The Joy Of Revisiting Familiar Destinations
I have friends who refuse to travel to the same place twice. They collect countries and cities the way we collected Pokémon cards as kids - wanting to grow their total by as many as possible and not wasting any time on duplicates. Other friends view their holidays as time honoured traditions, rocking up at the same hotel year after year and greeting the staff like old friends. I sit somewhere in the middle. Nothing gives me a bigger thrill than arriving in a new destination with a whole weekend laid out ahead of me ready to explore, but sometimes, you just can’t beat the comfort that comes from revisiting a familiar destination.
As I write this post, I’m preparing for our upcoming holiday to New York. This trip will be my 6th time in the city, and my 5th visit in as many years. I would forgive you for asking why, when there are so many wonderful places in the world that I still haven’t seen, would I traipse back to the same city year after year? I'd forgive you because I kind of get your point. I've visited plenty of destinations where one trip was more than enough - Copenhagen, Milan and Bilbao to name a few. It wasn't that I didn't like those cities - quite the opposite - but I felt satisfied by the time I spent there.
But there are other places that have gotten under my skin in such a way that I know no matter how many times I visit, I’ll never be able to get enough. Take the Lake District for example - I spent pretty much every other weekend there as a kid, but I'm still lost for words whenever we drive through the beautiful countryside there. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been to Paris and know the side streets like the back of my hand, but I’ll never stop being charmed by the beautiful architecture or the stylish locals. And no matter how many times I see that Manhattan skyline from the window of a plane as it descends into JFK, I can guarantee that my stomach will still do flips as I hail a yellow cab outside of the airport.
One of my favourite things about revisiting familiar destinations is the knowledge of what’s to come. Before our West Coast road trip I felt a bit nervous - we’d spent so much money on the holiday, and we had no guarantee that we’d like the places we were visiting. But when you’re heading back to somewhere you love, that feeling of anticipation is totally different - you can get excited about buying your morning coffee from that lovely cafe with the nice pastries, and you can picture what it will be like to see the city sprawling out before you once again. You can recall how it felt to be in those places at different times of your life, and how it might feel to be there now.
That’s exactly what I’ve been doing this week - using the memories I already have of the city to picture what our upcoming trip to New York might be like. I’ve had visions of my family and I laughing as we walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, stopping for an iced coffee or a beer on the other side depending on the time of day. I've pictured us setting up a picnic in Central Park, watching the local kids playing baseball nearby and the suits dashing to and from important meetings. I know the shops I want to return to to pick up souvenirs, and what time to arrive at my favourite restaurant in order to be able to grab a seat.
And that's why I'll keep on heading back to these destinations that are so familiar and special to me - there's something so comforting and magical about returning to a city so far away from your own and having it feel like home. There's something extraordinary about being able to travel back to those places that hold so many of your favourite memories. And there's something even more incredible about going back and making even more of them with some of your favourite people.
That's exactly what I'll be doing this week - making memories with my family in New York City. I won't be getting engaged this time, or celebrating my first few days as a wife. I won't be seeing the city from a helicopter, or drunkenly partying with Irish ex-pats until 5am on a national holiday. But I'll be falling even deeper in love with New York as I create even more special moments there. And if I'm lucky, I might even come back with a few new discoveries under my belt.
Because that's the true joy of revisiting a city like New York - no matter how many trips I take, I'll never quite see it all.