Returning to a location that you love is always an interesting experience. I’ve often thought about how a spot can change when you consider the people you are traveling with and the objective of your travels.
This is my third time to Paris, and I am here with a dear friend instead of some people (albeit who soon became my friends) that I barely knew. My mission has changed—neither of us are really interested in running around the city trying to see the Eiffel Tower or the Arc di Triomphe. Instead, we’re letting Paris take us by storm instead of the other way around. It’s always interesting to see how your relationship with a place can change, and though I’m not as awestruck as I have been by this beautiful city in the past, there’s a calm sense of wonder that feels strangely like coming home.
Last year, I returned to Venice—my original stomping grounds from when I had studied abroad as a teenager. I was amazed to find that it was an entirely new city and that my understanding of it had changed from when I first gaped at the beauty of the Grand Canal. The second time I returned, I was disillusioned by the grandeur, but it did not mean that I loved the city in less or I was disappointed. Venice is still the closest place to heaven on earth for me, but it is definitely rooted on earth—there are things about it that I would have a harder time putting up with now that I’m older and have done some more traveling. (Like paying for a vap pass every month. Not fun.)
Keeping that in mind, I’ve been thinking about my experience with Paris and who I am now compared to who I was when I first strolled down the Champs-Elysees. I’ve grown up a little bit more, and my priorities have changed in what I desire from my travel experiences. More and more, I want to get to know a place rather than pass through just to say that I did it. Venice has changed for me, and the City of Light has too. Perhaps that’s another piece of beauty about traveling—you’ll never live the same moment twice. The world around you changes as you do.
Have you ever returned to a city to find it different than your previous time? Was it better? Or worse?