Munich, then took a train to Salzburg. Munich airport is the most efficient airport I’ve ever travel to or through. Even going through customs was faster than using Global Entry when I returned to the US. I had no problems navigating from my gate, through customs, and to the train. Most importantly, there were no lines despite the high volume of people. Even the security lines moved so quick, I barely had time to get my shoes off.
Easiest Train Station to Navigate – Amsterdam Centraal, Netherlands: Amsterdam is known by people in the transportation industry for its biking culture and infrastructure as well as its public transportation. Biking is the one thing I didn’t do during my vacation, but I did ride the streetcars. All that aside I give Amsterdam credit for the easiest train station to navigate. Even without knowing the language, moving through the train station was intuitive for me. The using of icons, such as “i” for information removed the language barrier.
Easiest place to navigate from the airport to downtown – Minneapolis, Minnesota: Last year, I did a day trip Minneapolis for the Institute of Transportation Engineers conference. I flew into Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport and took the train to downtown to get to the conference hotel. Not only was it easy to navigate from my arrival gate to the train, but it was also close. There are a few other airports where it is easy to get to the train, but the train is a long distance from the airport, such as Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Getting a ticket was intuitive and it was a smooth ride into downtown Minneapolis.
Favorite City for Getting Lost – Tie between Antigua, Guatemala and Cali, Colombia: Antigua and Cali are my favorite for two completely different reasons. Antigua was great for getting lost, because it was easy to reset to get back on track. It’s a walkable City with a large volcano to the south, a volcano that erupts every twenty minutes or so to the west, and a large hillside with a cross on top to the north. Cali was great because of all the street art. We call it murals in the US, they call everything graffiti. I spent several hours getting lost while exploring the graffiti.
I haven’t taken count of the number of cities I’ve been to around the world. These are the ones that stand out in my mind for a transportation-related reason. What are some of the best cities you’ve been to that are easy to navigate?
Veronica O. Davis, PE is a transportation guru who uses her knowledge to spark progressive social change. As Co-owner and Principal of Nspiregreen, she is also responsible for the management of the major urban planning functions such as transportation planning, policy development, master planning, sustainability analysis, and long range planning. In July 2012, Veronica was recognized as a Champion of Change by the White House for her professional accomplishments and community advocacy, which includes co-founding Black Women Bike.