Sunday, September 28, 2008

Climb Sint Romboutstoren in Mechelen for a Great View

We visited the old city of Mechelen which is situated between Brussels and Antwerp. It used to be the capital of the Netherlands and is now home to about 75,000 inhabitants. The city contrasts the old 16C and 17C gabled buildings with modern riverside living.

Disused wharf warehouses have been converted into trendy modern lofts. The former Lamot brewery is now a modern leisure space.

We took a guided boat tour to see more of the city from the lowest level. In fact we had to duck our heads under a couple of low lying bridges.

We then sat on the sunny terrace of a bar in a very old building and tried the delicious local Gouden Carolus beer. Well it would be rude not to! In the evening we ate the delicious local dish of cuckoo in Gouden Carolus.

Refreshed from the beer, we climbed the 514 steps of the 97m high Sint Romboutstoren. The original 16C plans were for a 160m tower but the city ran out of funds, fortunately for us as it was a high enough climb. We stopped on six levels to learn more of the history and play the carillon bells. From the top level, we could see for miles around towards Antwerp, Brussels and Leuven.

Sint Romboutstoren Mechelen
Sint Romboutstoren on Wikipedia
Mechelen tourism

If you want to visit and stay overnight in Mechelen, I recommend the Novotel in Mechelenwhich is centrally situated for Sint Romboutstoren, the Grote Markt, the river, shopping and of course bars. Children stay free at the Novotel.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Eurostar Service Restored

I am sitting on the wooden floor in London St Pancras waiting for the Eurostar to take me back to Brussels. There was a fire in the tunnel a few days ago whilst I was in London so I wondered what I would do if service was not restored. The last time I looked at flights between London and Brussels, they were quite expensive and it is such a hassle travelling to and from the airports.

Also, my annual travel insurance policy expired last week and I had not renewed which means that if I had to find alternative travel, I would be paying!

Fortunately, Eurostar service was restored on Sunday morning although there is a restricted service and trains are running more slowly. This means that my departure is 28 minutes later and the journey time will be 2 hours 19 minutes instead of 1 hour 51. Oh well, at least I can go home today.

Meanwhile, they are advising passengers to check in early so the whole waiting area is full. There are no seats left but at least I am delighted to find that FREE WiFi is available. I plugged my electricity lead into a socket and here I am, sitting on the floor.