Two day trips and my fall break were spent indulging in the world’s chocolate capitals – Belgium and Switzerland. Just a stone’s throw from Lille, Brussels and Bruges were my first day excursions from France, followed by Lucerne and Geneva for my week off in October.
Besides the copious amounts of amazing chocolate, I indulged in Belgian frites, beer, waffles, and a breathtaking view of the Swiss Alps. The stunning train ride from Lucerne to Geneva made me realize that it was the first time I was seeing mountains (kind of a sad thought) but it accounted for why I was so amazed at how majestic nature can be.
The moment that tipped the scales for me during these trips was the last few moments in Bruges..
I left that day with a huge mix of emotions – disbelief, happiness, shock and amazement. Thinking back, the store with my name could have been seen as foreshadowing of the event that took place. The event might not hold as great a significance for everyone, but for me it was truly an awe-inspiring moment. When I was 15, my dad cut out a picture from the newspaper of a pretty canal lined with houses and trees, and a boat full of passengers riding down the river. It was from the travel section, where they encourage photographers to send in photos from around the world. He suggested I try painting it. In my head, I always assumed it was Italy, and never really gave it much thought. He liked the painting so much that he had it framed and hung up in our house.
6 years later we were about to leave Bruges when one of the friends I was with wanted to walk over to a bridge to take a photo. I stood where I was, but decided to accompany her last minute. Upon reaching her, I did a double take. The scene was so familiar in my head after hours of poring over the slightly fuzzy photo to ensure I had every detail right, that when I looked at it, it took me a second to realize what I was seeing. This was my painting! Every detail was just as I had captured it – the large, leafy tree extending over the water, the mismatch of houses lining the canal. Only one thing was missing, and that was the boat filled with tourists. This is when I realized that that boatload of people had been us, only a few hours earlier on our spontaneous decision to take the tour. I couldn’t explain to my friends what I was seeing. I could only stare at the very real scene before my eyes and try to sort out my feelings and the amazement of it all. My mind was racing, my heart filled with excitement and trying to make sense of it on a deeper level. I started to think about coincidences and how much of our life is written for us versus the choices we make. The chances of me seeing this scene in real life were so small, miniscule really, yet here I was. I had no intention of ever finding this place, and had forgotten about the painting for the most part. Perhaps my 15 year old self had subconsciously made a decision the moment I picked up that brush, and I had unknowingly painted a piece of my future. My dad was the only other person who could truly appreciate the experience, and was ecstatic when I had the chance to tell him. However I look at it, no amount of chocolate could have created a sweeter moment.