Making Brussels Interesting – with TravelMagic and Brussels Airlines
- Travel? TravelMagic!
- Saturday Morning fun and games
- SN2050 Birmingham Airport to Brussels National Airport
- TravelMagic overview (THIS SECTION)
- The Pantone Hotel
- A Day in Brussels
- Back to Brussels Airport
- SN2047 Brussels National Airport to Birmingham Airport
On arriving in Brussels, we were bussed from the hard stands to the terminal. Not an eventful ride, and thankfully quick as it dropped the planeload of people off near Immigration.
So… that way?
Immigration was a bit sluggish, but I was soon quickly enough. Customs was dealt with quickly (even if the EU Blue lane was shut, forcing EU passengers to go through the Red or Green lanes) – not that the immigration officers seemed to mind as they were chatting away to themselves.
Now normally when I travel to the USA or Asia, I tend to switch off the mobile data and rely on Wifi-sniffing for data (as outside EU roaming prices are… not cheap per Mb with Vodafone UK with their consumer tariffs.)
However – I’m in Europe. And this is a good thing as the excess is £3 per day for access to my normal network minutes, text allowance… and DATA, meaning I could use my phone as intended.
Europe at work for once, and addressing a consumer need – rather than judging how curved a banana should be.
This would be useful as I’d need to be using GPS guidance with Google Maps (yes, Apple Maps exist, but I don’t want to get lost), and also to annoy the world with whilst I’m out and about.
With time now at a premium, and TravelMagic starting, I made a Beeline to the SNCB Station on floor -1, and brought a €7.80 ticket to Gare Midi from a machine (it seems SNCB has got with the 21st Century and have brought machines that can issue tickets in different languages – and can accept plastic that doesn’t originate in Belgium), and rushed downstairs.
And no, I haven’t lost my passport
There were two options departing within minutes of each other- the local service and an Inter-Regional service departing within 2 minutes of each other. Whilst the Local service looked like the train had been around the tracks one too many times, the Inter-Regional looked comparatively modern… and more comfortable. So I went for the IR service.
A local train for local people.
(And there’s no picture of the IR Train – I forgot if I was honest- although I remember it being an AM96 akin to – http://www.belrail.be/F/fiches/emu/index.php?type=am96– the big rubber diaphragm on the front is a big aide-mémoire)
Inside the IR Train
The train itself was nothing special for an inter-regional service, with little fixed side tables. No power or Wifi of sorts to be seen – but effective for the short to midhaul journies these trains do.
The train pulled out on time, and soon it was trundling towards Midi, stopping at Brussels North and Central – picking up a lot of passengers in the process as the train was heading for heading Ghent after it left Brussels.
Although the train did do its best as it crawled towards Brussels-Nord (I think the last few miles to Brussels Nord was done at a crawl due to congestion at the station throat), eating into conference time.
Heading towards Midi
The train pulled into Midi, and I took my leave of the service wandering to my next challenge: The Brussels Metro network.
Again, the machines are simple to use, but are either coins only or credit card. As I was out of coins, it was off to Kiosk to pick up my €2 Jump 1 ticket – for the few stops I needed to get to Louise. After validating my ticket at the machine, it unhappily spat the ticket back at me, and let me through the barrier gate.
The metro came along, and I boarded a well-patronised service (with someone playing some awful music in the background) for the short journey to Louise. The train itself was one of the older models used, so wasn’t overly well lit, and the flip dot displays weren’t lit so you couldn’t see the destination.
Almost makes you wonder why they didn’t install LED displays in them.
Still, it was easy to navigate and ride, and got me to Louise.
Exiting the station, it wasn’t exactly difficult to spot where the hotel (it’s one of the taller hotels on Boulevard De Waterloo, and I found my way in, and to the 27th Floor to check in conference
Travel Magic 2013 – A Précises
I’m not going into the content of the talks… to be honest, you should had been there for them if you want that. Nor am I going to score or review the speakers whom all were excellent. I’m going to talk about the experience instead.
I made it to TravelMagic – a bit late, and settled in to a good day of talks. Soon enough, I caught up with fellow Boarding Area bloggers Lucky (of One Mile at a Time) and Tim (of Points to Be Made). Together, we settled into a day of talking, learning and.. of course.. food!
Of course, the views from the 27th Floor weren’t bad either.
And of course a certain Mr Lucky talking
The event had lots of good ideas, and lots of social interaction that allowed me to share ideas, and get new ideas, and come to the universal conclusion that not many people like SkyTeam airlines when it comes to rewards ;). That and there are plenty of ways to get good rewards – and how to utilise the tools that are out there.
The host venue was gracious, and there was serious work that had been done to bring the hotel up to a high standard, with good temperature control, surroundings, and the stroke of putting the conference venue on the top floors where it can show off the city of Brussels.
Afterwards, there were drinks… and dinner – more time to talk, idea-swap, and think about how our travels can be maximised for points – both earning and burning.
However, by the time the day was up, it was late for me – with minimal sleep the night before – I thanked my hosts, said thanks to Time, and headed away from the last round of drinks for the short 10 minute walk to The Pantone Hotel…
Next: The Pantone Hotel