An Unexpected Adventure

Part of my job involves occasional trips out of the office, to work at conferencey type things for a couple of days.

Last Wednesday I flew to Berlin.  El cheapo Easyjet from Bristol - so two hours of getting mildly annoyed by small children running up and down the plane.

Thursday morning I get told that a volcano has erupted in Iceland, and flights were probably going to be grounded all day....  My return flight was Saturday at 9pm.

So there followed two days of obsessive refreshing of BBC news and easyjet's status webpages.
By Saturday morning my flight had officially been cancelled. 'Luckily' I'm generally pessimistic, so had already assumed that would be the case and formed a backup plan :p (greatly helped by knowing that I wasn't the one paying for it....)

An extra night in Berlin on Saturday, then on Sunday a train to Cologne.  That bit was fine, but when it came to changing there (for a train to Brussels) it all got a bit mad - the train was massively overbooked, so after a lot of confusion we ended up on replacement buses. The first two(!) filled up and left, and I ended up on the third, which was only about 1/4 full.  So we had quite a sociable journey, swapping stories of our travels.

I'd originally managed to book a Eurostar for Tuesday morning, along with two nights in a grotty hotel in Brussels.
But by some massive stroke of luck on Sunday evening, I managed to move that booking forwards - obviously I'd checked the website very soon after an extra train had been added.  Phew.

Bruxelles-Midi station on Monday lunchtime was very hectic.  And the signposts are rubbish so it took me a while to actually find the eurostar place.  But once I'd got there, it wasn't so bad.  Just waiting around until it was time for boarding, then through border control and onto the train.

We were 45mins late leaving due to it taking a long time to get all the passengers on, but who cares!  Arrived in St Pancras at half 4, then a train to Bristol, where my dad very kindly picked me up and took me to the airport so I could collect my car :)

Eventually got home at 9pm.  Zzzzz.

On the plus side, I had a lot more time for sightseeing than I'd originally planned!

As well as an evening walk to the Brandenburg Gate and Reichstag, on Saturday afternoon I took a tour of Berlin by boat.  It was mostly rubbish, and a nice reminder why touristy sightseeing trips should be avoided like the plague.

"On your left is an old building.  On your right is another building," 
"Where this park is used to be some fancy old building, but it got damaged in the war and the GDR demolished it *explosion sound effect*."
"Now we have a new building, built by some person to symbolise something or other.  This building has a nickname, as does everything else in Berlin, blah blah blah"

Oh, and I saw the East Side Gallery from the taxi on my way to the hotel on Wednesday night.  Decided against buying tacky postcards with bits of wall stuck to them though, eww.

Brussels was a lot more interesting. Helped by them speaking French, as I can do enough of that to order food etc.  Unlike German, which I am utterly hopeless at :s

Monday morning I had a half hour trip on the piss-smelling Metro, to see the Atomium. Didn't have time to do the tour inside it though.

I only discovered its existence a little while back from some random bit of the internet telling me that no-one is allowed to take photos of this building, because the designer's family get really arsey about some ridiculous copyright crap.  Obviously, I take this as a challenge :)  So photos were taken, muhaha.

So thank you Eyjafjallajökull - I really wasn't expecting my two hour flight to turn into 2 extra days, 4 trains, 1 bus, and several underground journeys.  But it was certainly an interesting experience!


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