My initial plan for this weekend was to use up a couple of Railpass days making a voyage through France. Hit up a town that everyone’s heard of but nobody actually goes to, like Dijon or Lyon or Strasbourg. Taste some French food and French wine. And then be confused about what I was going to do, because I don’t know what people do in these cities. Nobody wanted to go to France, though, so I talked to one of my friends here and we decided to go back to Amsterdam. But then we realized that, for a “short weekend trip”, that was pretty expensive. (plus my friend’s on the no-budget plan) So we went to Belgium instead, because traveling through Belgium is real cheap. ($4.50 from any Belgian city to any other) We picked Antwerp, pretty arbitrarily.
So I was a little disappointed. But that didn’t make any sense; I’m going to a new Belgian city! That’s cool! So I decided not to be disappointed, and to just take it really easy, and just not worry about anything. Not plan anything, not read about it in my guidebook, not think “oh no, I’m missing all this cool stuff”… just exist, walk around, do whatever sounds like a good idea.
We got there at 3 pm or something, spent a couple hours looking for a hostel, with no luck. We found a double hotel room for $50, but like I said, my friend was not about to spend any more than he absolutely had to, so we decided to head back that night. We wandered for 4 hours, probably missed every Antwerp landmark, saw a couple of cool pubs and other neat things, almost had The World’s Most Exclusive Beer, and so on.
So what’s the end result of this trip-and-travel-style-experiment? I don’t know. Was it enlightening? A little bit. Disappointing? A little bit of that too. I wish I’d planned a room in advance anyway. Once we had a map, things made more sense. I still can’t decide if I want to travel like my dad- planning things out at every step along the way- or like a carefree person who just stumbles along and happens to run into cool things. I think I like planning things. But again, not too much! If you spend all your time planning, you see all the tourist sites, you never get a feel for a city at all.
I guess the best thing to do is to find a balance. Surprise!
Oh yeah, also, I went to the TEFAF. Check my photos!
Ahh, don’t go to Dijon–I’ve been there, and there truly is nothing to see except the mustard. And I didn’t even get to try the mustard when I was there.
Strasbourg is apparently really cool though.
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