Three years ago today I was in Bruges, Belgium, taking in the city and enjoying some Flemish Fries. As I’ve been thinking about my upcoming trip to Europe, my mind keeps coming back to the previous trip I took in 2012. Yesterday, I brought out the notebook that I took with me on the trip and marked the days on my calendar with the names of the cities I was in 3 years ago. Below is what the month of May looks like:

Sorry about the image quality. You’ll have to zoom in to read the writing.
As I was doing this I was also skimming through my notebook and recounting a few of the experiences I had written about. The scattered sentences triggered little memory flashes of various things that happened on the trip. Long train rides, encounters with other tourists, majestic scenery, petty complaints, interesting observations and mundane details all came and went. After I had finished filling in the dates I sat back and looked over the calendar. I knew I had spent more time in certain places than others, but visualizing my time distribution made it really clear what areas got the most attention. Certain cities like Paris, Barcelona and Rome got extended stays while other places like Milan, Ljubljana and Copenhagen had shorter visits. If I could do it all over again I would keep much of the schedule the same, but I would certainly make a number of changes. Certain cities like San Sebastian, Venice and Budapest would have gotten an extra day or two while a few others would have time taken off of them. I might even take one or two cities off the schedule and replaced them with others, but overall I’m pleased with how things turned out.

Today as I look back at what was, I also look forward to what could be. I have a rough schedule of my upcoming trip in my head, but there are still many gaps to be filled and a big decision about the last week or so. One day I’ll repeat yesterday’s exercise and fill in the calendar dates with the places I visited on this trip. Then I’ll sit back and just stare at that calendar, reminiscing over the places I went and the things I saw. This will no doubt spark the planning of the next adventure.

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