I Love Paris in the Springtime!!!
Trip Start Apr 27, 2014
20Trip End May 17, 2014
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We were up and out of our hotel in Brussels by 7:15 am and baggage in tow, walked the five minutes to the Brussels North train station. Unfortunately the nice little bakery we stopped at yesterday was closed. And the streets seemed eerily quiet for this time of day. Later on we would learn it is Labor Day in Belgium, and some holiday in France as well. All the banks and most of the shops were closed. No problem, we planned on spending most of the day on the train to Paris anyway.
Now, you've heard of the fast trains to Paris, well, we could take one of those, using our Eurail Passes, and we'd be there in two hours, but it was going to cost and extra $300
We basically boarded the train we took the night before coming from Ghent and Brugge in reverse. As we got off the train in Ghent, a young man with whom we had exchanged pleasantries got off with us. We headed to our next train (ten minute turn around time). As we stood there waiting for our train, the same young man appeared, we said, hello again, and asked where he was headed
Turns out his name is Bart, as he said, "Like Bart Simpson." We all chuckled. He is a traffic controller for the railways of Belgium and has been for 8 years. As the zoomed along, he pointed out his parents house and grandmother's house right next to the train track. No wonder he was so interested in trains. Next stop, Lille Flanders and we 12 minutes to catch the train to Amiens. No problem, especially with our very own train guide with us. We sat near each other for that part of the journey, with less conversation. We changed trains for the last time at Amiens and as we headed for first class, he said, his ticket was only good for second class on this train. So, we decided to travel second class in an enclosed cabin seating 8...just the three of us. Those are the trains Sandy and I remember from our travels forty years ago
Bart got really chatty on that trip to Paris. We discussed history, government, education, health care (theirs is similar to Obamacare) and a myriad of other topics, including of course trains! He was skilled and fluent in three languages (French, Dutch and English and spoke a little German). He spoke English very well.
We were fortunate to find a young man like that on the train to Paris. Made the ride that much more enjoyable. Not that it wouldn't have been with just the two of us, as the South Belgian and Northern French countryside was very beautiful. One particular plant that was in full bloom had beautiful yellow flowers on it and was raised in that region in abundance. Grape seed. It's yellow contrasted nicely with the other bright green fields. Sandy and I were discussing words that described the landscape around here and words like pastoral, idyllic and arcadian came to mind.
Got in to Paris and said "au revour" (see you soon) to our friend Bart or do you say Sheldon?
Headed to a taxi for a 10 minute ride to our hotel, the Crowne Plaza - Repulique. Very nice room upgrade. Taking care of us well. Grabbed a bite to eat a cafe across the street and spoke with a very talkative Frenchman. Sort of strange dude. Back up to our room and like all good Americans do in Paris, took a nap!
I started blogging and then we headed down to the concierge to discuss museum tickets, hop on-hop off bus tickets and a trip to Normandy
Take care my friends and family!