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Last updated : Nov 2009
Brussels, Belgium
Rating: (5.0) (1 Vote)

Brussels, Belgium
June 01, 2001

Pros: None
Cons: Fully booked trains!

Breakfast in London, lunch in Paris and dinner in Milan - that was the empty promise of a smooth-talking Gino I once knew. He claimed that his friend would take us around Europe in his family jet. Bah!

Well, with a bit of bad luck and stupidity from my part, I got close enough to fulfilling this dream on my second day in Europe. Salami bagette in Paris, quiche and eclair in Brussels, grilled sausage, potatoes and sauerkraut in Köln! It really was not as glamourous as it sounds. Most of my day was spent either on the train or in the train station.

[from journal - it may be a bit sloppy]
I'm reminded today of the hassles of backpacking. The 8:55AM train to Köln was booked and so were the next 5 trains. A group of four American girls were in the same situation so I sat and slept next to them during the three-hour wait for the train to Brussels. Once arrived, I decided to take advantage of the 1 1/2 hour wait for the connecting train to visit the Grand-Place. The guy working at the tourist information booth showed me how to take the next train to Gare central (it's the quickest way of getting to the centre and it was also free since I had a train pass). Once out, I approached an older lady who happened to be originally from Australia. She showed me to the Grand-Place. I walked around once, took a couple of pictures, tried to learn the history of the area at the tourist centre but they were only interested in selling me a brochure, and met three seniors from England who thought that Toronto was the cleanest city they had ever seen. I walked through narrow cobblestoned Rue des Bouchers, a cool street lined with restaurants and terrasses, where waiters stand at the door inviting you in.

Satisfied and highly confident, I went to the wrong train station (there are three in Brussels) and missed my 14:25 train to Köln. It was a long two-hour wait with no backpackers in sight to mingle with. Ah, all the lost precious time!

On the train I talked to English school teacher Patricia who has lived in Belgium for 30 years (hey Mark, she studied in Birmingham in the mid-60's). Then this German student sat next to me. His name was Jörg. He told me where to go out at night. I finally arrive to Köln (5 hours late) after a long day of travelling.