Is this really happening?

Today I was supposed to start my journey to Japan. But heavy snow fall in western Europe ended this journey pretty early…

Problems started yesterday.

Worst start for best trip (March '13)

I thought if it stayed like this all would be okay, but weather forecasts warned us for more, more and more snow. More snow than we’ve seen all winter! And yes, when I woke up this morning around 4am, it looked like this outside…

Worst start for best trip (March '13)
Worst start for best trip (March '13)

Doesn’t look that bad, right? So around 5am we started our drive to the Brussels-Midi station to catch the train to Paris.

Worst start for best trip (March '13)The streets were quiet but unfortunately unprepared for snow…

So we arrived a little pas 6 at the train station, well in time for the train which would live at 7h05. The train arrived a little too late but we could go with only 15 minutes of delay. So far so good. The train was riding slower than usual and there were a few reports saying they had to slow down because of a train in front of us and that they were trying to solve this as quick as possible.

BUT THEN…

WE STOPPED.

AFTER ONLY 18 MINUTES!

Worst start for best trip (March '13)In the middle of nowhere, as one man described it, calling to his company to tell them about what was happening.

That’s right, we stopped somewhere no one knew. So this was 7h38. Around 7h46 there’s a broadcasting, telling us that we might have to return to Brussels. Seriously? Back to Brussels?! So after waiting for another 20 minutes, we were informed we had to turn back because no trains were in allowed in France – I learnt afterwards in the west of France had fallen 50 to 60cm of snow in one night and 70.000 families didn’t have electricity. So we arrived back in Brussels at 8h27. I’d already called my mom when the broadcasting about turning back to Brussels was over but they were stuck in terrible traffic -still in Brussels, after an hour- so they couldn’t turn back immediately.

I said okay, I’ll look for a train to my city and they could pick me op there. Well was that a wrong thought! Once I got to the train information screen I soon realized this wouldn’t work. EACH and EVERY train was delayed, the one to my city would be 1h08 late! Taking a train to Dendermonde was no option. I called my mom again and she said to take a metro to Heizel, because they were stuck near that station. So I looked for the metro, I’m not familiar with the Brussels stations so I was really nervous by then. Also Brussels isn’t the safest city, especially not subways, which made me even more nervous of course! By then it was already 9 o’clock and guess what, due to the terrible weather conditions the metro lines were also heavily disrupted.

So I waited.

Waited.

Waited…

and waited.

For a whole hour. I only saw one metro to Heizel, but it was really packed and I couldn’t possibly get on with my luggage. In the end I could take a metro to the Brussels-North station, for which I could see metros passing me by, and the would pick me up there. So by then it was a few minutes past 10 already.

Oh… Did I mention I had to go to the toilet from 6am already? And did I mention it’s surprisingly difficult to find a toilet in a Brussels station? So because of that, and because I didn’t go on the train, I still didn’t go to the toilet. Which caused me to get annoyed at everything and to not think clearly. Aaand because of that, I couldn’t find the right exit, so only half an hour later my mom finally found me in that confusing train/metro/bus station. And finally, finally! I could go to the toilet around 10h30!

Then my mom also couldn’t remember which entrance she got in, because she isn’t familiar with the big stations either. But by 11 I eventually sat in a warm car, heading home. Did I mention that stations don’t seem to have any heating so I all this time I was freezing too! Okay, it was ‘only’ -2°C but if you’re out there for more than 4 hours without a winter coat or scarf, dressed to go to a place where it’s around 20°C, well you can imagine…

I got home around noon, and late this afternoon we got news from the travel agency.

Firstly: the flight that would get me to Shanghai was cancelled anyway, so in the end I was happy that the train returned to Brussels. I can’t imagine being stranded in another country, without being able to contact my family.

Secondly: Air France told us train traffic will be disrupted in France tomorrow too, so leaving tomorrow is no option.

Lastly: there is one free seat on the Thursday flight to Shanghai, the travel agency took an option on it and tried to get into contact with China Eastern to get it reserved but there was no reply from China. They will try again tomorrow so hopefully I can restart my journey on Thursday!

And all that time it hadn’t stopped snowing so to end with, here are a few pictures of when I got back.

Worst start for best trip (March '13)

Worst start for best trip (March '13) Worst start for best trip (March '13)
Worst start for best trip (March '13)The streets looked a bit safer when we got back.

Oh and just one more little fact:

Belgium, 5 March 2013: warmest 5 March in history.

Belgium, 12 March 2013: third coldest 12 March in history.

As one Belgian said: Weather, you’re doing it wrong!

This photo isn't mine but embedding a facebook post won't work on wordpress :(

As shared on facebook. (photo credit: Tom Bonte)

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