Who doesn’t want to be a smooth traveler, nonchalantly moving between countries and customs as if doing so were as simple as paying for groceries? The thing is that when everything proceeds without much of a hitch, the time just kind of passes. You never really get to feel like Jason Bourne. Rather, it’s the Clark Griswold moments that are memorable. Yesterday it was Bourne as far as catching trains—Mainz to Frankfurt Flughafen to Koln to Brussels to Antwerp, although to be honest it’s not that difficult. It was Griswold, however, during my morning walk around Mainz. It’s not that big of a place and I had a good map. Yet all of a sudden I was lost. Not in any kind of jeopardy lost, but lost all the same. When I have to wander, I don’t really mind losing my bearings for an hour or two, but in this case I was due to check out of my hotel. Germans don’t even jaywalk, let alone blow past checkout time without notice, and so I got a little anxious. Quick-stepping it through the cobbled streets, I finally got oriented and was relieved to meet a hotel receptionist who said it was no problem and “please no hurry.”

Today it was a marvelous lunch in a centuries-old courtyard in Antwerp before dinner of a banana and a chocolate bar. Tomorrow: to Brugge.

AuthorDavid Wolman