I spent most of the past week in Brussels, visiting with one of our biggest customers, Belgacom. As with many of these work trips, the work doesn’t allow for much time to be a tourist. I have been to Belgium before, so I knew a bit about what to expect. Still, this trip did not afford much of a chance to check the place out again. It’s a pretty cool little city, and I’d love to go back in the summer when the weather’s nicer. My previous trip was in the fall.
One of the interesting things about this trip was it gave me the opportunity to travel through the Channel Tunnel (the “Chunnel”, as it is affectionately known…) under the English Channel, between England and France. In talking to my colleagues over here, it seems to be the preferred means of travel over flying for short trips between London and Brussels/Paris. The train trip starts at the newly-remodeled St. Pancreas station in London. As I understand it, the place was a dump until they spent some ridiculous amount of money to remodel and move the Eurostar trains from Waterloo to St. Pancreas. Well, I think it was money was well spent. The new terminal is beautiful – light and airy, well organized and it was pretty easy to get to.
The trip itself was uneventful, and nothing much to speak of. I don’t know what I was expecting when you went under the English Channel. In reality, it gets dark for about 25 minutes, and that is it. Not all that dramatic really. I was in Brussels in about 2 hours, the seats were good and I had space to work. It was pretty good really.
After arriving in Brussels (this was Tuesday night) and checking into the hotel, I met up with my coworkers and we went out for a late dinner. Wednesday was spent locked in a meeting room, but we did have a chance to get out and wander around a little bit in the evening. Frank, who lives in Belgium, played tour guide and we went down to the Grand Place (Central Square) to check out the main area of the old town. We wandered through the very narrow streets, and had dinner in a bit of a touristy fish restaurant. After dinner, we wandered a bit more until calling it a night.
Thursday was much the same – some different client meetings, dinner out at an Argentinean steak house that turned into a salsa bar about half way through the night (and no, I did not get up and salsa dance in case you were wondering…). Again, I spent part of the evening just wandering, and checking out different parts of the city.
Friday, we made a side trip to Brugge to visit with some other customers. Other than lunch in town, we did not get to see any of Brugge, which was too bad. They call it the “Venice of the North”, and it is supposed to be very beautiful. Another time, I guess I’ll try to check it out. Friday night, I caught the train home, and that was that. As mentioned, not much of a trip, but I did get to see a bit more of Brussels.