Archive for the 'Irritations' Category

Why I Hate Brussels-Midi

31 March, 2012

Bad food, bad shops and plenty of filth,
Brussels-Midi – a vital transfer hub – is vying to be the worst major train station in the EU. My experiences today follow (and were not helped by Eurostar shambles…).

Want some classic Belgian frites, slathered in mayo and really the best in the world? No! Want some horrible undercooked pizza from awful NYC chain Sbarro? Yes!

Want some delicious Belgian pastries or other local specialty? No! Want a grotty sandwich from US chain Subway, whose outlets have the same vomit-like smell worldwide? Yes!

Want a nice little box of classic Brussels bon-bons (arguably world’s best) to slip into your petit baggage? No! Want an overly large and over-priced family-size box or truffles? Yes! (The station shops had a, er, sweet little box of tasty Neuhaus pralines but they were polywrapped in threes.

Having found nothing to eat or buy at Brussels-Midi, I went to check in for my Eurostar train to London. Recalling my first trip to Russia, it only took 70 minutes. I enjoyed four queues: 1) only one gate open for ticket check, 2) Belgian cop who demanded and then ignored my proffered passport, 3) UK border cop check, who said they were running an Olympics test and scrutinized every passport as if it held the clue to next week’s Lotto numbers, 4) airline-style security to make certain I don’t high jack the train in Calais and demand we take the tracks to Cuba.

Okay, so I finally escaped the appropriately acronymed BM and write this on my iPhone using the WordPress app while zipping west on Eurostar. We’re only 30 minutes late… Bon voyage!