After my coffee this morning I went back to the hotel to get my bags, checkout and head up to the station.
The hotel just after checkout
Amsterdam station is unlike any other in Europe I’ve been through, you need to scan your ticket to get on or off the platform concourse area, and once there, there is no digital board listing the departure platforms. I couldn’t find the paper listing anywhere so had to ask at the information desk. Of course my train leaves from the last platform quite a walk away. I grab an early sandwich here rather than taking it on the train with me.
The train arrives on time, departs on time and gets to Brussels on time which overall has been a rarity. This train is as fast as advertised just shy of 300kph. The only frustrating thing is the other passengers who don’t seem to be able to read the seat numbers against their ticket and hold up everyone else boarding. Hell really is other people sometimes.
The train is comfortable, only real complaint is no in seat power, which is super surprising for a first class high speed service. Thankfully I have my battery.
It’s horrendously hot for this part of the world and the aircon on the train is only barely coping. Thankfully it’s only a 2hr trip.
There are plenty of wind turbines and after a while I realise we have crossed the border into Belgium as on one of the generators it announces Wind4Flanders.
The most surprising thing really is the lack of green due to the heatwave. After a month of 30+ days with little rain everything is brown. Blink and I could swear I was on the Western Line in Sydney given the outlook. The occasional amazing church with their spires gives it away that I’m not at home.
Once in Brussels I eventually find the luggage storage area and where the Eurostar leaves from and attempt to store my luggage. I need 5 euros in coins and only have 3.50 so I have to purchase something to get coins. Do this and all is good until I then need to go to the loo and remember that in most of Europe to spend a penny it will cost a Euro ! I find a machine this time that converts notes to coins. Now I’m back to a stack of coins I won’t need. The cycle of currency waste continues….
Walking outside the station I’m hassled by two beggars in less than 1 minute. I was going to walk up to Palais de Justice but change my mind as it’s a 25 minute walk in 36c and decide to get a cold drink instead
Warm day here….
Walking outside I see this thing against the side of the wall in the middle of nowhere that looks just like a toilet. 2 seconds later a passerby uses it and removes any doubt. I guess it saves people just wizzing against the wall anywhere
Inside I find a cafe and get a cold iced coffee and am reminded I’m in the French speaking world as the coffee it terrible. Most station coffee is rubbish but it’s hard to mess up an iced coffee, even Starbucks do a decent iced coffee
You know you are in Belgium when the vending machines do waffles !
The Eurostar is again having issues (possibly heat related) delayed over an hour and a half out of Brussels. it’s reliability has certainly decreased over the past 12 months given my recent problems with them. They do promote themselves as better than flying but add in the delays and the now airport like security check and queues its not as clear cut. I did consider getting a ferry from Amsterdam to the UK, I’m thinking that would have been the better option. They announced we can claim compensation after 48 hours.
The queue behind me is way way worse. At least here in Brussels the waiting area is properly air conditioned unlike Paris.
finally on board. Was starting to worry they might cancel it
Once it gets going it really gets going. One slight bonus with the delay is that I won’t be dealing with peak hour on the tube getting from St Pancras to Paddington.
Hundreds of kilometres of fencing at Calais to prevent illegal immigration though the tunnel. At the section where the fencing starts it’s protected by two border guards.
9pm finally back in the UK. Flight leaves in the morning for Singapore