On a bus up to the D-Day Beaches in Normandy, I met a group of fellow Canadian travellers who were touring Europe for anything from 2 to 6 months. They'd all come up to Caen for the November 11th ceremonies, and none stayed in the city for more than a single night before heading off to the next stop on their list - mostly Paris.
When they asked me how long I was in Caen for, I told them I was staying 4 nights - which brought a round of gasps and a few "what's there to see here for that long"s. So it got me thinking: how long is too long in a city? And how short is too short?
Personally, I love the feeling of getting to know a place - going from being hopelessly lost every time I leave the hotel to getting into the rhythmm of finding the best places to pick up food, to have a drink, to learn the history. When I get the feeling of being right at home, that's when I know I've really seen the place I've been visiting.
So I don't quite get the mad dash from one city to the next. Is it the open rail pass that makes people get up and move so often? Is it the fear of boredom from staying too long in one place? Is it trying to cram everything possible in to a set schedule? Or wanting to see only the highlights of each place?
What makes people stay, and what sends them packing?
Difficult question to answer. Many many factors go into the decision. How many museums, sights, and interesting locations are in the city? How the city is laid out (is it narrow streets with interesting sights around every corner, or cookie cutter houses in a grid pattern)? What is the history and significance of the place? But you're right that it takes some time before you can get a feel for the place. There are quite a few cities that I wish I had spent more time in.
Hmmmm.....It depends on what is in the city. I would say, for myself, between 4 days to 1 week in a major city like Paris, London or Madrid. But for a smaller town, 2 days is enough. One day is much too short for any place with more than 1,000 people.
My rhythm seems to be to get lost (which I consider a lot of fun btw ) on the first day. The second day, is for major sights and museums of opporotunity. Third day is to catch whatever I missed on the third day. Fourth day is to stop being a tourist and to get a real feel for the place by going to the local hangouts. Depending on the size/history/significance of the city, the stuff in days 2 to 4 get stretched out over more than one day.
I noticed that it took me a while to define this rhythm for myself. I think the level of experience comes into play.
Hmmm....then other times, you go to the beer hall on the first day and completely loose track of days 0.5 to 7 !!!
You know you are ready to leave a city when the anticipation of your next destination is stronger than your love of your current city.
I tend to spend less time in places which have been "loved to death" by tourists...either too much have been written about them in travel journals (over-kill!!), or they are too "pricey"...
theres no right or wrong, obviously. i dream of travelling for looong periods of time, but you do what works for you. there is a neverending amount of things to see, anywhere you go. its all about what feels right. i just go by what my heart tells me. it felt right to stay in boston for like a week and a few, so i did. bar harbor was beautiful, but i stayed for a night, a full day and the next morning. i obviously didnt see everything, not even close. but i felt so fufilled with all i had done in one day (long story, climbed two mountains) that i felt it was time to leave. i just always listen to what im trying to tell myself. if you get a feeling, listen.
nice post tina ^^
James` answer pretty much sums it up for me, with the exception that i don`t always know where the next destination is, so the anticipation of the onward travel/adventure outweighs where I am (even if I really love a place).
Some places you can pretty much see what you want to see, and get a good enough feel in just a few hours (despite Novossibirsk being huge, for example, half day is perfectly sufficient for me to feel that i have covered the city - obviously i haven`t seen everything, but i don`t neccessarily want to. I have my impressions and my gut tells me to move on - or indigestion) even if they are quite large. Others can be months!
Sometimes even if i haven`t seen anywhere near all that i want to see, i will move on anyway, and then come back a few weeks/months later and plough in again.
And reasons are always different - sometimes people go for a specific sight/reason/event, and appart from that have no desire in the rest of the place, however good. The rail pass note is also relavant - limited time and free travel means you may try and squeeze in more, simply due to lack of otherwise available means. In my recent Japan pass, i think i covered more distance in 3 weeks than in the preceeding 6months of solid travel!
Basically, its down to the indiviiduals needs/desires/circumstances.
Our travel time is always limited. And, that usually means, depending on the type of trip we are on, we try to stick to a certain timetable - to see what we deemed highlights before leaving home. But, with that said, we also plan for those unexpected jewels. Some destinations have warranted an extra few of days, which forces us to delete something else from the list. We choose to leave the "beaten path" because we don't really get the essence of the country or state by visiting the more metropolitan places. That doesn't mean we don't visit them - just limit the time spent there. Once again, it comes down to each large city being unique yet still very much like all the rest.
If we choose a diving vacation then it becomes a different story all together. We stay put and make a point of getting to know the local residents who work at the hotel or resort. Again, there have been alterations made in those plans, but not quite as often. We also tend to spend more time with the "locals" than with other guests. (But, we do say hello as we pass them along the beach. Oh, sorry - harkens to another thread... ) Ultimately, for us - time is what really puts a crimp in the adventure.
The energy of the place either keeps me there or makes me move on. If it is a positive energy, where the people there are friendly and relaxed then I like to stay longer. If however it is the opposite of this, and people there are rude, stressed and un-friendly, then it's time to move on to the next destination.
How long is too long???
Well everybody is different, and therefore it's up to you how long you want to stay in one place.
One person's hate is anothers passion.
As long as you enjoy it, go for it.
I just had to give a definate answer, because everyone else is being all wishy-washy with these "as long as you feel is right" answers...
Seriously, though, on average I find that I can do 3 days in a city without any sort of research or thought into what I am doing and find interesting things to do. By the 4th day, however, unless I am willing to put some energy into finding out things to see, then I have seen everything I am likely to stumble upon, and it's time to go.
3 days is an average, however. Some cities more, some cities less. But 3 days seems about right.