Wednesday, March 12, 2014

St Pancras International to Brussels Schuman, via Gare du Midi

So, I'm in Brussels, and it's dark. It was surprisingly dark outside the train, as a dark and gloomy sky 'welcomed' me to France. Frankly, there wasn't much point looking out of the window unless one's life is so depressing that looking out at a vista like that might cheer you up. You'd have to be pretty depressed though...

I did manage to find a pair of vacant seats, which allowed me to escape my neighbour's snoring (something that Ros, at least, will find vaguely amusing) and gave me a window seat to enjoy. Or not, as it turned out.

One of the things that makes Eurostar so attractive is the city to city aspect of travel. Many years ago, when I used to travel to Brussels regularly, the fastest option was to fly from London City Airport to Zaventum, but even with the ten minute check-in that City Airport offered, you still needed at least three and a half hours to get from city centre to city centre, assuming that everything ran like clockwork - which it seldom did. Eurostar can cover the same ground in under three hours easily, even allowing for the minimum twenty minutes for check-in, security and passport control at St Pancras International.

And, given the increasing time required to clear security at airports, and the time taken to get to and from airports, connections from Brussels, in particular, Lille and Paris make a number of destinations as convenient by train as they would be by air - Amsterdam, Antwerp, Rotterdam, Cologne and Lyon, to name but a few. Better still, the experience, especially in first class, is more like travel than a glorified bus ride, as economy class flying usually feels like these days.

If you're organised, first class train tickets aren't even that expensive - I paid €99 to get from Brussels to Hamburg, and just €69 for the Hamburg to Copenhagen leg, which are both pretty reasonable, and the differential between second class and first isn't that great.

But it's time for dinner, and beer, so if you'll excuse me...

No comments: