This post is written by Katie, about her flight from London to Brussels on British Airways.
We took a bus (well, three buses for the entire plane) from our British Airways Dreamliner to the terminal. Then I went through the International Connections security and boarding pass scanning points, before finding a nice area to sit. They did not announce our gate until about 11:55am for my 12:35 flight, but there are big areas to sit in the main concourse of terminal 5. I found a nice leather seat overlooking gates with lots of British Airways 747 planes and with two runways (not very active) in sight.
The flight from London to Brussels was full, but it was a nice looking and comfortable plane. We boarded from gate A22, which had a jet-way.
As we were taxiing, I saw lots of British Airways planes and a spattering of other types. It reminded me of how you mainly see Delta planes in Atlanta. I even saw Emirates and Qantas Airbus 380s (complete double deckers). I also saw a really strange looking British Airways plane with a thin body and long pointy nose, which JT later identified as a retired Concorde that is just sitting near the taxi-way at London Heathrow. After we took off, I was surprised to look back and only see two runways, as it seemed to be a rather busy airport.
As we crossed the English Channel, I was surprised to see multiple wind farms in the water!
Once we landed, I went through European Union passport control, claimed my backpack, quickly walked through customs with nothing to declare, and visited the ATM. Then I headed downstairs to the train station on level -1. I attempted to use the ticket machine to buy tickets to Brussels-Zuid, but I did not have enough coins to pay for the Euro 8.50 ticket and the machine did not like my debit card or credit card (although the message was not in English, so I couldn’t tell what was wrong). I eventually gave up and went to the ticket counter and bought a ticket from a nice guy at the counter that explained that Brussels-Zuid is the same as Brussels-Midi, it’s just that Zuid is south in one language and Midi is south in the other language.
The train took longer than I expected to get from the airport to Brussels-Zuid, so I decided I would not make it to Cantillon Brewery (5 minutes walking from Brussels-Zuid) before their last tour at 4:15pm. Hence, I took the 6 metro from Brussels-Zuid three stops towards Elisabeth to the Louise stop. Then I took the 93 tram from Louise stop four stops towards Legrand to the Vleurgat stop. Once at the Vleurgat stop, Brussels Hotel Belgium (Euro 395.72 for private double with private bath for four nights on Booking.com) was right there.
I quickly checked in, took my belongings to my room, checked email and got directions, and then went out to explore Grand Place. It was good to ride the trams, walk around, and settle into the city more. However, Grand Place was a bit of a let-down for me. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but it did not seem all that more special than other old building and squares I have seen in other parts of Europe, Mexico, and South America. I picked up fries and a sandwich from a stand, and ate it in a smaller square by Grand Place. It was interesting to watch all the tourist hurrying to Grand Place, and wandering away trying to find their way. Personally, I followed signs from my tram stop, eventually found Grand Place after taking a winding route, and then attempted to find my way back to a stop by looking occasionally at my previous GPS path and estimating where the tram stop was (since I did not mark it). I eventually found a tram stop one stop away from where I had originally exited the tram.
I arrived back at the hotel around 7:30pm, unpacked, blogged, and then went to sleep. My body is tired and jet-lagged. ANTS starts tomorrow morning!