Posts Tagged ‘brussels

21
Feb
14

tickets please!

Getting from Hereford to Luxembourg in a day was never going to be a complete walk in the park – especially without stepping foot on a plane. I’m writing the first part of this as I pull out of a rather grim, miserable looking Brussels train station, slightly embarrassed thanks to a schoolboy error that kind of sums up the difficulties faced travelling across the continent on such a tight itinerary.

Stepping off my first Eurostar experience in Belgium I quickly scanned the departures board and saw a train to Luxembourg departed in fifteen minutes time. I had planned to have a couple of hours in Brussels but the dull weather coupled with the fact I’ve been on the go since 4.15am this morning (some eight and a half hours ago) means I’m just keen to get to my destination, a three and a bit hour direct train from the Belgian capital and pitch up in a bar for some grub and a few pints.

I looked around for an ATM – no joy. What about a ticket desk? Nope, couldn’t see one. Thinking how hard can it be to use the French/Belgian language automated ticket machine I searched for ‘Arlon’ (the last stop in Belgium) to ‘Luxembourg’ tickets. Not difficult, even in a foreign language…..very true, or so I thought. As I entered my pin code and confirmed the purchase I had a moment wondering why exactly was the ticket mentioning Bruxelles Zone when I wasn’t buying an actual ticket to or from that station? I’ve already got my ticket out of here to Arlon thanks to Eurostar so Bruxelles or Brussels or whatever the ticket machine wants to call the place can keep out!

After a quick mull over whether or not I had made an error (clearly I had, but I can be quite stubborn and needed five minutes to admit defeat) I ran downstairs and suddenly located a busy departure lounge full of ticket sales people to all corners of Europe including ones to Luxembourg that now departed in just under ten minutes.

I tried to bargain a refund/exchange with a couple of different people but I was clearly not going to have any instant joy – I’d have to go to another desk to claim any refund for my foolishness. A kind woman sold me a bargain 10.80 Euros Arlon-Luxembourg ticket with the leftover Euro change I had in my bag from previous trips and I sprinted up the platform, slightly red faced and 20 something Euros out of pocket.

That’s not been the only small drama of the day. At 7.30am this morning somewhere near Swindon the National Express driver pulled over thanks to a faulty windscreen wiper. Some 45 minutes later we departed and finally arrived in London just over half an hour late. I’d been frantically searching for flights out of London to Luxembourg that afternoon as a back up plan but I need not worried. With google maps on my phone I located Earls Court Tube station thanks to a fifteen minute jog and got to St Pancras with just minutes spare before I’d have missed my train to the continent.

So as the train heads through Central Belgium and pulls into Ottignies (where?!) its time to sit back, relax and enjoy the scenery*

*the scenery so far seems to be flat, grey, industrious, damp and ever so bleak. A bit like Cwmbran-Pontypool on Arriva Wales West.

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