Travel Fails: Belgium Edition

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Recently I got back from a trip with my friends where we visited Belgium. We spent most of our visit in Brussels but did have a day trip to Ghent and Bruges. Of course whenever I go away with my friends there’s always some kind of disaster and this trip was no exception so I’ve decided to write a post of fails that occurred in Belgium!

Disaster struck before we even got to Belgium. The first was when I woke up to a text message saying a payment had failed to come out of my bank account and an email from booking.com saying the hotel had tried to take out the full payment for our stay and it had failed. Of course it had, I didn’t have enough money to cover the entire cost. I sent a frantic message to the hotel to assure them we were still planning on arriving, paying in cash and asking them not to cancel our booking. They were very vague about why they’d tried to take out the money and what they could or couldn’t do but after many messages I assured them we would arrive at the hotel the moment check-in opened and they agreed they would still honour our booking.

The trip started to arrive and all of us were looking forward to going until I received a message off Jess at 3:20PM the day before we flew to say our flight had been cancelled. All of us were at work but luckily when I told my colleagues the flight had been cancelled they were very understanding and allowed me some time to ring the airline. After going through a ton of questions I got us rebooked onto a flight for around the same time but this flight was no longer direct, we would have to change in Frankfurt.

As compensation the airline offered to let us check in a bag on the way there so I said “Great! Can we also do that on the way back?” to be told no we couldn’t. Well then what’s the point in checking in a bag on the way bloody there if we can’t bring it home? At this point I was so fed up though that I hung up and asked my friend to confirm we were definitely booked onto the new flights and she said she’d received a confirmation email. I was so annoyed that I messaged the airline on Facebook to ask if there was anything else they could offer us and they replied to say we couldn’t even check in a bag on the way there and then got quite arsey with me when I pushed the matter and said there was nothing they could do.

Mostly I was just relieved we were still travelling on the same day meaning we wouldn’t have to rush to rearrange a new hotel booking or anything so I went to bed trying to feel optimistic. Four hours later I was up at 2:20AM to finish getting ready and my friend and her boyfriend pulled up outside the house at 3AM to take all of us to the airport.

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The first flight went without a hitch, we got through security okay, had a calm breakfast and boarded our flight to Frankfurt with no problems. It was the moment we got to Frankfurt that problems occurred. I’d been sceptical that 50 minutes wouldn’t be enough time for a change over but the plane landed in Frankfurt at the time it was meant to and I didn’t feel too stressed. Until we hit security.

I find changeovers confusing, do you need to go through security every time? On the way to Japan we changed at Istanbul and we were let straight off the plane into the airport whereas on the way back from South Korea we changed at Istanbul again and had to go through security this time. For some reason the security in Frankfurt was going at snail’s pace – I’ve gone through longer queues at Birmingham quicker than I got through that one. There weren’t even many people ahead of us but they were going SO slowly.

We were stood waiting when a man came up behind us and said “I have a flight at 9:30AM so I need to go ahead” and we told him our flight was at 9:25AM so he’d have to wait his turn. The people behind him didn’t hear us so started getting arsey with us for not moving out of his way. He kept tutting and shaking his head which was irritating because yeah it was stressful but it wasn’t our fault.

Becca and Hirst went through security first and when they were done they sprinted to find the gate whilst me and Jess waited for our stuff. That took forever to come through and once we had it we ran the direction Becca and Hirst had gone. I feel bad as I’m not the most athletic person ever so I had to keep slowing down as typically our gate was on the other side of the airport.

We finally spotted the gate at the bottom of a ramp where Becca was stood frantically making gestures at us to hurry up so we sprinted down to the gate and just as we got there the doors slammed closed. We’d missed our connecting flight. The woman at the desk came back out and kept looking at us and I was starting to get annoyed as she wasn’t saying anything but eventually she said “Your flight from Birmingham was cancelled wasn’t it? I’ll book you onto a new flight.”

Apparently she’d been quite arsy with Becca and Hirst as they’d asked them to hold the gate as me and Jess were literally running through the airport and she’d told them it wasn’t possible and then snapped “So are you getting on or not?” – funnily enough they didn’t want to get on without us. However she was nice as pie now that me and Jess were there. A few other people had missed the connection and they started complaining to the woman but we all felt bad ‘cos although it was irritating it wasn’t this specific woman’s fault.

It could’ve been a lot worse as we were booked onto a flight for two hours’ time, it just meant having to sit around Frankfurt airport which was irritating as we hadn’t even wanted to come to Frankfurt. Luckily our next flight left on time and we were finally in Brussels.

We’d been worried the hotel would be arsey with us but once we found it they actually didn’t mind that we were later than anticipated and we checked in relatively quickly. The room wasn’t the best we’ve ever stayed in but it wasn’t as bad as some of the TripAdvisor reviews had made it out to be. The main issues were just uncomfortable beds and the bathroom kept flooding, most other things were fine.

Hotel

Well, there was one other particular issue on the first night. When the lift opened to our floor the lights were off and all we could hear was somebody playing a violin which sounds innocent enough but was honestly like something out of a horror movie. It was about midday at this point so we checked into our room then went out to do a tiny bit of exploring and get dinner before heading back for an early night after our 2AM start.

Everything was fine at first when we got back, Becca hopped in the shower first and then the violin started up again. Very loudly. It was still quite early but as mentioned we needed an early night after our early start that morning. We each took it in turns to have a shower and by the time I came out (I go last ‘cos I take the longest) the violin was still playing loudly away next door. It was such a specific issue that it was both hilarious and really irritating at the same time.

