There’s a widespread belief that thanks to global positioning systems, it is impossible to get lost in the 21st century.
“Ha!” I say, and “Ha!” I say again.
I’m willing to bet that the people who believe GPS propaganda like that have never stumbled out of the Bruxelles-Central train station into a heavy rainfall after a sleepless overnight transatlantic flight, only to find that the few visible street signs seemed to have been written without using any consonants.
Google Maps said it was a 10-minute walk from the station to my hotel. It took me slightly more than half an hour, but by the time I was finished, I’d become intimately familiar with the many side streets, dead ends, and unlabeled intersections along the way.
For me, getting lost in a new city where I don’t speak the language has always been one of the great pleasures of travel. Your senses are heightened and you become hyper-aware of your surroundings. Unfortunately, that high level of functionality isn’t possible when you haven’t slept in 25 hours. By the time I staggered into the hotel lobby, I wanted nothing more than to take a quick hot shower and have a 14-hour nap.
Which was exactly what I did. And that was my first day in Belgium.
It got better after that.