I arrived in Paris in 2002 – it was the first time I set foot in Europe and only the third country I had visited overall with my first passport. Paris was new, exciting, and scary to a novice traveler like myself. I traveled with two girlfriends, Angie and Veronique, before the term ‘girlfriend getaway’ was even coined. Angie and I had recently broken up with our boyfriends and used the 11 day trip to heal the emotional void up with crepes, wine, and shopping; the best kind of boyfriend breakup therapy around!
In 2010 when I stepped off the train from Brussels and into Gare du Nord, I looked around and just smiled. The last eight years had brought on many, many changes; I found my self in the same exact train station I was in eight years ago an entirely different person. This 36 hour trip to Paris was supposed to be a photographic trip for me; a little quick getaway from my house- sitting responsibilities in Brussels made possible by a very fast train and a willing couchsurfing host. I had come to photograph Paris since my first trip to Paris consisted of no photography; my life behind the lens has been a rather new development in the last eight years.
As I looked around the train station with my little daypack and SLR camera, I was transported back to that first trip to Paris; the memories came flooding back and my brain churned through the changes that had taken place in my life. As I walked around Paris with my camera I couldn’t help but contrast the then and now.
Then: I had every second of the trip planned. Hotel reservations, car rentals, sites, tours, and even restaurant reservations.
Now: I had organized a couch to surf on for one night. My only plan was to simply wander and take photos; I didn’t even have a map. . I went into local grocery stores and bought food for a picnic. I sat in parks and simply soaked up the atmosphere. I took my time, I thought about things, I let Paris sink in
Then: I stayed in nice hotels, went to trendy clubs, and shopped until I could fit no more in my oversized suitcase.
Now: I travel with a small backpack. I couchsurfed at a French woman’s apartment, slept on her futon, and played with her cat. I took her out to eat at a simple, local restaurant. I never set foot in a store.
Then: I packed high heels and makeup in my suitcase.
Now: I have tennis shoes and sunscreen.
Then: We took taxis to get around Paris and occasionally used the metro system. However it was the first time I had really used a metro. It was confusing and I had to pay a fine because I lost my transfer ticket.
Now: I quickly adapted to the metro system using it as my primary source of transportation to get around.
Then: I bought souvenirs
Now: My photographs are my souvenirs.
Then: I mourned my relationship and mended a broken heart.
Now: My relationship is with my passport. It never breaks my heart.
Then: I carried a disposable camera
Now: I carry a DSLR with 3 lenses, filters, and a point and shoot camera.
Then: I let my friends make the decisions of what to do and where to go. I was a travel novice and simply followed their lead.
Now: I travel solo because I honestly like making all of the decisions now. I have a very specific way I like to travel, and specific things I want to experience.
Then: I devoured crepes and never set foot in the Louvre.
Now: I devour crepes and still didn’t go to the Louvre.
Then: I had no idea how my life would transform into what it is today.
Now: I have no idea what the future holds.
How have your travels changed over time; please share some of your ‘Thens and Nows’ in the comments!
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