Brugge Trip Report- The Bad.

Time flies when you are having fun: heck, it flies even when you aren’t. We’ve been back from Belgium two months now and I still haven’t put up a post on my blog.. I guess I could claim that nothing has happened- but that would be a lie. I could say that I’ve been busy which only raises questions about my priorities. Finally I could just give the whole idea of posting on my status a pass and plow forward. I’ve decided to come clean and confess that I’ve got a flaw. I can’t multitask.

Brussells Airport Hell

Brussells Airport Hell

It’s not the worst flaw I can think of. It doesn’t keep my from chipping away at my to-do list. It just slows me down because I get lost in the weeds when I try to tackle more than one thing at a time. Combine that flaw with an inability to recognize important tasks and give them priority over urgent ones, sometimes a turtle is faster than me. What keeps me from total failure is dogged persistence, my wife calls it bullheadedness. If I start something, I will finish it. Just don’t expect it tomorrow.

I can meet deadlines, pay bills on time, show up for appointments and the like because those deadlines are real and have consequences that I recognize and fear. When it is me that sets the deadlines, those deadlines lose urgency and I have a harder time staying on target (and who is afraid of me?). My inability to stay on target has kept me from posting since returning from the trip and not a lack of interest.

It is not because the trip wasn’t fantastic. It was over the top in many ways starting with three days in cosmopolitan Istanbul and ending with three days in gritty Brussels. The meat in our vacation sandwich was beautiful, peaceful Brugge Belgium, the Venice of the north.
As I suggested above, the stars seemed to align on this trip. There were no major roadblocks or problems and we were blown away by the cities we visited. The potential problems were ones that we could control and didn’t but even those worked out alright. We connected to all our flights and no uncontrollables appeared. I will address some of the delights of our trip at another time. My purpose today is to underscore the importance of not trusting the judgment of others as you move along.

Our only near-problem on the entire trip was connecting for our flight home in Brussels. Every difficulty could have been avoided by better judgment and I take full responsibility for our difficulties and almost missing the flight. Here’s what happened.

We were staying in downtown Brussels and decided that we would take a taxi from the hotel to the airport the morning of our flight. We considered transferring to a hotel at the airport the day before the flight but rejected that idea as an unnecessary complication. (We discovered that the airport hotel was actually just across the unloading area at the airport which would have made catching the flight very simple.)
My next mistake was trusting the hotel staff to:
1. Tell me how much time we needed to get to the airport.
2. Arrange a taxi for the time requested.
When the woman at the desk arranged the taxi, she told us that two hours was sufficient. I thought that three was more reasonable but since I had never been in Brussels before I accepted the two hours time. Then when we appeared in the lobby, the taxi was not available and it took another half hour to get going. While there are freeways in Belgium, there is none that makes the trip from downtown Brussels easy. We arrived at the airport much too close to our departure time to deal with customs and immigration, let alone finding the floating Air Canada check in desk. We got our bags checked just in the nick of time and the rest of the trip was smooth sailing.

At a number of times in the day before our flight I could have made our check in easier. I could have moved us to the airport for the final night. I could have scheduled the taxi an hour earlier. I did not because I wanted to believe that the world was simple and trusted that someone else would care as much as me about my comfort.
I won’t make that mistake again and I hope that my experience will help you avoid any similar problems. On the positive side, on this trip I wasn’t robbed once.

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