Monday, January 24, 2011

Lone Traveler

I just got off the phone with my mom, who is in San Diego right now, spending a day in the city on her own while my dad is in business meetings.  She said to me, "I got up this morning and was at the hotel by myself, when I thought, this must be how Shirah feels all the time. You kind of have to kick yourself to get up and go out and see the world - it can be hard when you're somewhere all alone."

She's exactly right.  As much as I love my independence, I derive so much of my happiness from - and feel most fulfilled in - meaningful relationships. And when I'm somewhere new, fascinating, and exhilarating, I want to share the experience with the people I know and love best. It takes determination, focus, and a little encouragement to really thrive in a foreign place. It's so easy to stay inside - both literally and figuratively.  I find that sunny weather really helps me get out of the house, but even then, it can be a challenge to burst out of our own comforting bubble and truly engage with the people and objects and events surrounding us.  Even now, as a seasoned solo traveler, I struggle with this from time to time. But not this weekend.



I was supposed to meet up with Dimitris on Sunday afternoon, a young man from Greece who is studying in Maastricht, Holland -- just a 1-hour train-ride from Brussels.  I met Dimitris on the plane from Frankfurt to Brussels, and agreed to show him around Brussels some afternoon since he's never spent any time here.  I was excited to introduce him to my city -- my host city, that is. After living here for a year, I feel a little attached.  So I pulled the See Brussels downtown guide off the bookshelf in my room, and traced out a nice little route around the Grand Place, one that would take us by a 7th-century cathedral, the famous covered Royal Galleries filled with boutiques boasting old books, antiques, and the best Belgian chocolatiers, Manneken Pis, and the little alleyways teeming with some of Belgium's most delicious restaurants (national specialty = steamed mussels accompanied by Belgian fries) and bars with over 200 beers on tap.

Unfortunately, Dimitris missed his train and wasn't able to join me. But I was so excited to relive my first discoveries of the city that I ventured on by myself and thoroughly enjoyed an afternoon strolling the old city.
I have photos, I can assure you.  But first....I owe you some photos of Amsterdam!

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