Soon after our return from Europe, I visited local bike shops and tried to explain what was different about my Belgian ride. For the most part, I got polite nods and confused looks.
At Peak Adventures (on the CSUS campus), I got more... a clear understanding of the European city bike design, a no-jargon explanation of why my vacation ride was so comfortable and interested, engaged expertise.
Best of all, head mechanic Tyler convinced me the foundation of the European bike I coveted was already in my garage. My Specialized Crossroads, bought in 1995 (or so) was a perfectly suitable foundation on which to build.
I added a rack and SKS fenders. I raised the handlebar, bringing my riding position much closer to upright. Thanks to a Shimano recall of my cranks, I added new front and rear derailleurs, cranks, bottom bracket and chainrings (paying only for the rear derailleur).
And now, each day's commute brings back a memory of the misty morning ride from Bruges to Damme. I've added three more bikes to my stable since then, but Original Bike has the distinction of being the only one I feel I built.