Lessons Learned In Large Cities

Bruges, Brussels Lessons and Insights

Dear Reader,

I am writing to you from a cozy table, tucked in the corner of the restaurant beneath my hostel. The sun is shining in the window to my right, and in front of me sits a plant, unwinding to reach out and welcome the sun, and all at once I can feel myself start to breath again. Slow and steady, welcoming the calm back in.

I find myself in the small Belgium town of Bruges. The building across the street is adorned in red brick, matching red shutters and a chimney spouting smoke. Bikers ride past, bouncing along the cobblestone streets and the air smells of the sea, chocolate and beer.

While not as small as Bellingham, this city feels manageable. It feels authentic and grounded. It holds the spirit of home. And for this, my homesick heart is grateful.

I have chosen a life of full-time travel, and while I love it, there is also something to be said for grounding in, there is something to be said for a home base, whether it’s your car, your favorite campground, your best friends couch or even a home of your own which you return to from time to time.

Sometimes, you have to find those home bases on the road. And for me, Bruges feels like a home base.

Originally, I had planned to spend a day or two in Bruges, a quick stop over, after exploring the large city of Brussels. But as always, the places I wander through hold greater knowledge about what I need, than I could possibly imagine.

So, sitting in Brussels two days ago, on the steps of Parc Mont Des Arts, wind whispering around me, I listened to the city and wrote. And the words I wrote sang with the honesty I have been turning away, they revealed my desires, and landed me here in Bruges. And here they are:


Litte legs

clamber down steps

too large,

to traverse.

Sax music

fills the air

waking

the whispers in the wind.

Hands,

always

too cold

to write.

Gardens,

alive, sprouting

red and green

in the winter wind.

City scapes

rise

reaching out

to touch grey skies.

A business card

jumps

from my journal.

As if it needs to escape,

and I realize,

so do I.

A city of perfection

surrounds me,

yet something inside me shouts,

let

me

out.

My legs long to

climb mountains

that make them feel

small once again.

My body longs to

dance

to natures music,

the song she creates

when her waves

embrace the shore.

My hands long

to warm

above a wood fire stove

all my own,

hundreds of miles away

from buildings tall enough

to touch the sky.


I can tell I am reaching the end of my time in Europe. I long to move away from the bustling cities, they will always be here waiting for me. And I will be back for them soon. But for now, I long for quiet countryside side towns, for magical national parks, for the wild mountains, and solitude, shared only by mother nature.

Every leg of my journey teaches me a new lesson.

Large cities remind me of the energy I can gain from time spent in large groups. They remind me stimulation has it’s place. They teach me that beauty lies in the most unexpected corners. And boy do they remind me how convenient public transportation systems can be — haha.

Large cities also remind me that they are a great one-night stand for me, but they are not my life partner. They urge me back to the solitude, charm and spirit of small towns.

Small towns remind me how much I love tiny winding streets, thrift shops filled with surprises, and cozy cafes. They give me a taste of fresh air, and show me how it feels to breathe deeply once again.

And yet, small towns still leave me longing. They know they can satisfy me longer than a large city, but eventually I will leave them in search of something better.

In search of mountain air, wood fire stoves, dinners made on the hoods of cars or the dirt of the earth and oceans I can swim naked in without disturbance.

Learning is essential. Travel has taught me more lessons than I could ever learn by staying put.

Sometimes I travel and my soul sets on fire, I know I am meant to be exactly where I am.

And sometimes, my soul calls out, begging to escape (just as it did in Brussels).

Both situations are equally important.

And here’s what I’ve learned: I will always wander wildly, in pursuit of the places I am meant to unravel in and soak up, as well as the places I am simply meant to pass through, and every where in between.

But, I also know, true learning is putting our lessons into practice.

And ya’ll, right now, I am learning when we need to return to our the places that speak to our souls, when they call us back, we should listen!

May we travel to every corner of the universe, may we learn the lessons they have to teach, and may we always follow the call of the universe.

With love,

Annalise