Sunday, April 30, 2006

Where in the world are Diep and Julee? Day 4

Can you tell by looking at this photo of Julee?



Another hint, look at the photo of Diep!



If you guessed Euro Disney, you’re correct!!

Now, you ask, how did we end up at Euro Disney?

Well, here’s the story and it started 6 hours earlier….

We woke up in Brussels with all intentions of going to Bruges – a medieval town known for its quaint architecture, and this particular weekend…., an annual chocolate festival! Before we left DC, we had planned on going to Bruges but never got around to booking a hotel – we figured that we could do this once we got to Brussels. Not in our wildest dreams did we think this would be a difficult thing to do! After breakfast, we got on-line (at a cost of 5 euro for 30 minutes) to try and find a hotel in Bruges. After 30 minutes of frantic surfing we came up empty handed. In addition to tourists flocking to Bruges to sightsee, chocoholics going for the chocolate festival, it turns out that this is a holiday weekend for Belgians so they were heading north to enjoy Bruges. Anyway, we were determined to go Bruges but we didn’t want to spend the Euros accessing the Internet especially after the clerk at the front desk told us that the Sheraton hotel next door had free wi-fi in the lobby. So off we went to the lobby of the Sheraton with two laptops in hand. We thought we were doing well when we both got signals but unfortunately, no luck connecting. Diep – noticing that we were picking up a free wi-fi signal from the Crowne Plaza Hotel across the street, suggested we go there to try our luck. We headed across the street and camped ourselves outside the hotel, in the blustery cold, trying to get a signal. Reminiscing back on the day, we were a sorry pair – huddled under a door way trying to get to access to free wi-fi, just like modern homeless people!! We got lucky but it was too cold so Diep suggested we move to the Hilton Hotel – next door to the Crowne Plaza – to see if we could either connect to their signal instead of the Crowne Plaza’s. So, we moved into the lobby of the Hilton where it was warm, but the signal died as we walked into the place. We then decided to head back outside the Crowne Plaza but by that time, the batteries on our laptops were pretty much drained. By this time, we admitted defeat and we decided to skip Bruges and head for Nice with a stopover in Lyon. Left with a Blackberry and a couple of phone numbers, Diep placed the requisite calls and booked the hotel rooms. So, off we went to the Brussels train station ….the Gare du Nord.

I had a great time in Brussels and I would come back in a heartbeat…..still need to have some Flemish food and there’s a piece of Belgian lace calling my name!

The next chapter of our adventure begins as we say goodbye to Belgium. I’ll let Diep tell you the story.

Julee

Dear reader,

You would think that once we knew where we were heading to, it would be easy for us to execute the plan without a hitch. Well, this is counting without Julee and Diep.

As Julee mentioned in her previous post, after we were unsuccessful at booking a hotel in Bruges (all 75 hotels were booked!), we decided to go to Nice. After making some phone calls, we realized that there were no rooms available in Nice for Saturday night either. We were running out of options as even our begging the receptionist at the hotel in Brussels was fruitless. The only thing left to do was to call back the hotel in Lyon where we cancelled our previous reservation and see if they still had rooms. Yoohoo… there was a room available, and the train schedule showed us that we could get in Lyon by 5pm. Off we went, checking out of the hotel Siru, and heading to the Gare du Nord on foot. We arrived at the station, and the only tickets we got were from Bxl-Midi to Vallee de la Marne – Chessy (Euro Disney) and then from there to Lyon. We had 55 mins before the train from Bxl-Midi left, and since the North Station was only 15 mins and two stations away from Bxl-Midi, that was not going to be a problem…

Of course, we still wanted to give ourselves plenty of time to get to the main station, so we hopped on the first train heading for Bxl-midi. We barely made it into the train, but were glad when the train pulled out of the station and we were in it. We chatted a bit, while the train conductor came by to check everybody’s ticket. Upon looking at ours, she asked us where we were going. With a beaming smile, we told her that we were heading south, to Lyon, finally. She just said: “Aie, aie, aie,… you are heading the wrong way! This train came from Bxl-Midi to …the airport!” Well, she promised us that once we got to the airport, she was going to show us where to take the train back to Bxl-Midi, however she wasn’t sure we were going to make it. We finally arrived to the station, frantically followed the conductor to the other train. During our trip back from the airport, Julee and I were getting worried as we were getting closer to the time of departure of our main train, and our current train kept stopping at different places. When we finally got to Bxl-Midi, we had only 3 mins to disembark the train, get off that platform, run to the departure board, figure out what plaform the train was at, and run for it. We never ran so fast, with luggage, and never read signs so well! When we finally got to the platform sign, Julee looked up and sighed (actually, Julee just corrected me and said that she was moaning in pain) as there were 3 flights of stairs to go up before getting into the train! We managed to carry the luggages up, jumped into the first train car available before the train pulled out of the station. It is with pleasure that I can say we made it into the right train, however, it was the wrong car! No biggie, we could walk from car 1 (where we were at) to car 8 (where we were supposed to be). This was going to be the easy part of the morning… or so I thought. Every single time, while we were walking towards the end of the train, I turned around to check on Julee, either her luggage or herself was squashed between the doors of EVERY SINGLE car (2 doors per car, and there were 8 cars)!!! I was ready to take a snapshot of the incidents, but I tought it would not be very considerate. I just laughed instead J.

We know now that it is possible, from the North Station, to go to to the South station, via the airport, under 55 minutes J.

The rest of the trip went uneventful, and we had nice, long stop at Eurodisney.

We will update the blog again tomorrow! Check us out! :)