You Can Dream But You Can Never Go Back The Way You Came
April 30, 2007
Some of the places I’ve visited have a special spot in my heart, whether its because of their exoticness, their beauty, or the people I met there. And some places are just magical. Paris comes to mind, as do Fez and Marrakesh. Vienna’s up there too, along with Amsterdam (and no, not because of certain legal substances).
Thanks to some tentative plans to go visit my brother who will be studying in Europe next year, I’ve recently been wondering what it will be like if/when I re-visit some of my favorite cities. For some reason, I’ve been wondering that if these places will have the same effect on me when I go back (and I’m sure I will eventually). After all, happy memories cast a rose-colored glow on everything.
I can’t quite imagine the medinas of Morocco or the medieval streets of Seville losing their magic. Even if my second impression doesn’t have the same luster as the first, all it would take is an hour or two to get back into the rhythm of the city. These are the kind of places that retain their allure forever, like a classic novel or an intricately woven silk carpet. Age and experience only makes them more interesting.
Paris is only city that I’ve really re-visited. My first trip to the city of light was in March, during the spring break of my junior year of college (some girls “go wild”, I go to the D’Orsay), and my next was in June after I’d graduated. When I first arrived in the city for second time, I honestly wondered why I’d loved the place so much. Where was the dreamlike, misty city I’d seen a year ago?
It was the humid high season, the height of rush hour, and our tiny, difficult to locate hotel on the Place de la Republique had lost our reservation. Not a combination that makes for a positive attitude. I was pissed off at the crowds of tourists and the general air of unpleasantness that seemed to prevail.
But several hours later, the owners had cleared some rooms (well, one actually belonged to some temporary roommates - two adorable Russian Blue cats – but that’s a story for another day), the air had cooled, and we were watching the sun set from a small cafe on the banks of the Seine. It was then I realized that it was the tiny details and a kind of intangible atmospheric quality that made Paris so special.
Sometimes you have to let a place show itself to you again, remind why you fell in love with it. And nothing ever stays exactly the same, especially not in the age of globalization and the “flattening world”. However, the magic of exotic (and not-so-exotic) lands remains if you’re willing to look for it.