Tales From The Train to Brussels
Today I made a day trip to the beautiful Belgian city of Antwerp. Between the amazing St. Paul’s Church and the city’s stunning train station, the trip was well worth it.
As I was sitting on the train waiting for it to move on my way back to Brussels, a freckled 19 year old girl with a backpack and a guitar sat behind me. She was dressed like you would expect a Bohemian musician to dress while backpacking through Europe. Her lip rings and ripped clothing were almost stereotypical.
While she didn’t say anything to me at first, it was clear that something was bothering her. She had the look of a scared child. Someone who was completely overwhelmed. I know that look, because I have been there.
After a few minutes of silence, she finally asked me about Brussels Midi station and explained she was supposed to get off there, but got off in Antwerp by accident. She had a train to Paris to catch in an hour and she had to get there TONIGHT.
As we pulled out of the station, we figured out her issue and calculated that she would arrive in Brussels with less than 5 minutes for a connection. 5 minutes is enough. It is Paris after all.
With the problem solved I went back to listening to the Daily Show podcast on my phone. About 10 minutes before reaching Brussels we somehow began a conversation. (She did 99% of the talking and I listened!) She told me that she is from British Columbia and has been traveling around Europe for a month. She only has two days left before heading home and needs to spend all of that time in Paris.
We then got to talking about her parents and how they think she should have saved her money instead of spending it on this trip. Finally we talked about Amsterdam. She told me about the red light district & transgender prostitutes. Apparently she was told that a high percentage of the Dutch are attracted to them.
Of course at this point she naturally had to start talking about drugs. She explained that she doesn’t like “pot” , but detailed her experiences taking mushrooms. The first time she did it cautiously and ended up laughing for hours. For the second mushroom experience, she took them with chocolate. Apparently chocolate amplifies the effects.
That second experience sounded was more intense. The world seemed brighter. Music seemed better and she began seeing things. Of It wasn’t all good though. She told me that at one point she began shaking, but her friends were there to help. Oh good, “She learned her lesson”, I thought. Then she began to describe experiences number three & four!
Pretty soon we began approaching Brussels station and I said goodbye to her. She seemed like a sweet girl and I’m sure she will be fine. I had two takeaways from this experience. Firstly I feel old because my son is just a few years younger than her and secondly I feel good that she thought I was young enough to share all of this with.
Oh travel. How I love thee! Happy Saturday.