I’m rubbish at being a tourist. Most of the time I don’t even try. I went to Reykjavík and didn’t visit the Blue Lagoon. I went to Sydney and didn’t see the Opera House. I’ve been to Barcelona four times and I’ve still never gone near La Sagrada Familia.
Instead, I mostly wander around and take pictures of walls.
The day before I left, Edinburgh was all about the haar, something I’m unlikely to get much of in Berlin. I took crappy pictures to try and convey how difficult it was to see ahead of me.
The day I left, it was grey and rainy. I caught the cheapo number 35 bus to the airport. I pondered the fact that I didn’t know when I would be back in town, and concluded: oh. I watched as someone walked into a field with a shopping bag, wearing a cardboard box on his head. I thought: oh.
The Brussels flight was mostly populated by businessmen. The one opposite me in the departure lounge looked me up and down, didn’t seem to approve of what he saw. Another one tried to barge ahead of me in the queue. I sat in my window seat hoping the one next to me would stay unoccupied, but eventually a middle-aged Belgian banker sat down in it. Hello, he said, nice to travel with you.
Likewise, I replied.
Thank you, he said.
I thought it was a pretty nice opening remark. We spent most of the flight talking about travel and languages. He was good company, and I meant to wish him all the best when we disembarked, but instead I kept moving while he located his luggage, unsure if I should hang around.
I keep feeling tempted to write ‘Brustles’, but I should banish such awful ideas from my head. Belgium is my first new country this year, and my first French-speaking destination since Quebec in the mid-nineties. Today I wandered the streets with My Mysterious Friend Germán, took in the Moomin exhibition at the Centre Belge de la Bande Dessinée, went for mint tea. Tonight I cooked mushroom, lemon & leek risotto for three Czechs and a Spaniard. Minus the leek. Also minus some of the other stuff that usually goes into it. I had my ladle, though. I can’t believe, observed My Mysterious Friend Germán, that not only have you packed less than 15 kilos of stuff to cover your needs for the next several months, but you’ve included cooking utensils. Yes. If I can bring it it means I don’t have to buy it when I get there.
Here is all I’ve got:
From top to bottom and left to right:
- Cheap second-hand jacket, with lining completely falling apart
- Cardigan donated by friend
- Rucksack given to me by kind boss when I left on my first solo trip aged eighteen; it’s been everywhere with me since, and shows no signs of falling apart. Still bears Jetstar luggage tag from last year’s Australia trip (a redundancy gift to myself)
- Shoulderbag with handy compartments for discperson and camera
- Canvas bag containing laptop, which actually fits into shoulderbag, but I needed to create some more space to accommodate the extra complimentary sandwich I scrounged on the flight.
Next stop: Amsterdam.