When I left for Europe a couple weeks ago for my first vacation since the pandemic, I was hopeful that it would be somewhat of a restful trip. This was going to be the first time since going freelance that I did not have to take work with me. Every other trip, I was hunched over my iPad in the mornings and/or evenings chipping away at some looming deadline that was just around the corner.
Well no more! This time around, I managed to wrap up all my work obligations so I can be fully present on the trip and soak in the sights and experiences Europe had to offer.
Sadly, as I write this, I'm a mere shell of the man I once was. When I began my vacation, I had two functioning knees that allowed me to walk upright at will. In my hubris, I had planned to use my then healthy body to visit Brussels, Bruges, Ghent, Paris and Amsterdam in two weeks. As I type this, I realize how insane that itinerary must sound.
The initial plan was to just languidly explore all of Belgium during our stay but it turns out that Paris and Amsterdam were both just mere hours away by train. How could we not? Sure it was a lot to see in a fairly short amount of time, but I'll just make up for it by walking a trillion miles a day as evidenced by the following data:
My left knee now needs to be slowly coaxed out of it's 30 degree bend every morning as I hobble my way to the washroom.
Bellyaching aside, here are some highlights from my trip.
European Comic Scene
Comics seem to be held in a higher regard in Europe, particularly in Belgium. Makes sense since it was the birthplace of TinTin! I didn't get a chance to dive too deeply into it while I was there but the comics shops I visited had a distinctly different feel than most of the shops I'm used to in North America. They seem more like regular book shops but every book is a beautiful, oversized comic. Brussels had a Comic Arts Museum that was amazing to walk through.
Every corner we went, there was another amazing piece of architecture. It actually got rather numbing because after a while we couldn't tell whether we were looking at an important historical building or an Apple Store.
Coming from Canada where everything is pretty new, it's quite amazing to walk in places that such a sense of history.
Art was everywhere.
On a similar note, the easy access to some of the most incredible pieces of art in human history was ridiculous. Again, it was almost overwhelming wandering from one room to another, seeing original Monet, Van Gogh, and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. It's actually hard to remember my experience there because I was trying to see it all, much to my regret. By the end of my trip, I had gained some wisdom and spent eight hours really soaking in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, which, by the way, was giving out Pokemon cards if you pass their Van Gogh quiz.
Which we did.
That's it for this week. I know it was mostly pictures this time around but my brain is still mush from the jet lag and to be honest, I'm still digesting my experience in Europe and haven't really formulated any coherent thoughts around it other than "Wow!" and "I can't straighten my knee".