Basque graffiti, the beach, meeting loads of new people and trying to spend my free time with them – all of this made me realise a couple of days ago that although most of my friends know SOME city games, few people seem to know ALL of those I know, and even fewer have actually tried them. And so I’ve decided to write this post – to teach you, to learn from you and to encourage you to go out and have fun doing something different.

“City games” is just a name I came up with – for some of them you don’t have to be in a city and others are not games as such at all. My list isn’t also perfectly logical – high-tech RPGs are narratives as well for example – nor is it finished. What I describe below are just my favourites accompanied by a few obvious examples that everyone has heard about. Do let me know if you’ve come across something else and generally any comments are welcomed.

1. Sports

a) parkour

Parkour, an extreme sport invented  in France in the 1990s, is basically about going from A to B in urban space without caring about obstacles and so, as you can imagine, it includes lots of climbing, jumping and trespassing.

b) “city surfing”

‘City surfing” (“city snowboarding”), one of my favourite pastimes since I was a kid, is simply about standing in means of public transport (buses or older types of trams) with your hands in the air. It’s great because buses in trams have their routes, so after some time you learn the degree of difficulty of each route and you can practice a particularly tricky turn or something – those of you who live in my hometown – check out ulica Gwarna! And if it gets really rough, just try jumping up and down as often as you can 🙂

My nicest memory connected with city surfing is surfing with Nat and Mat on a bus in Bydgoszcz, all of us still wearing stage make-up after a show.

2. Art

a) altering a graffiti

Change the spelling of a graffiti (using bluetacked pieces of paper, your bodies or… black panty liners), so that it says something else. Here in Donostia I’m thinking of changing some of the “gora” ones (e.g. “Gora Euskal Herria” – “gora” means “up” in Basque) into Polish “górą” (“górą Kraj Basków”), which – surprise, surprise – as a phrase means exactly the same!

b) “beach circles”

Go to the beach at night. Make a huge shape in the sand. Come back in the morning (when you’re sober?) to see the result. Remember that some beaches are raked in the mornings.

c) “the wall”

Make a long line out of pebbles, shells or any other available material (on a Baltic beach I make lines that join the dunes/cliff with the water). Beware of German tourists, who tend to stop at your line and ask if they can cross it.

3. Narratives

a) pretending to be tourists in a shitty place

To the amazement of local population. Sometimes you do discover lovely, little-known places – happened with me and Trollhättan, where I went on purpose for a week, not really sure if I’m not crazy. My next destination –Irun 😉

You can also visit some really dull places (the Concrete Museum, anyone?) and make the best of it 😀

b) pretending to be tourists in a place you know nothing about

Also happens if you’re visited by a particularly talkative guest – you’re the host but they do all the talking about the tourist attractions you’re showing them.

c) pretending to be a tourist guide or the owner of the place in a large building

If you’ve visited a palace (or something similar) with me, you might remember me pretending to be a duchess, waving my fan and explaining to you how we’ve refurbished the dining room 🙂

d) changing a space into your flat or bedroom

Useful if you’re stuck in a queue – just imagine how you’d adapt a given space to suit your needs. Dunno, might not be as exciting for someone who didn’t plan to study archutecture…

4. Puzzles

a) treasure hunt

b) paper chase

c) Fort Boyard

Requires lots of effort and preparation but is doable – done it once (in a flat) for my little cousin (children are easier to impress).

5. Collecting things

a) scavenger hunt

Most entertaining in a large shared flat or halls of residence (oh, UWIC Cyncoed Campus…)

b) photo safari

My favourite subjects are “England in x” an “Japan in x” – take a photo in Wrocław and tell everyone it’s Oxford.

c) supermarket hunt

Go to a supermarket and buy five weirdest things you can find that you wouldn’t normally buy. Particularly rewarding in a foreign country where you don’t understand the labels and you end up using pea soup as bread spread.

6. High-tech games


“Let’s go outside
In the sunshine
I know you want to
But you can’t say yes
Let’s go outside
In the moonshine
Take me to the places that I love best”


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One Response to “CITY GAMES”

  1. Natalia Peek-Poźniak Says:

    Oh, surfing with you was fun! Finally somebody to join in instead of watching and wondering why the heck we’re doing such strange stuff. As I’m missing out on all the public transport nowadays I get a lot less practice, but I can still challenge you on Gwarna 🙂

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