It happens now and then. You’re in between trips and you have no clue WTF to write about but then it hits you; what about all of those trips you took before you decided to enter the wonderful and oh, so exciting world of travel blogging?
Some times it feels like I have done more traveling before starting this blog than after. Perhaps the reality is a bit different and my take on it is a little misshapen because of my perceived “lack” of travels lately.
My husband made a remark the other day after I let out this long sigh and complained that I haven’t been anywhere for the entire month of January. Boohoo, poor me. “Do you hear yourself? You have been on trips, short and long almost every other month and yet you’re still complaining?”, he said. It did bring things rather harshly into perspective.
So, while I’m patiently waiting for the day I get to hand over my boarding pass to a bored ground stewardess and I finally board the plane to my next exciting destination, allow me to entertain you with tales of my recent past.
Let me tell you about the time I got robbed on the train to Antwerp.
It was the summer of 2013, June to be exact.
My husband turned over in bed one morning and said: Why don’t I buy you a ticket to Antwerp so you can go visit your brother? I looked at him, shocked and nodded my head so vigorously that I almost snapped my own neck.
I so needed this trip. It had been a particularly stressful year for me with work and building a company. A trip to my little brother sounded like just the ticket (See what I did there?)
Yes, my husband is amaze-balls. Between you and me tough, I think he was just trying to get rid of me so he wouldn’t have to endure more whining from yours truly.
I came down the escalators to the train platform at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport with the widest smile anyone has seen. I impatiently waited for the train with destination Brussels and when it finally arrived I regret to inform you that I became one of those annoying passengers that forces her way into the train with complete disregard for others. I did it wth more style though, I was dragging a 55 pound suitcase behind me while pushing old ladies out of my way. I heard a lot of Mèrde and even a Putain! shouted in my direction.
The thing I love most about flying with Air France is that I can book the train to Brussels Midi included in my ticket from St. Maarten. The Brussels Midi station even has a check in counter for Air France. Talk about convenience.
From the Midi station it’s an easy train ride to Antwerp.
The Antwerp Central Station is one of the most beautiful train stations and I spent quite some time during my one month adventure in the city, sitting with a cup of coffee as I watched passengers dart by, rushing to their next destination.
From Antwerp Central Station it was an easy walk to the apartment I rented together with my siblings who all happened to be in Belgium to see and hold the newest member of the family, my niece Lilly.
The apartment was simply amazing and the location even more so, right at the beginning of the Meir, Antwerp’s famous shopping street. Here’s where I would be calling home for the next few days before moving into a little flat I rented close to my brother.
After a few days together I drove with my youngest sister to the Netherlands to meet up with some colleagues from my Amsterdam days.
On my way back to Antwerp however, disaster struck.
I was prepared for the long train ride and downloaded the book World War Z on my iPad so I could have something to read during the journey. What can I say? I’m a zombie fan and besides, I wanted to read the book before the movie hit cinemas later that month.
Anyway, caring co-passenger that I am, I loaded my backpack onto the overhead compartment instead of placing it next to me. I then took a seat, put my purse with money and all other valuables securely between my feet and began reading tales of an imminent zombie apocalypse. I was so enthralled in the story (the book is awesome by the way. Much better than the movie) that I barely noticed the gentleman that came in at the station just before we crossed into Belgium. I thought it odd that he was carrying a coat on a hot summer day. He placed the coat on the overhead rack but he never took the seat next to me or anywhere else in the almost empty train. Instead he opted to stand all the way to the next station.
As we were approaching Antwerp Central I began gathering my belongings only to notice that my backpack was gone. First I thought it may have shifted during the ride but alas, that was not the case. It dawned on me then that I was just robbed.
With wobbling legs and tears in my eyes I dragged myself to the police station at Antwerp Central to tell them about the incident. Not that there was anything they could have done. My backpack and its contents were long gone. The friendly officer handed me paperwork to fill in, one of which was to list the missing items. At that time all I was really sad about was losing my favorite pair of panties, my cute little polka-dot summer dress, some pieces of custom jewelry and worst of all my hair products. Never mess with a black woman’s hair products. How was I suppose to tame the fro for the rest of my stay here?
But then I remembered something that made me go from black to the color of fresh snow. While I had left my most valuable items like my laptop and camera in my brother’s care while I visited the Netherlands for the weekend, I forgot to take my passport out of the backpack I traveled on the plane with. The same backpack that was now in the hands of the man with the coat.
My month in Belgium just went from all fun trips, excursions and exploring the city to waiting on the police report, bi-weekly visits to the passport renewal office and getting special passport photos taken, all while trying to get it all done before my scheduled departure back to St. Maarten.
After a week of sulking I realized there was no point crying over spilled milk or lost passports for that matter and I still made the most of my month in my favorite city in the world, beautiful Antwerp. There is something about being stuck in a place. You get to see and experience so much more than what you planned to. I got to hang out with old friends and made new ones. I spent time with my brother and got to work with him in his design store. I got to explore off the beaten path little places in the city.
Of course it also really sucked to find out that as a Dutch national I could have just took the train to Schiphol and apply for a passport there and gotten it within a week or less instead of the month it took in Belgium. Epic Fail!
Have you ever had something like this happen to you while traveling? If so, share it in the comment section below.