Liege is often overlooked for many Belgium visitors - but it was the first place on our list.
The classic question posed by all travellers at one point or another is if you can ever really go back again. Is it ever a good idea to revisit a location from your past, a location that once meant so much to you? On our recent trip to Belgium, Ryan had the chance to confront these questions head on. As a Rotary Exchange student at the age of 17, Ryan completed his grade 12 studies in Liege. For a year, he soaked up local culture, polished his French speaking and beer drinking skills, and was introduced to a new world of travel. Fast forward 20 years, and he finally got his chance to return to Liege.
Ryan tells us what it's like to retrace your footsteps two decades after the fact.
Can I really go "home" again? Well, yes.... and no. I left Vanessa back at the hotel and walked from memory to where I went to school (beside the beautiful staircase in our Liege post), and from there through the side streets and alleys to the pub where I used to go every Wednesday afternoon - the Pot Au Lait. We revisited on a Wednesday, and while I had hoped to run into other exchange students, it was not to be. Still, I ordered my "usual" - a pint of Jupiler - and enjoyed the surroundings. It felt like 20 years ago (and it was!) - but it also felt like yesterday. I was rather conflicted emotionally. So happy to be back again, yet also knowing I couldn't BE back. So it was the same, yet entirely different.
As it should be. Time moves on. I'm older, hopefully a little wiser, and while Liege was the city and time of my life that shaped me more than any other, it was only one step on a path that led me to where I am now. After a couple of pints, and realizing that it was ok that things weren't as romanticized as I remembered, I made a decision. I had originally wanted to revisit Liege on my own. To relive, rediscover and remember. I discovered that what I really wanted was to share a big piece of my past, and so I went and got Vanessa and showed her "my" Liege. It's what I should have done originally, and I'm happy I realized that in time. By bringing her in, I got to relive a lot of happy memories through story (and pints), and was able to let go of any lingering sadness.
I will always have a soft spot in my heart for Liege. I will revisit, even if I can't go back again. But the next trip will be all about making new memories, and not just living in the past adventures of my 18 year old self. Seeing Liege again gave me exactly what I wanted to get out of it, even though it did so in a completely unexpected way.
Do you want to retrace Ryan's footsteps in Liege or make new memories of your own? Either way, you have to head to the Pot Au Lait! This hard-to-find funky pub is located at 9 Rue Souers des Hasque and new faces are always welcome to mingle with the longstanding loyal patrons. No matter how long you stay, the colorful and unusual decor will be sure to make an impression.
Looking to learn more about Liege? These articles can help!
In Love With Liege: Day 5 of Our Round The World Trip
Flavors of Liege for the Fickle Foodie