This love letter to the cities of the world—from the airline pilot–author of Skyfaring—is “a journey around both the author’s mind and the planet’s great cities that leaves us energized, open to new experiences and ready to return more hopefully to our lives” (Alain de Botton, author of The Art of Travel).
In his small New England hometown, Mark Vanhoenacker spent his childhood dreaming of elsewhere— of the distant, real cities he found on the illuminated globe in his bedroom, and of one perfect metropolis that existed only in his imagination. These cities were the sources of endless comfort and escape, and of a lasting fascination. Streets unspooled, towers shone, and anonymous crowds bustled in the places where Mark hoped he could someday be anyone—perhaps even himself.
Now, as a commercial airline pilot, Mark has spent nearly two decades crossing the skies of our planet and touching down in dozens of the storied cities he imagined as a child. He experiences these destinations during brief stays that he repeats month after month and year after year, giving him an unconventional and uniquely vivid perspective on the places that form our urban world.
In this intimate yet expansive work that weaves travelogue with memoir, Mark celebrates the cities he has come to know and to love, through the lens of the hometown his heart has never quite left. As he explores emblematic facets of each city’s identity— the road signs of Los Angeles, the old gates of Jeddah, the snowy streets of Sapporo—he shows us with warmth and fresh eyes the extraordinary places that billions of us call home.