This morning I got up early after a night where I didn't sleep very well. Not that I usually sleep well on the night before a big trip. When I have had to plan the trip myself, I am usually more nervous than when we go on a tour. And this trip took some fairly intricate planning so I am a bit more nervous. In my thirties I found all this was not so difficult. And that is odd because we didn't have the internet and I had to look everything up in books, write letters, get checks from banks, and do all sorts of complicated things. Now I can just go online, pay with my debit card, send email, print out maps, tickets, etc. And yet it all seems so complicated. Just age I expect, although in an age of European transit strikes, airlines that are not always on-time, and many restrictions on luggage, etc., you never know. The best-laid plans, as Robert Burns said.
On the other hand, I really have learned how to pack. I used to take a lot of stuff and this morning I am looking at a small suitcase and a small purse. If I didn't have to take the CPAP machine I would really have very little for a month-long trip that includes a week-long bike ride. Certainly there is much less than I took for the GITAP ride. Of course I am not camping but I am going for much longer. Being able to bring my books electronically helps. Knowing I don't need a lot of clothes helps. I have learned a lot about packing in the last 29 years since our first trip to England in 1980.
Today we will take the bus to the IT, then take the van to O'Hare. We fly Iberia to Madrid and then on to Brussels where we will take a train to Bruges. Our hotel is Bruges At Night and is close to the center. I am looking forward to exploring Bruges in warmer weather than last December and seeing the Charles the Bold exhibit as well as taking the canal boat cruise. If we have time, we may take a day trip to Ghent to see the Van Eyck altarpiece. I also want to be able to see the Adorne sites that we weren't able to see on the last trip. If I am going to do the Bruges novel, I will need to soak up as much atmosphere as possible in the time that I have. And while my paper in Venice in April is on cultural identity in Venice, I may be able to bring in the Adorno and Arnolfini families as brief examples as well.
For now the main thing is to finish getting ready and hope that I haven't forgotten anything. But, in our consumer society, I can probably buy anything I have forgotten!