Belgium, England, Europe

My dubious love affair with the Eurostar

Four hours ago I was ready to sing the praises of the Eurostar. Now I’m not so sure.

I just arrived in Brussels after my maiden voyage on the high-speed train that connects London to Paris & Brussels and I’m already thinking of ending my relationship.

Let me explain.

My affair began last night (sorry Boyfriend!) as I started packing for my weekend adventure to Brussels. As I put items in my backpack, I suddenly remembered that I was taking the train and not Ryanair or Easyjet and had no weight restriction on my luggage. Delighted, I immediately, grabbed my laptop and added it to my pack. (Allowing me to write this now.)

My crush grew as I remembered that I could also bring full-size bottles with me and not have to place liquids in a clear-plastic bag. I took advantage of this to pack a bottle of cough syrup. (Hopefully, ensuring I don’t keep any dorm-mates awake tonight.)

I woke up this morning eager to get to King’s Cross to begin my journey. On the way, I experienced underground trouble (namely the Hammersmith and Shitty Line never came!) So after grabbing a taxi with 20 minutes until my train left, I arrived at King’s Cross to find out that it was too late to get through security. I had missed my train.

But like any good partner, Eurostar stepped in to save the day. The woman at the counter simply put me on the next train, which left in an hour, no charge. Her exact words were, “Go through security, grab a coffee and relax. Everything is fine.”

At this point I should mention that I did not realize there was airport-like security and border controls for the Eurostar, so make sure to arrive at least 45 minutes early!

Anyway, this is where things started to sour a bit. The one hour mark came and went and I was still not boarding the train. It took another 15 minutes until we were allowed on the train. Definitely not bad, but not ideal, especially as I was already an hour late!

Things picked up again, when I discovered that I had a four-seater pod entirely to myself. The brown and grey zebra-striped chairs are also quite comfortable.

For most of the journey we were zipping along fine, only about 10 minutes behind schedule, that is until we arrived at our destination, Midi station. Or should I say, until we were right outside Midi station. It seems Brussels is having track problems and only one track works for both trains arriving and departing the station. We ended up sitting just beyond the platform for almost half an hour. (Quite a long time on a two-hour train ride!)

Now the last bit is not strictly Eurostar’s fault, but as they arrive at Midi station, I’m chalking it up to them too. Midi station has the worst customer service I have ever seen! While waiting in the line with 20 people ahead of me, the ticket booth’s computer system crashed. Rather than telling us, they just continued to hold us in line.

After 30 minutes someone finally asked what the hold-up was and they said (in French), Well, obviously, Madam, my computer isn’t working.

I’m finally in my room though now. Only 2 hours and 15 minutes late. Welcome to Brussels, indeed!

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