Sore Ribs

Train Grafitti

I had a relativity good night sleep but woke with sore ribs from the fall. The weather outside the tent was windy in the early hours with some showers, I got up at 09:00 and went to the shower block to freshen up and hoped a hot shower would relive the aches and pains. The sky was very overcast and dark so I made a coffee before deciding whether to move on. I packed slowly taking almost 2 hours and was tempted to get a train south as my ribs were really sore and I’m grumpy. I decided to continue my journey.

The second I set off it rained, luckily I had already put my waterproofs on. Ha! I rode towards a draw bridge knowing I had to cross it. Cycling along the river bank I saw lots of fishermen and noticed that you were allowed to water ski and jet ski here. Once I found the ramp to get up on the bridge I followed the Brussels road. I spotted a Quicks (Wimpy), I went in and had a Maxi Burger (which never are maxi) and fried cheese balls as I’d only had a coffee for breakfast. It was still raining outside so I took my time. As the weather was so bad, my ribs were sore and I wasn’t enjoying Belgium I headed for Vilvoorde railway station.

The ticket office was being looked after by Malak and her mum, Malak was sitting on her mums knee pushing the buttons on the keyboard, she seemed to know to check with her parental boss when, it looked like good teamwork. She wrote her name in my journal, the ticket was €10.50 for me and €5 for the bike. The Belgium train network is not geared up for bikes, no lift, I looked for a lift through the tunnel with stairs leading upwards to the platforms, no luck. I carried my bike up 2 flights of stairs the 2nd flight with the help from a stranger. The platform looked like something from a black and white movie, if a steam train passed it wouldn’t look out-of-place, apart from the rust it could have been 1930 over again. The stranger pointed out it was a very old station and I had to go via Brussels north to get to my destination Namur.

When the train did arrive it was old rolling stock, think cold war movie. I walked towards the guard at the rear of the train and he nodded his head to the carriage he was at, I struggled to get the bike up the 4 steps onto the train. Five minutes later we arrived at Brussels north, this time a French guy who was on the platform helped me with the bike get off the train. At Brussels north the lifts didn’t work, another slow step by step down off the platform. I found platform 7 the one for Namur but this time I just took my bike on the escalator holding the brakes.

I waited 20 minutes for my train, the station was rough, graffiti everywhere including the trains. There were some backpackers sat on a bench with their pop up tents. When the train arrived it passed me with no sign of which carriage was for cycles, so I went to the last one and climbed the 4 stairs in the doorway. The carriage was empty so I stood in the doorway with my bike, an hour later I was in Namur.


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About John Holt

John Holt has worked in the travel industry for over 14 years and comes highly recommended by Trip Advisor for his practical and candid talks on travel destinations. Spending 18 months as a "Local Interest Specialist" for a leading tour operator John has become known as having more practical information than Google.

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