In December 2000, I was working in a small legal publishing office in London. I had only started the beginning of the month and was still getting to know everyone.
As December had progressed, we had holiday drinks, holiday lunches and a holiday party. If you are curious for the number of parties we had to celebrate, this was in 2000 and the start of economic troubles were not going to surface for a few more months.
In random conversations, officemates were asking one another what they were doing for the holidays. I simply assumed we had a long weekend. The day before the office closed, I found out it would be closed until the New Year.
Sidenote: Do you hear that US-based companies? Giving your employees the week off between Christmas and New Year’s is totally the way to do it.
I wasn’t expecting a visitor from the States for another week and most of my flatmates had gone home for the holidays. So, what’s a girl to do but get out of town for a few days!
After work that day, I promptly visited the closest student travel agency (my university ID did not have dates attended and since I had just graduated, I still looked just the same). I met with a lovely woman who was tending to my last minute travel needs and I told her that I had never been anywhere on the Continent except a long weekend in Paris with a friend just a few weeks before.
I was open to anywhere. I had three (or four), I can’t remember, days, I’d be traveling alone and anywhere would do.
She suggested Belgium via the Eurostar, and I said let’s book it! My early morning departure was booked for Boxing Day, the 26th of December and I only knew I needed to pack warm clothes.
I spent Christmas in my flat making a scrapbook of my time already spent in London from October til December. We did not have television and the internet was a commodity onlyy found at internet cafes, so I amused myself with the radio and my own creativity. Imagine that!
On Boxing Day, I left on my first solo trip to a place where I knew no one and I didn’t really know much about my destination except Belgian beer and Belgian chocolate…and already I was sold!