Are you the kind of traveler who goes back to the same place time and time again? Or does your cardinal rule of travel state that one should never see the same thing twice? My own thoughts on the subject fall somewhere in between these two extremes. I've returned to some places, not returned to others, and have felt the pros and cons that are inevitably tied to both of these choices. It is, therefore, with a mix of excitement and trepidation that I will be hopping a plane to Paris on Saturday. If you've been counting, that's only seven and a half weeks since I left.
Going back can be fun. You get to frequent your favorite restaurants and shops again, try some new things to didn't get around to last time, and visit with old friends. But what can a second trip do to your memories? Seeing a place for a second time can be jarring, especially if your mindset has changed. When I studied abroad in Cannes in 2001, this French Riviera hot-spot was just a fun place for a college junior to drink some cheap wine, stay out until all hours of the morning and sun herself on the fabulous beach for hours on end. Visiting it again this past summer allowed me to observe the city with my older (and hopefully, wiser) eyes. It became an over-the-top, showy town filled with superficiality and a stark line between the haves and the have-nots. Memories are precious, and sometimes you don't want to change them. I'll always fondly remember Cannes, and my time there was second to none, but it's tough to see it with the wide-eyed optimism I once did.
I can understand why people like to go back to the same places. Doing so is comfortable, familiar, low-risk, and you already know you like it. There are a lot of places I've gone back to and fully enjoyed the second or third time around. Iceland stands out as one of these destinations. Loved it multiple times; would love to go back again. I wouldn't say no to a second trip to Florence or Scotland either. And Paris is a pretty good bet for multiple trips seeing as how there is so much to do and see. It's a city that's impossible to get bored with. Boredom isn't the worry here, though. I wonder what going back to Paris will do to the memories of my recent trip. Maybe it's too soon to change anything in my mind. After all, the trip to Cannes was so jarring because I wasn't that young college student anymore. I was seeing the city through completely different eyes. Paris, however, will be seen through pretty much the same eyes as last time. Will the city look or feel different to me? Will I be as in love with it as I was this past spring and summer? Well, there's only one way to find out. See you in Paris!