Merry Festivus everyone. Despite my lack of posting, I’m still in the land of the living.
The past semester has been a whirlwind of activity, including several research trips that had me away from the office for over 2 weeks. Add in a class that has grown in size again – this time by 25% over last year – and a bunch of projects that have become bigger and better than I ever expected, I ended the semester a wee bit exhausted.
And since I’m always wanderlusting, the only way for me to really recharge is through travel. So last week I said goodbye to my office for the last time this year, packed my carry-on, and headed to the airport with my brother and his girlfriend for what would be my fourth European adventure1. Our first destination – Paris.
While we were only in Paris for a couple of days, it was fantastic to be back in such a beautiful city. I first visited Paris over 10 years ago as part of my first European adventure, and fell in love with the city. The food, the people, the sights; every corner was a new experience, a new vision. And quite honestly, it hasn’t changed. The food is still incredible, the sights are every bit as exciting and inspiring and breathtaking. Given our short timeline, we opted to simply wander the city – catching the sights while avoiding the museums and lineups – spending most of our time in the Christmas Markets sampling the mulled wine or eating2.
Of course, Paris was but the first of our destinations. A few days ago we headed back to the airport to pick up our car and make our way to Bruges where we’d meet with Gerarda and Alan – the remaining misfits in our merry little band. Since then we’ve been wandering the city, eating our way through the Christmas Markets, and sampling as many Belgian beers as humanly possible. We took a walking tour of the city, climbed the Belfry Tower to get a view of the city from above, and had the most incredible Christmas Eve dinner at the Park Restaurant. We’ve enjoyed more mulled wine, not enough waffles, oh so many chocolates, massive bratwursts, and delicious breads and pastries. I may also have purchased a big-as-my-head coffee meringue that I’m going to dive into today (because Christmas!). Mostly, however, we’ve been captivated by the incredible beauty and timelessness of this city – every street seemingly providing a time-machine view of the world as it once was.
Fortunately we still have a few more days here before we head off to parts unknown (Amsterdam possibly?), which means we have a few more days to sample more of the amazing food and beer that Bruges offers. And of course, we have more time to wander the streets to see what new and amazing things we can find.
Merry Christmas to all of my family and friends. I hope your holidays are filled with all of the awesome things you love.
1 To all of my friends in Europe – I wish I could have met up with everyone to offer hugs and share a tasty beverage, but after the crazy semester I really just needed a simpler adventure. Fear not – I’ll be back next summer and promise to meet up.
2 Did I mention how good the food was?