Monday, February 14, 2011

A crazy little thing called love..

It was a little crazy, deciding on the spur of the moment where we were going to go.

graffiti, Antwerp
I mean, we were in foreign lands, not even able to speak the language. I suppose some might even consider us foolish to not have decided where we were going, reserved our train tickets, and carefully researched the options ahead of time. We had picked the brains of some of our better-traveled European friends as to where we should or should not go, but that was pretty much it.

In the moment, it was rather freeing. Mostly we went for what was convenient. There are worse decision-making techniques being employed out there, right?

And you know what? It worked out fine. Better than fine, actually. The train personnel are multilingual and impressively competent in getting you to where you sporatically decide to go (!), and with the internet it was a simple matter of a few keystrokes to find a hotel room.

All we had to do was book it to the train, which turned out to be so long that we were positively gasping by the time we came to the end of a serious foot-pounding heart thumping hustle to our assigned carriage. Hurled ourselves inside and watched Paris roll away.


I didn't have a color-tabbed guidebook now. Heck, I had no guidebook, no printouts, not even a lousy brochure.


Now, Antwerp has an entirely different feel the moment you step off the train. If Paris is an eclair, then Antwerp is a waffle. Not as serious about itself, nor as decadent or elegant but playful, a little kooky, even.
I remember walking onto campus at university and having a certain sensation, a feeling that we all recognize but there isn't a name for. It's a combination of feeling that the world and life and all their riches are open to you, with a sort of dark undertone that you know they actually aren't, which expresses itself as irony, then gleefully topped with the powdered sugar that is a giddy devil-may-care silliness and a willingness in spite of yourself to try things, to accept the unusual, to see in other ways. It makes you walk rather than drive, talk about deep things and not-so-deep things, crack jokes, linger over drink and conversation, and learn.
Maybe it's just me.
Anyway, that's how Antwerp made me feel. Like a university student in my 20s in the summer sun.
In Antwerp, there is chocolate, (Belgian chocolate!) and there is beer (Belgian beer!), and there is plenty of that incredible coffee for discussions.

This could be heaven. Not a quiet heaven, but a lively, fun one. Cherubs instead of angels and cobblestone lanes to wander

with that outdoorsy, healthy feeling that is unique to certain European cities.

It a place to be in love. How funny is that? We'd just left Paris, which is supposed to be the place to get all gaga and romantic, and we appreciated it, sure, but Antwerp is such an unexpected little gem, a last fling for us before returning to the USA, parenting and bills and jobs and all the everyday things that we, well, have to remind ourselves to appreciate. I suppose it was inevitable to feel a bit goofy.

Which may be why I laughed myself sick over this SUPER SNEL service sign (can't you just hear Colonel Klink shouting it at poor bumbling Schultz?) and then went to find myself and my spousal unit some more lovely beers.
Seemed like the thing to do.

1 comment:

AKBrady said...

My hubs lived in Belgium as a young man while his folks were stationed there w/ Red Cross and he went to University. We'd go there in a second. Love the Belgian way.