Monday, June 17, 2013

Belgium


June 17, 2013 8:15 PM—Bruges

Today I felt like I was participating in “The Amazing Race”, but if we actually were, I'm pretty sure we lost. We started off the morning in Bayeux. We had to drive the car back to Caen, which was a half hour drive and then we were catching the train from there to Paris. Before dropping the car off we needed to fill up the gas tank and we thought it would be best to do it when we got to Caen. Unfortunately, we couldn't find a gas station in the entire town. So because we were running out of time, we took it back without filling up. I guess we'll see what they charge to Dad's credit card for the gas.

Next we were taking the train from Caen to Paris. The train was supposed to arrive in Caen at 8:48, but because it was raining it was running a little late and it arrived closer to 9. This small delay was probably the biggest thing that set us back this morning. We ended up arriving in Paris at around 11 AM. When we got to Paris, we needed to buy a train reservation for our next train and we had to get on the train. Unfortunately, the station we arrived at and the station we were leaving from were different, so we had to take the subway across the city. Now it couldn't just simply be one subway. Instead it was three different subways that we had to catch and now we only had about 45 minutes to get our reservation and catch our train. I knew about the difference in stations when I was looking at the train schedules the other day, but I just didn't quite anticipate some of the delays that we ended up having. When we arrived in Paris it was pouring rain, because what is the recurring theme of my trip? RAIN! This is what I think caused the delay in a couple of our subways. Despite the fact that we managed to get to the station and find the train before it left, we didn't have enough time to buy reservations at the ticket counter and they said they couldn't sell them to us on the train. First train missed.

Even though our first train option was going to Lille (France) where we were going to get another train to Bruges, I knew this wasn't the only route to take to Bruges. So I quickly identified a train going to Brussels, from where I was certain we would be able to get a train to Bruges. We quickly went over to that train and tried to buy reservations from the conductor, but unfortunately we had to buy reservations at the ticket counter. The conductor could only sell regular tickets. Second train missed.

From this point, we decided to go over to the ticket counter and let them sort it out. I told them where we were trying to ultimately get to and I asked them what our options were. They told us that there was another train to Brussels leaving in about a half hour. Perfect! But the reservation is 30 Euros per person. Not so perfect. Nonetheless, we pulled out the credit card and tried to forget about it. At that point our only other option was to take 3 different local trains that would get us to Brussels, where we would still have to get a train to Bruges. I think the most unfortunate part of this whole ordeal is that even though the second train that we missed was the same train company as the one we actually took, the first one wasn't and the reservation probably wouldn't have cost nearly as much. The other piece of this was that if we had the reservation already, we would have made it. But we didn't, so we left Paris on the train to Brussels at 12:55 PM. This meant that we finally arrived in Bruges at around 3:30, which was only about an hour later than we had planned on.

Now for Bruges (the only redeeming part of the day)...What a gem! We have only been here for a few hours but I can already tell this is going to be one of my favorites. After we dropped our stuff at our hostel, we went our to find some food. We ended up at this restaurant in the main market square where we got some amazing meatballs. As for the rest of the day, we are just taking it easy and recovering from our long frustrating travel day.

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