Eventually it turned 8:30PM and we were all ready to go to bed so Jess headed outside to say something to them whilst I lurked in the doorway of my room in case they tried to do anything to her. She knocked on the door and it turned out to be a little kid playing the violin (very well, to be 100% fair) whilst her Mom was sat in the corner watching. Jess asked them to keep it down and luckily we didn’t hear the violin again for the rest of our trip.

The next day went well. It did rain a bit but we saw a few museums, went on a waffle making workshop and generally had a good time. Then in the evening we decided to go and see if a room was available at a karaoke place near the hotel. It was around 7 – 8PM and we set off to a bar first so we could get a couple of drinks in. The bar Jess had found on her phone turned out to be closed so we went walking off and found the nearest one that served cocktails. Prices were through the roof so we only had one drink each.

Cocktails

Jess looked up the karaoke place on her phone and realised that actually it was closed. None of us were thrilled but she booked us a slot for the following evening instead. In the end we did a bit of souvenir shopping before heading back to the hotel and having another relatively early night.

The next morning we did more outdoor stuff as the weather was better – we went to Mini Europe and the Atomium before heading off to do a spy experience. This wasn’t cheap as it was advertised as being two hours long but we all decided to give it a go. I was a bit nervous because I’d heard there was a bit with heights and as a massive wimp I didn’t want to do this but as the others were doing it and I didn’t want to sit alone for two hours I paid my money and followed them in.

This was a ton of fun but also a bit of a disaster. In the first room you have to put on your ‘spy uniform’ which is basically just a jump suit and there was a guide on the wall to advise you if you were a certain height which suit you should grab. We’re all around the same height so I grabbed a 4, same one as Becca without regarding the fact that Becca is literally less than half the size of me. It didn’t fit and I couldn’t figure out how to get back into the room with the jumpsuits. Luckily Hirst’s didn’t fit either and Jess found a way for us both to get back in. For some reason this room was timed so the pressure was on to grab a jump suit that fitted and then get through into the next room.

Most of it went okay and it was a lot of fun. There was one small dampener when we had to crawl into a ball pit and as I went to follow the others I got kicked in the face by Jess accidentally (who didn’t even notice). When we got to the high ropes bit I asked the woman if I could opt out and she said I could if I really wanted to. I watched my friends doing that bit feeling a bit salty that I’m such a wimp.

When we got to the end we had to walk to the top of the arena and there was a slide to go down to complete the course. I told my friends it was too steep for me and I didn’t want to so they told me to find the high ropes woman and tell her I couldn’t go down. I watched them slide off and went to find the woman – who’d vanished. Her stuff was there but she was nowhere to be seen. I was in this massive spy room by myself. I went back up to the slide, telling myself not to be a wimp and just do it but I chickened out at the last second. I went back down to look for the woman but again, nowhere to be seen. I went back up to the slide and this time just pushed myself down without overthinking it. I kept my eyes closed the entire time but hey, I did it! I was just in a foul mood after that as I didn’t get to complete the course with my friends but I still had to do the bloody slide anyway.

I went back into the changing room, stomping around angrily whilst my poor friends looked on and tactfully let me get on with my bad mood. We went to get dinner afterwards at McDonalds and I managed to calm myself down. I’m not sure why it irritated me so much, I just knew that it had.

The rest of the evening went well, karaoke was fun and after a late night we were all up and ready for our day trip to Ghent and Bruges. A friendly guy at the train station told us we only needed to get a ticket to Bruges, we could hop off at Ghent if we wanted to, and soon we’d arrived in Ghent.

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Ghent went well, we had some breakfast at Starbucks, visited Ghent Castle and then went off to Psychology Museum. I didn’t find it that interesting but I think my friends enjoyed it. The only fail in there is that me and Hirst went on ahead whilst Becca and Jess lagged behind and then decided to play a prank on us. Becca hid under a hospital bed and Jess came round saying she had no idea where Becca was, with the intention of waiting a few minutes and saying we should go find her – then Becca would jump out and scare us.

This didn’t happen for a few reasons. For some reason Jess sat down to do a DNA test that me and Hirst had just done which took quite a while. Also, I’d seen both Jess and Becca’s shadows walk into the room and knew for a fact they were trying to prank us. Eventually Jess suggested we go look for Becca who came round the corner looking livid and said “You just left me there!” She’d been hiding under the bed for probably a good ten minutes.

After the Psychology Museum it was getting quite late so we decided to head to Bruges to grab some dinner and explore there a bit. We were all starving so we ticked dinner off straightaway and then headed to the main centre of Bruges where we went into a church. We were in there for AGES as Jess likes to take photos and videos of every inch of wherever we visit so me, Hirst and Becca started up a game where we tried to predict what Jess would do next. We ended up laughing so hard that we got told off by a woman working in the church so we decided to leave.

We meandered down the high street and just as we reached a cute square it started to throw it down. It had been raining on and off for the past few days but this was a whole new level of rain. Not sure what to do we decided to get some cake for dinner so we went on an epic quest to find some as most places were beginning to close. We finally found a dessert shop, sat in there for about an hour eating overpriced desserts before heading back outside. It was still throwing it down so drenched and exhausted we decided to call it a day and head back to the train station. Unfortunately the train station was quite a walk away so we only got more drenched.

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I wish we’d had more time to visit Bruges but my Mom’s been on about visiting for ages so I may have to take her there one day so we can both have a good look around.

I think that was about it for fails in Belgium! The next day we checked out of the hotel, went to the airport and our flight home went without a problem. This post was a lot longer than I thought it would be – but I should’ve known that when all four of us go we never have a trip without a few fails!

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