I was recently lucky enough to be able to revisit a foreign city I’d been to once before. The first time I went I didn’t really like it as much as I’d expected to. I had a good time but it didn’t really click for me.
On this visit it felt like a different place. And I didn’t even get to see much of it. I was working long days and by the time I got out into the city it was dark, with only enough time to get some food and go to bed.
So what changed?
The first time you visit somewhere new, especially a big city, you go with a checklist. There are places you have to see. And you design the trip around them. But that checklist consists of the most widely accepted top sights and no matter how great they are they reflect a consensus, a sort of peer pressure.
This pressure, along with the fact that very few of us like the same things leads to wandering around trying to capture rather than experience. Taking photos, ticking things off, feeling an obligation to appreciate. Our holiday becomes other people’s.
But that second visit gives us something completely different. The pressure is gone, we don’t need to see anything, and we begin to inhabit a place. We use it how it should be used and we connect with the deeper experience.
I don’t really think that these two, very different experiences, can be put together on the same visit. They need space between them. And then we get the pleasure of returning.