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Belgium

Brussels - Travel Tips

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When in Brussels...

When in Brussels...

I flew to and from Brussels (from Edinburgh) with Brussels Airlines (the successor to Sabena, for those who can remember before 9-11). The cost was £104 return, with hand luggage only. Both flights left a little late, but arrived more or less on time.

Otherwise, they were pretty good. Perhaps I have rose tinted spectacles of course, as Sabena was a favourite.

I used the SNCB airport trains to travel to and from the city centre. It is important to know which station you want to use in the city - Centrale (close to Grand Place), Midi (where many Thalys trains arrive and depart) or Nord. The train costs €8.90 each way to any of those stations, and runs about every 20 minutes with a journey time of about 20 minutes.

SNCB Cool

SNCB Cool

Over the years I have stayed in so many Brussels hotels it makes my head spin, but like most cities, location is important. For this trip I wanted a place in the city centre and close to one of the railway stations. I fixed on something near Gare Centrale as I know there are lots of places to eat around there.

When it came to price and value for money, the Novotel was the one I chose. I am in their loyalty programme, so that usually gives a 10% discount. It was their hotel at rue du Marché Aux Herbes, 100 metres from the Gare Centrale. The room cost me €127, without breakfast.

Novotel

Novotel

Breakfast was going to cost €22. I found it difficult to imagine what kind of breakfast is worth that much, especially as I would be out of the hotel for 8am to catch a train. I opted for 2 croissants from a nearby bakery.

Dinner on the evening I arrived was quick, cheap and easy - a small tray at an Exki close to the hotel.

Posted by IainT 11:18 Archived in Belgium Tagged trains restaurants transport belgium flights brussels airlines brexit Comments (0)

Brussels

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Galeries Royales

Galeries Royales

Back at the end of March I took a trip to Dublin and Belfast to celebrate my freedom of movement while I still could, ahead of the UK’s promised crash out of the EU. As an aside, the Brits who drool over a hard or no deal Brexit should be locked up for their own safety.

Well, April arrived without a Brexit. Next deadline - the end of October (but it looks as if that has been postponed as well).

This time I decided on Köln as my destination, via Brussels and - dare I say it - Krefeld.

Revisiting Brussels is always great for me. It is like going to visit an old friend. For several years during the 90s I visited the city regularly. I was on the management board of a multinational joint venture based in Brussels, and also had lobbying to do - mostly at the EU Commission.

Brussels Dawn

Brussels Dawn

The whole journey there was just like an attack of déja vu. Brussels Airlines to Brussels - it used to be Sabena until the 9-11 economic shock killed it off. The SNCB train from the airport to Gare Centrale. The short walk to my hotel.

SNCB Airport (semi) Express

SNCB Airport (semi) Express

Just opposite the station are 4 modern hotels built around a square - Ibis, Hilton, Carrefour de L’Europe and a Novotel. Until now I had stayed in 3 out of 4, and this time I stayed in the Novotel to make up the full set.

Novotel

Novotel

Usually it would have been outside my budget but Brussels hotels are often full all week and then quieter at weekends, so cheaper deals come up. I knew I was unlikely to need their breakfast with an 8.30 train to catch in the morning, and at €22 it was going to be easy to find a sensible alternative.

Fast (Green) Food

Fast (Green) Food

Between getting to the hotel about 8pm and that early morning train, I had little time to do more than eat and sleep, but just being in those familiar places was really enjoyable.

Posted by IainT 10:56 Archived in Belgium Tagged belgium brussels brexit Comments (0)

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