So far on this trip, it’s been decidedly cold – but also sunny. Bright days usually mean me spending extended hours outdoors, making then most of the sights. But today, it’s turned cloudy, and with it, the weather front known as the “Beast from the East” is pelting its full windchill over this part of Northern Europe.
It all makes for a painful walk from Heysel Metro station to the Atomium – Brussels’ futuristic sculpture-cum-exhibition built in the 1950s.
The car parks are rammed – around the site are various exhibition areas and the giant Brussels Expo complex, which dates back to 1935. The best way to get a look at it all is from the very top ball, which gives any British visitor a grim reminder of the past.
On 29th May 1985, 39 people died and 600 were injured when Liverpool and Juventus fans clashed before the European Cup Final. The ground you see today is the result of a massive redevelopment in 1995.
Back inside the Atomium, a reminder of Belguim’s national pride of creating what was then an ultra modern achievement, full of optimism. And girls dressed as air hostesses.
Things were simpler then.
Back at Midi Station, passengers are equally optimistic about the 1056 Eurostar to London. Despite the extreme weather, the train is running. Or is it? As departure time gets ever closer, it turns out the station’s announcements systems aren’t working – and a delay of an hour hasn’t been communicated. Then, when the train does arrive, it’s a slightly different configuration that had been expected – so every seat is painfully reallocated.
All of which means we’re an hour and as half late arriving into London – though no sooner do I switch on my phone than there’s an apologetic email from Eurostar asking if I’d like a refund.
Bruges and Brussels are great locations for a short break. Two days in the capital may not have quite been enough – but I think I’d like to return when it’s a little warmer!