Luxembourg to Brussels by Car and the Belgian State Railways

On Friday afternoon I hitch a ride with the flying Dutchman from Luxembourg to Liège, which is about a ninety minute drive from Luxembourg in good traffic.

In Liège I head across the square to the main entrance of the railway station that was designed by Calatrava and clearly carries his signature style.

Travelling by train in Belgium takes a lot of patience – especially if you’re from a place like Switzerland, where the federal railways have a bit of a paranoia about punctuality. My first stop is at the ticket machine to try to purchase a ticket to Brussels. Only, the ticket machine won’t accept credit cards, I keep getting an error message. Cash seems to be working, but only if you’re paying only in coins… At some point I give up and join the queue with what looks like seemingly half of Belgium.

Eventually, with my ticket in hand I board what should have been the 15h01 train to Bruxelles Midi. Only, we’re running fourteen minutes late. Fourteen seems to be something of a magic number for the Belgian railways, because most trains appear to run late, and most of the time the delay is fourteen minutes.

In any case, the journey from Liège to Bruxelles Midi should take exactly one hour. Only, by the time we finally arrive we’re somehow managed to pick up a further delay and are running twenty minutes late – giving me a total journey time from door to door of 3h20. Still, if I’d taken the train all the way from Luxembourg, I would have first had to get from the Kirchberg plateau to the city centre, which is where the railways station is. And then from there, make the journey from Luxembourg to Brussels with the direct train, which is 3h15. Plus a very likely delay…

In Brussels I’m staying at the Pullman Hotel at Bruxelles Midi, which sits atop the station and has an entrance onto the main passenger concourse. The hotel looks as though it has only recently been refurbished and even still retains that nice smell of new furniture.

The room I’m in is very big and spacious and comes with an electric kettle and a Nespresso machine. The drinks in the fridge are complimentary, although I think that’s because of my Platinum status. The cosmetics in the bathroom are by Bigelow Apothecaries.

Breakfast is served on the first floor in Victor’s restaurant. The buffet is quite extensive and offers a very wide range of hot and cold dishes. On the downside though, when I come down at 09h30 for breakfast, the place looks like a bomb has just gone off. The staff seem to be doing a lot of running around, but without really getting anything done. Most tables are still full with the old dishes of the previous guests, and those tables that have been cleared away have not been set for the next guests. And the buffet is a barren wasteland…

Despite the breakfast, I like the Pullman Bruxelles Centre Midi. The design and finish of the room and of the public areas is elegant in a simple way and comfortable at the same time. The breakfast experience could be improved though…

MGallery Hotel Le Cour du Corbeau Strasbourg

Strasbourg is the capital of the Grand Est region of France and the official seat of the European parliament. It’s a very neat and pretty city that is easy to navigate on foot. The centrepiece of the city is, of course, the magnificent cathedral – a huge, imposing building with intricate masonry and a very tall bell tower.

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Personally though, I think my favourite it the main railway station. The original building is already very nice, with large windows with coloured glass looking onto the platforms. The entire building is now covered inside a huge glass structure that is quite unusual.

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In Strasbourg I am staying at the MGallery Hotel Cour du Corbeau, which belongs to the Accor Group of hotels and is ideally located just on the other side of the canal from the cathedral. The facility has been open since 2009 and is obviously very well maintained, because there are hardly any signs of wear and tear. The hotel consists of a number of old buildings and town houses that have been beautifully restored and parts of the original buildings have been integrated into the hotel’s structure.

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The rooms are nicely appointed and very clean. Next time I’m visiting Strasburg I’ll definitely be staying at this hotel again.

Here’s the link to the hotel.