A Travellerspoint blog

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Short week

long commute

Decided that as the plane was a little expensive I'd give the train a go

WRONG

The journey from Worle to Bristol was on time and uneventful which gave no indication of the hassle to come

Again the train at BTM was on time but 5 minutes in and there was an announcement that there was a delay at Bath Spa due to engineering works, which I thought no problem I've got 4 hours to get to St Pancras for the Eurostar.

Got about 2 miles from the station and we sat there for 30 minutes, again thought no problem I've still got 3 and a half hours to get to St Pancras, off we went and 10 minutes later another announcement the engineering works at Bath had backed up several trains and we would have to wait in a queue to get into Chippenham, so sat again for 15 minutes outside the station and off we went again, got to Reading and guess what - yep another announcement "sorry but because of engineering works ant Bath we are in another queue" and another 10 or 15 minutes wait, which meant by the time I got into Paddington I had an hour to get to the Eurostar, which should have been about 15 minutes away.

As I was having one of those days, I stood on the platform expecting the next tube in a couple of minutes or so, but after waiting for about 30 minutes there was an anouncement (because I haven't had enough of those today) that the Central line was closed due to signal failure and had to get to the Metropolitan line so I could get to St Pancras.

The upshot to all those delays was I ended up 10 minutes late for my train to Brussels, and my ticket was denied at the turnstile, there was nobody around to ask what to do so trundled off to the ticket office to get answers.

Told the guy what had happened and he just said "no problem I'll book you on the next train", which was just over an hour later.

Great so now I'm on the train an hour late but so what I'm still due in Antwerp around 21:00pm
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Wrong again - the journey I'd booked was from London to Antwerp as it said on my ticket but when we got into Brussels the train terminated there.

Thought "&%$£$£"%^" what now, again nobody about to ask where I had to go so walked around the station which as you can imagine being an international one is bloody huge - finally found a sign with an "Information" symbol though great so off I go, found the little booth wit a queue of about 3 people so waited patiently at the back, the woman at the front was obviously on one as she was shouting and almost crying in dutch, I gathered her ticket was incorrect and she wasn't backing down, after about 15 minutes and a headache later I got to the information guy and asked how I get to Antwerp with the ticket I had, he said the next train was just about to leave from platform 19, he said if I was quick I could make it.

Anyway me quick no on your nelly but had a go jogging up escalators and along a long platform, dived onto the train with 10 seconds to go until it was due to leave seating and out of breath, but feeling proud I'd legged it so far - guess what the bloody train was 10 minutes late leaving.

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Antwerp was an hour away and the carriage I was in had a couple with a baby that literally screamed and screamed constantly for the whole journey.

Finally at Antwerp, and a Short bus ride to the apartment, the bus came at 10:45pm local time and I checked Google Maps on my phone to see what stop I had to get off as I'd only done the journey once before, but after a long day my phone had no battery left, so I thought I know sort of where to get off so I'll ring the bell as son as I see somewhere I recognise.

I remember it only being about 4 or 5 stops last time, but that was about 6pm and the bus was full up with people getting off and on at every stop, this bus had me and an old woman and me. The bus seemed to go a very long was between stops and after about 10 minutes I asked the driver if we were near the Borgerout Collegalan stop he smiled and said that was 5 minutes ago, so had to get off and walk back to the apartment.

Just after 11:15pm got to apartment about as knackered as I could get, and though my 80 minute journey via two buses at 7am in the morning was something to look forward to.

hashtagLOVINGBELGIUM

Posted by Eurochunks 10:20 Archived in Belgium Comments (0)

Friday - beer

company bar

After a long 2 days back at work what better than a quick beer courtesy of the company bar

OK so it wasn't quick and it wasn't free but what the heck

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Marijn texting his girlfriend to see if he's going to be lucky tonight

He wasn't he had to go back with me to the apartment

Posted by Eurochunks 11:24 Archived in Belgium Comments (0)

New apartment

if I ever get there that is

OK so I had to get out of the apartment I'm in before 14th July, so for the past month I've been looking for a new apartment as close to the office as possible, not an easy job, as I have to translate nearly everything, and even then there are big hidden costs or the pictures in the adverts are not correct i.e. showing furnished when they aren't.

By the time the agency got back to me sometimes 3 or 4 days later, even after calling them, the apartments were either already rented, or not furnished as per the advert, or they wanted a minimum of a year contract.

So thought I'd have to go further afield basically back into the centre of Antwerp, which I didn't really want as it's quite a long way to the office, I found a few really dodgy Studios for about 450EUR and a few really nice ones at between 900 and 1200 a month - out of my price range!!

I'd given up and told the guys here I would have to give them notice if I couldn't find anything in the next 3 or 4 days. as I had to give them 2 weeks notice, I told my agency about the apartments I'd found the best being the year contracts, and they said no problem we'll cover you for a year, I thought you could have said that at the beginning and saved me a lot of running around.

Any way I went back to one of the best ones I'd found and said I'd take it, and met the letting agency to go over contracts, when I spoke to them I told them I turned them down last time as I couldn't guarantee a year contract and they said that's no problem this one is a minimum 3 month contract, I was going to say - hang on you told me a year, but thought I'd go along with them and got the contact.

Here it is - nice
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Don't let this picture fool you it's on a really busy intersection, thank god for double-glazing
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As I was almost in the centre of town I thought I'd walk up to the station, about 20 mins but as the whole of Antwerp is a bulding site due to new ring road took more like 35 mins of walking over rubble.

Got to the station and my next bus was in 5 minutes, so sat and waited, and waited, and waited and after about 70 or 80 minutes thought I'd better get a taxi or I'd never back.

So next day sorted out rent and deposit - 2400EUR - AGGGGHHHHH, and set off to sign the contract, guess what sat on the bus stop again for over an hour - no buses, gave up and rang the agency to say I'd have to sort out the contract tomorrow.

Dontcha just love Belgium!!!

Posted by Eurochunks 06:30 Archived in Belgium Comments (0)

At last

Independence day

OK so after a lot of faffing, finally signed the contract and moved in, Marijn has been an absolute star, running around for me and helping me move in, cant thank him enough, must find a suitable gift for all the hard work.

Anyway if anyone is interested.........more pics

Waiting for Hilde
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Don't know if I've got enough storage space?
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I'll program this TV if it kills me
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Nope it's beaten me - gave up and looked out the window
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Posted by Eurochunks 08:41 Comments (0)

Post Independence day

Mr public transport

Well had it all planned, on my first day on public transport, take a walk up to the station, buy new monthly travel card and catch the tram across the road.

As always, and best laid plans and all that, it seems that as the road was being dug the trams had been rerouted, (thanks a lot Google), and with my vast knowledge of dutch and not being able to read the sticker on the tram stop- stood there for 30 minutes before getting suspicious.
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So had to toddle back to the station to ask what was going on and where to catch the tram from now. As it happens the guy told me not to go looking for the overground tram but to use the metro which was a lot quicker, guess where the metro was - right next to the tram stop I'd been stood on like a lemon for half an hour.

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Got on the tram which was as it happens, only half my journey, as I has to change for a bus too in about 5 stops, but the bus (for a change) was on time and only had to wait about 2 minutes.
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The buses in Antwerp - in case you don't know - are long and bendy and all glass with no air conditioning so when it feels like someone has grabbed the sun and stuck it on the window your sat next to for the next 20 minutes you really don't feel like walking into the office with a dripping wet shirt, which is exactly what I had to do, also after all the faffing around meant I was late and had to go straight into a meeting, puffing and panting like an old boiled Hippo.

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Posted by Eurochunks 12:17 Archived in Belgium Comments (0)

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