Think back to the first trip you took without your parents. Where did you go? Why did you choose that city / region / country? What types of things influenced your decision (books, movies, magazines, friends)?
My first independent trip was to Paris when I was not yet 20 years old. I had finished theatre school and was working at a restaurant in downtown Vancouver to pay the bills while I waited for my agent to call with the next audition.
My roommate at the time mentioned Paris offhand; a (now ex) boyfriend made me watch countless French New Wave films (Godard, Truffaut, Rohmer, Chabrol…); I began slowly picking up books by Beauvoir and Colette, and then devouring books by imports like Hemingway, Stein, Anaïs Nin and Henry Miller. In no time, I was completely obsessed with Paris. (When the film Amèlie was released, my mania was renewed!)
I saved all of my tips from the restaurant and put them into my “Paris fund,” which was then promptly spent on plane tickets and a hotel for a month. (I actually faxed my credit card information over on a hand-written cover letter – see photo below.)
I was young. Paris represented sophistication, elegance, maturity, independence, all things I craved in my life at that time. It did not disappoint. My favourite quote from my journal is: “I’ve gained as many layers as I’ve taken off and learned as many lessons as I’ve thrown away.”
Paris has now become a city I go to for reflecting, digesting the whirlwind that my life often feels like, re-assessing where I’m at, and a change for when I need to get out of this casual west coast attitude (I’m in Vancouver) and dress it up with some high fashion. My Parisian experience has changed because I have changed (aka. gotten older). Perhaps why and how we travel is a reflection of what we need more of in our “regular” lives, or for others, what we want to escape from?
Now, when I plan a trip, I seek out other things – locally grown food, lush wilderness, creative people, cultural traditions not my own – all things I love to have in my life. Before my last trip to Kyoto, I read up on geisha (called geiko there) and maiko, which gave the streets of Gion and Pontocho a whole new life for me.
Tell me about your first trip: Where did you go? Why did you choose that city / region / country? What types of things influenced your decision? What influences it now? How does this reflect who you are and how you’ve changed since that time?