Kate and I have a general rule that in our travels we don’t return to the same destination. There are simply too many places in the world to justify a repeat, no matter how cherished the location or our time spent there.
We visited Copenhagen six years ago for a long (but not long enough) child-free weekend. We took the train across the sound and spent a cold and blustery day walking around the charming streets of the Swedish city of Malmö. Today I had the opportunity to revisit Malmö for a work event.
When I found out that I would be going to Malmö, all I thought of was the little coffee roaster and café that Kate and I had discovered a bit off of the beaten path, which was otherwise littered with Espresso Houses (local Starbucks clone). I wondered if the place was still there and if I could even find it.
After my work obligations were done, I wandered out of the Malmo train station and into the city, with only a vague idea of the direction of the coffeehouse. Glaring shards of sunlight were breaking through the grey ceiling of clouds across the city as I crossed a bridge, made a couple turns through the city streets, and immediately recognised the building in front of me.
It was buzzing with locals and provided the same warm refuge from the biting wind as it had for Kate and I six years prior. As I sat with my pastry and flat white I reminisced about that first trip. Not recalling just the coffeehouse. But our absolutely freezing running tour of Copenhagen. Who I was, and all of the things that had yet to happen in life. I was working at Microsoft and had just completed my LLM degree. We were living in London and had a two, four and six-year-old at home.
I was amused by thinking of all of the things that were to come over the next six years that I could have never predicted. I didn’t know I would soon be taking a massive professional leap to join old friends and have another attempt with a startup. I didn’t know that Kate and I had recently met friends who would become like family. I didn’t know that we would move half way around the world to Sydney to start over once again.
The fact that a walk through a previously visited city and a coffee can bring all of this to mind makes me see the value in revisiting destinations. It’s more than nostalgia. These otherwise inconsequential shops, bridges, walkways, and smells, are scattered across my travels, hiding like experiential time capsules. They’re just waiting to be dug up, to reminded of how far I’ve come and of the impossibility of knowing where tomorrow will take me.
I won’t be going out of my way to revisit destinations. But when the moment presents itself, I’ll see it as an opportunity to reflect on how much life has changed, no matter how much the destination has stayed the same.