Sunday Scribbles | Lost in Belgium

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“I took the road less traveled … now, I don’t know where the hell I am.” — Unknown

The Sunday Scribbles is a weekly post sharing an excerpt from my travel journal — raw, unedited, in-the-moment writing. Check out the original post to read how it began and why I believe parts of the journal are worth sharing.

•• August 8, 2016 | Bruges, Belgium ••

“Yesterday was a bit different from all the rest. We unintentionally biked 46 miles. What we thought would be a casual ride through the canals to the beach turned into feeling lost 70 percent of the time in a country that we weren’t even staying in! Wah.

The morning started as planned — casually biking along the canals out of the city to the small town of Damme. It was so pretty — calming waters, sheep and cows surrounding us, shimmering greenery. There were even people swimming laps in the canals. From there, we crossed into Holland to explore the hustling town of Sluis before arriving to the beach Het Zoute. 

The madness began once we left the beach, as it was nearly impossible to get back on the correct bike trail to Bruges. None of the keys on our paper map matched the symbols on the trails. We knew we needed to go southwest, but every time we started down a trail, it became apparent we were going in the wrong direction. After an hour of trial and error [ and lots of frustration ], we decided to nix the bike trail and ride along the road, where we could follow road signs back to Bruges. [ MUST I REMIND YOU WE WERE NOT EVEN IN THE RIGHT COUNTRY?! ]

At some point on the journey home, we stumbled upon two policemen who were of no help whatsoever. They couldn’t believe how far away we were from Bruges but confirmed we were heading in the right direction.

In the end, I am not sure we made the right decision. It took us more than three hours to get home from the beach. Much of this route was on a sidewalk that ran along a highway. The wind was excruciating. The hills were steep. We ran out of water and snacks. We were exhausted, thirsty and hungry. When our legs were about to collapse, we would use our hands to push down on our knees. The only thing that kept us going was that we had no other choice. 

Today, my entire body feels like jelly. But here’s the silver lining: We got a killer workout, saw the beauty of two countries and deserved the massive meal we had for dinner — steak, fries, chocolate cake and wine!”

••

Have you had a similar experience traveling? Share your best “travel fails” in the comments.

Planning a trip to Belgium, The Netherlands or both? Check out the travel guides to Bruges and Amsterdam to get you started.

And finally, here are several photos from the infamous bike ride, as well as around town in Bruges.

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