I am completely shocked to report that we made it on the 11:00am train from Paris to Brussels, with a connection on to Brugge.
We had the classic almost-didn’t-make-it run to the train station today. We caught the cab in time, but didn’t predict the amount of traffic. I mean, this was complete with anxious glances between Scott and I in the cab, throwing money at the driver upon arrival, the kids and us grabbing suitases, and sprinting into the station to the e-ticket printing kiosk which… of course, wouldn’t work. Because that’s how moments like this go. And that’s that’s when I realized we had 9 minutes to get on the train, and we were so very much not going to make it.
We had to get in line and talk to a real person to try to figure out the tickets, so we spent the time waiting in line guessing at whether we would be able to just get pushed to a later train, what it was going to cost, how kind the person might or might not be about it. We made it to the agent with 5 minutes until the train left No idea what was going on, or at first if she even understood our issue. But her fingers were dancing across those magic keys, and suddenly voila, we had printed boarding passes. Still certain we couldn’t enter the station with 9 minutes to be on board and actually make it, I asked if we should move to a later train? Surely we wouldn’t make it at this point. But she pointed vaguely and said the train was there, at platform 9.
We turned, and lo and behold, it was there at platform 9. And platform 9 was right there! Sort of. So we wove our way back through the rat-maze exit line, unhelpful e-ticket kiosks, people begging for money and newspaper/coffee stands. The girls being in the lead at the beginning, stayed there instead of trying to switch places, me calling out “Turn Right!” and “Cut left as soon as you can!” as we went. They were in a state of perfectly balanced humor at how this was unfolding, and urgency tinged with fear, so there was no hesitation as they followed the orders.
And believe it or not, we made it on the train with about a minute to spare. I know. I’m still amazed, too.
The travel excitement for the day didn’t end there though. Arrival in Brugge was… interesting. There was something going on with the Taxis, the specifics of which continue to elude us. When we arrived there was a news crew taping at the taxi stand, a pretty long line, and no taxi in sight which wasn’t promising. We checked to see how long of a walk it was to our hotel, twenty minutes. We decided to give the taxi line a shot, and it was a surprisingly short amount of time before taxis began showing up, and we had a ride to Grand Hotel Casselbergh Bruges. And for all we know, that evening, we were featured on the news. The camera man had filmed us in line, while our bags were packed up, and when we drove off.
That afternoon we went to the Brugge Centrum, and had lunch. A good belgian meal of… cheeseburger and fries. And beer, that part was really Belgian. The best part of that was when Scott asked for a second beer, but asked for a small. So our servers said, “Lady’s size, no problem.” and walked away. Hahahah… oh, how we mocked Daddy.
The lunch wrapped up with a Belgian classic: Belgian waffle with vanilla ice cream & chocolate sauce. Mmmm…
Afterward, we gave in to what we knew we would have to from the moment we walked into the Centrum: A horse drawn carriage ride through the center of Brugge. It was really funny, because Lydia sat up front with the driver. We got less of the spoken tour than usual, I’m sure, because the driver was so busy answering Lydia’s questions. When did you start riding? What was your first horse? How many horses work at the centrum? Do they work every day? She was in seventh heaven.
Our final destination for the afternoon, was the chocolate shop. Scott and I remembered this particular shop from our last visit, and went in search of it again. After only a a few twists and turns, we stumbled on just the place. The girls came in with us, and picked out some chocolate, as did Scott and I. 🙂 Special chocolate shopping!