Sunday, September 11, 2016

Giving Directions in Foreign Lands

One of the things that happens to me sometimes when I am traveling abroad, and both amuses and delights me, is when I am taken for a local by other travelers and asked by them for directions.  It further amuses me (and also makes me supremely satisfied) when I am not only asked for directions while in somebody else’s city but also am capable of answering correctly.

Thus happened to me in Brussels, where I was yesterday, and it’s just one of those little things that can really make my whole day.  I have always had a good head for directions, and one of the things that I enjoy most when I am in a foreign city is to try to get my bearings and simply walk around to experience the environment and try to get a bit of a feel for what it would feel like to live there as a local.  So with a day to spend in Brussels, I eschewed the museums and the Mannekin Pis, and instead went for a long walk down through the Bois de la Cambre on the South side of the city, then walked back in near the center and took the metro out to wander through the Parc de Laeken on the other side, near the beautiful madness of the Atomium.

Chalet Robinson in Bois de la Cambre, Brussels, Belgium
Bois de la Cambre, Brussels, Belgium
Atomium, Brussels, Belgium
Leopold I Monument, Brussels, Belgium

Being asked for directions further affirms the feelings of enjoyment that I get from such wanderings, because it means that somebody sees me as not being out of place.  Being able to answer further strokes my ego for reasons that I suppose are rather obvious.

I’d like to think this vanity is not a problem, and indeed as such things go, I believe that it is relatively harmless.  Still, my joy is real, and so is my self-aware concern that perhaps I should be more concerned with how I choose to feed my ego.

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