In his poem Ithaka, Constantine Cavafy describes “with what pleasure, what joy, you enter harbours you’re seeing for the first time”. As I often arrive by plane, harbours are not the first things I see.

But when I do see water shortly after landing, it never fails to exhilarate: the vaporetto into Venice, the evening stroll along Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour, Seattle’s waterside Pike Place Market. A few years back, as I walked in brilliant sunlight across the white-painted Cavenagh Bridge over the Singapore River, I said to myself: you were lucky to have done all this (and lucky, too, to be going back to a cloudier country where I can say what I like). Even when the first sight is the airport metro station or a rainy street, I’m lifted by the thought of being somewhere different...

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