12 11 2009

That is the first good laugh I’ve had in weeks.
I am on the train now (behind bicycle, my preferred method of transport). Just.

I finished a (rather tiring) few weeks in Antwerp. I found the city utterly uninspiring. That could be partly because I was working night shift and only managed to grab a glance of the city on a drab, grey morning I wasn’t working. That and the refinery, which although interesting, is hardly a tourist destination. Miranda and Maurice have resigned to me turning up one day, neither of us knowing which day it was going to be (for those back home, I met Maurice and Miranda twice, randomly, in South America. Yes, more cyclists). They said come and visit. They’re great people. I got close, so I am.

Best way to get there: train (I don’t have my bike, and I do have my work clothes). So I got dropped at the train station. Buying a ticket, the seller tells me I’m super lucky, a train is just leaving, and has a tight connection in Brussels giving me a fast journey. But I have to leave. Now.
So I did. I rather sprinted to the platform, suitcase wheels sliding on the corners. Got to the train and the doors wouldn’t open. I could hardly notice the train was actually leaving (since I was still moving when I was pressing the open door button). Turns out I’m not so lucky after all 😦
Oh, but I was. A new timetable suggested that I would have about 45 minutes in Brussels. Boring… But the train station is in the city centre, I’ll just go for a wander (suitcase and all). I saw a spire, figured there’d be a cathedral underneath it and headed that way. Lucky for me, and my appreciation of Belgium. To be honest, I don’t know if I’ve visited Brussels before, but it takes a lot for a city to make me say “wow” out loud. Ok, not that much, but the old square is impressive, anything but uninspiring. Old, large stately buildings, intricate stonework, gold leaf, statues. A castle visible above the roofs. A palace on a hill… What an old city should contain. No wonder the politicians of Europe like it here.

So that was good. If I’d thought about it, I should have planned a longer stop over, even the central section could take a few hours of exploring. I snapped a few photos, marvelled at the buildings. Heard French again. Made a mental note to come back. But ~30mins later I thought I should head back and try to find my platform, I don’t want to cut it too fine. Still ten minutes ahead of the time I was given when I got the ticket in Antwerp and just as I enter the station, I hear announced the train I want to catch. A glance at the sign and I realise the time of the train is… Err, now?. More sprinting. Stairs. Train pulling up as I get there. Didn’t want to cut it too fine? How about 20 seconds? For some reason I found that hilarious (not sure what people thought of the laughing running Australian with suitcase sliding around the corners)

Lucky once. Lucky twice. Now if Miranda remembers that I’ll be at the station, I think I can call it a [good] day.

Update: 10mins from the station, and the clouds are lifting. The sun is, while not shining, at least trying to break through. That may be three. I’ve got buckleys of meeting Miranda at the station now.



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