These past couple months have been a whirlwind of airports, hotel rooms, and jet lag; we’ve been living like nomads, not spending more than five nights in the same bed for over a month. But after clocking countless hours of flight time and thousands of miles, we are beginning to settle into our new home in Melbourne, Australia. For the first time in weeks, I have a second to breathe and appreciate these amazing adventures.The first stop on our European tour was Belgium, the land of delicious waffles, chocolate, and lots and lots of beer! I had been there once before, about nine years earlier with my family and was pleased to see this beautiful country had not changed much. We had planned to stay all five of our nights in Brussels, the capital and largest city in the country, but after hearing of a thwarted terrorist attack on the main square during the New Year’s Eve firework show, we decided to play it safe and take the train to the quaint town of Bruges where we rang in the New Year surrounded by beautiful canals, tiny cobblestone streets and a hefty dose of drunk Belgians. When I first visited Bruges with my family, we did what most people do when they come, wandered the canals and admired the beautiful buildings and picturesque setting. While doing so, we came across one of many low bay windows hanging over a canal. The window was open and resting his head on a pillow with his nose out the window was a beautiful yellow Labrador. I stood and watched him for several minutes; this was clearly something he did everyday as he had not only a comfy spot but the perfect view of the passing tourists across the canal. I remember snapping a photo to remember the adorable scene and we moved on.
Several years later, Andy and I were watching the movie In Bruges (a really fun and beautiful film if you haven’t yet seen it) and as you might guess, it takes place almost entirely in Bruges. In one of the scenes, they cut to various picturesque frames to convey the beauty and quaintness of the town and for a few seconds, there on the screen, was the same golden Lab laying in his window, watching the people pass by. I remember yelping in surprise and excitement, I had seen that exact dog and even snapped a photo of him doing this exact same thing!
Fastforward several years again to this most recent trip and Andy and I are making our way through the twisting canals. I’m telling him the story of the golden Lab for the millionth time and we agree that even if I was able to locate the exact same canal and window again, it was highly unlikely that the dog would still be alive and sitting at his perch (it was, you see, about nine years since my first visit and while it was impossible to know his exact age at the time, it was clear that he was not a young pup). As we made our way down yet another canal, we came across a window that struck me as familiar. I slowed down to give it a second look; the windows were closed (as they should be, it was the middle of winter and chilly 30 degrees outside), the shades partially drawn and there was no dog as far as I could tell. Andy insisted we move on, but I stayed and looked a little closer. Within the window was what appeared to be a beige pillow or throw. Perhaps this was the old boy, laying in his window with his back to us. I pointed this out to Andy, “See he just needs to turn around!” We waited for several minutes hoping the blanket would magically transform itself into a dog. Just then, a large head slowly rose and looked over its shoulder at us before laying back down and falling asleep facing the window. I snapped this photo of the old boy in his favorite spot, perhaps the last time I’ll get to see him.
I was hoping to include the original picture I had taken in order to provide a side by side comparison, but I fear it is stored on an external disk back in our SF apartment. I did a little research and learned that the pup’s name is Fidel and he does in fact sit in this exact spot everyday. If you Google him I’m sure you’ll find plenty of photos just like mine, taken throughout the years.
Back in Brussels, we stayed at the wonderful Hotel Made in Louise where we enjoyed a spacious room, kind staff and delicious breakfast each morning. We spent our days wandering the city, stopping frequently for drinks and snacks, Andy sampling many of the local brews and I enjoying far too many Nutella covered waffles.
The city was still decked out in its holiday best with garland and lights. The main square boasted a gigantic Christmas tree and nativity scene while the local shops and cafes had snowmen and Santa Claus’ painted on their windows and banners that read “Joyeux Noël!” over their doorways.While we enjoyed our time in Belgium, I think we were both anxious and excited to move on to Copenhagen, the next stop on our trip!