How Getting Lost Changed the Way I Traveled
Just because you’re lost or can’t find your ultimate destination doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy what is currently around you.
Imagine arriving in a new city for the first time. Exciting, right? Now imagine something totally different: me, stepping off a twelve hour, overnight, uncomfortable, smelly coach ride from London to Brussels. Did I mention that it was 5 a.m., pitch black, my first trip outside of London and that I had only planned it a few days earlier? Not so exciting is it?
After shrugging off our lack of planning, my friends and I set off full of hope and excitement to our last-minute hostel. At 5 a.m. in pitch black Brussels, our excitement turned quickly to tired anger and frustration as it became increasingly clear that we were lost. As the sun rose over Belgium, it seemed all we could find was a city block that had been dug out and turned into a construction site (we have the selfie to prove it). Finally though, after an hour of searching, we somehow managed to stumble upon our hostel. We regrouped, got a map, and swore that would be the only time we got lost during our weekend trip. Boy were we wrong.
After breakfast, we set out to find La Grand-Place, a market square and arguably one of the most beautiful places I visited in Europe. With our map in hand, we were determined to find our destination with no hiccups. Despite our map and the fact that it was no longer dark out, we still managed to get lost, arguing about which direction to go at every turn. Eventually, we gave up all together and decided to go back to the hostel and wait to go on a walking tour. Surely that’d be the last time we were lost. Wrong again.
Later that night, we decided to eat at a lovely restaurant we had seen on our walking tour. We left hoping for the best but expecting the worse. Sure enough, we got lost, again. We spent over an hour trying to locate the restaurant to no avail. Our hanger set in as we realized that we may never find the restaurant we intended to eat at. While wandering the streets, we must of passed ten places that looked equally delicious as our first pick, but we decided that we were determined to find our original spot. After an exhaustive search on what seemed like every street in Brussels’ city center, we found our cozy restaurant (and the food was terrible).
As our weekend came to an end, we were put to one final test: finding the bus station where we were supposed to catch a coach back to England.
We knew it was located on a side street near the airport, but we had trouble finding the exact location. As we did laps around the airport, we became increasingly worried that we’d miss our bus home. Worry turned into panic as it got closer and closer to our departure time. Thirty minutes to departure, twenty minutes, ten minutes and still no bus. Out of breath and with dampened spirits, we finally found our bus and managed not to get stuck overnight in Brussels.
When I returned home, I thought about our weekend trip and all that had gone wrong. I worried that I wasn’t cut out for study abroad or travelling in Europe. In the middle of my self-loathing, it hit me: getting lost doesn’t have to be a bad thing.
Imagine if instead of worrying about being lost all the time, I embraced my surroundings and enjoyed the journey instead of the destination. What if instead of trying to find that restaurant for over an hour, my friends and I had picked one of the ten good looking ones we saw while wandering around. We probably would have enjoyed it more anyway. When I was lost searching for La Grand-Place my friends and I found a to die for chocolate shop that had the best chocolate I’ve ever eaten (and which stocked my flat for the next four months).
Just because you’re lost or can’t find your ultimate destination doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy what is currently around you. Getting lost in Brussels taught me that it’s okay to not know everything all the time. Stop worrying, embrace the journey, and I’m sure you’ll love what you find. Often when you are abroad, the best moments are the ones you least expect.
I hope you don’t get as lost as I did in Brussels, but if you do find yourself lost somewhere in Europe, don’t sweat it. Instead, enjoy the fact that you’re experiencing something you never would have imagined.