“Sorry this train does not go to Liege, you should have gotten off an hour ago when the train split. You are now in Genk. We go back and you will be in Maastricht in another 2 hours”
After 10 hours of travel, this is not what I wanted to hear. I was already imagining putting my feet up and catching a nap in cosy Maastricht, instead, we got on the train from Brussels airport and ended up sitting in the wrong end of the train.
You see, after landing in Brusells, we were supposed to catch a series of trains via Brussells-Midi and Liege, on to Maastricht. I saw no network maps at the Brussels airport, so I went and asked the person at the Belgian Rail (B-Europe) counter. He firmly shook his head at our plans and directed us to take a train to Leuven, then to Liege and onto Maastricht.
After reaching Leuven, we boarded a train labeled for Liege. We got on. I knew the journey is approx. 1.5-2.0 hours, so we both spaced out a little and didn’t concern ourselves too much. After 1.25 hours, I began to get worried, but couldn’t find any where to look up a map. I convinced myself to wait it out. Then the ticket check came to verify our travel, and she gave me the news above.
Already sleep and food-deprived, I was now genuinely upset at our screw-up. They made the announcement when the train was splitting only in Dutch/Flemish (not even in French) and we obviously didn’t have a clue. The staff at Brussels also didn’t inform us, so we were dumb-founded when this happened.
The first thing I noticed after we got out of the train station was: "Holy crap! That's a lot of bikes"...
I knew Netherlands is the most bike-friendly place, but it still shocks you...makes us Canadians feel like being alien to cycling as a culture!
Went to a local grocery store, and believe it or not, these are chocolates!!
But my air miles were expiring, and we were both getting sick of not having actually travelled anywhere in the world, so we made an abrupt decision in August to visit Netherlands!!
Surabhi was going to be in Maastricht for work and that would mean a place to stay! We really couldn’t ignore the chance, so we bit the bullet.