Brussels/Amsterdam: Day 6- 17 Mar #1

I’ll be travelling via high speed rail for my next leg to Amsterdam today. And since my train departs at 11:52 am, there isn’t much much time to go wandering around in the morning.

After breakfast, I wandered close to my place. Instead of going down the Rue de la Regence as I had done the previous day, I continued down Rue des Minimes till I came to a roundabout, then hung a right where I came upon a square and the other side of the Church of Our Lady of Sablon, which I passed yesterday on the Rue de la Regence side.

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Cold and dreary. It looks very different from yesterday.
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The Fountain of Minerva. I’m not sure what the face masks are doing up on there, some kind of protest, I’d wager?

There’s a taxi stand near the square, so that’s good to know. I turned back, checked out of my Airbnb, left the key under the pot at the door and went back to the taxi stand to get a ride to Midi.

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Fare chart for Brussels taxis.

The driver was a young lad, and unlike the old man who drove me two days ago, this guy was a chatterbox. He kept pulling all sorts of odd jokes. He did relay that he’d recently gotten the taxi I was riding in, a Skoda barely two weeks old. Turns out the taxi had idle stop as well, which means the engine actually shuts off when the vehicle is stopped, and restarts when the driver releases the brake.

It was an 18 Euro ride back to Midi. Since I’m travelling on Comfort 1 (ala Thalys First Class), I’m entitled for lounge access at Midi. When I got there, I tried to follow the signs inside the building, which led me outside again to my bafflement. It turns out that the Thalys lounge isn’t actually in Midi station itself, but in a corner shoplot beside it.

Gaining access was simple, just show up and flash my ticket to the attendant and I’m in. There are complimentary hot and cold drinks available, and WiFi as well, although there’s no food which is a bummer. I think I did spot a computer and some printing facilities in one corner though.

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The Thalys lounge beside Midi.

There are displays in the lounge showing the departure board at Midi so that you wouldn’t miss your train, but other than that, it was pretty unremarkable. Just a nice place to chill for a few moments while waiting for your train.

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Complimentary hot and cold drinks available, no food though.

I left the lounge at a little over half past eleven, heading into Midi. The announcements over the PA were made in barely understandable English, but the signage were clear enough that I managed to find the departure platform without too much hassle. Since I’m already in the EU, there’s no passport control and surprisingly, no security screening as well. Just proceed straight up the escalator to the platform.

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The departure platform. There’s a Thalys PBA sitting on the far left, an German DB ICE-3 in the middle and a TGV (not sure which model) on the far right.

Brussels to Amsterdam is just a short hop of 2 hours, and the only reason that I took Comfort 1 was the sheer novelty of it, as well as being priced within my range at 49 Euros.

Facts:

  • Travel Class: First Class (Comfort 1)
  • Fare Class: Semi-Flex
  • Service: Thalys 9327
  • Rolling Stock: Thalys PBKA
  • Seat Type: Table Seat
  • Seat: Coach 11, Seat 55

I didnt have a choice regarding the fare class. All Comfort 1 tickets sold at that time came in the Semi-Flex fare, which means I could take the previous train to my 11:52 one or the one directly it. So if you wanted to be able to mess around with your timing for a few hours, the Semi-Flex is good, although if you leacve on the preceeding or succeeding trains, meals aren’t guaranteed to be available for you.

One thing about Thalys is: red/maroon/crimson is everywhere. The sests were old, and my headrest was loose from it’s socket and was hanging askew. My carriage was all Comfort 1, and it was pretty full as well.

Again, I chose the table seat in the off chance that there’s no one in my opposite seat, I can have plenty of legroom. But it turns out that the lady in the window seat opposite me (I was in an aisle seat) had her dog under the table. It wasn’t a small pooch either, and I felt sorry for the dog having to be crammed into such a tight space. But it was surprisingly well behaved.

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Meal service on Comfort 1, not exactly giving me the ‘wow’ factor here.

Meal service began shortly after our departure from Brussels. The choice was either salmon or vegetarian, by the picture you could guess what I had. Wine and other alcoholic beverages were available, but I elected not to arrive in Amsterdam with my judgement impaired since I was self-navigating.

The meal was served cold, and the salmon didn’t taste particularly good, but eh, for the slight increase in fare you’ll get a wider seat and an onboard lunch. Fair trade, I’ll say.

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Some dessert.

After the lunch was cleared away, the stewardesses came back with some snacks/desserts as well. All is good, as I sped through the Belgian and Dutch countryside.

Next stop: Amsterdam!

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