t2

Thursday, December 7, 2017

My Super Frugal Trip to Belgium- Part 1- Traveling to Brussels

I last posted when I was on the bus on the way to the airport in the middle of nowhere on Saturday night, and I am going to keep this relatively short (and I'm writing it at the airport in Belgium, waiting for my flight back home that leaves in 6 hours), because the next post will be about my day trip on Monday, which was amazing.... I was, at first, going to put this all in one post, and then I realized that it's so insanely picture heavy that I gotta divide it into two posts.

Sunday morning at 4:00 am we arrived in a city in my country that I'd long wanted to visit, but hadn't made it there beforehand, and the bus from there to the airport only left at 5:45 am. I thought I'd hang out in the bus station, but I didn't see any indoor part, so went with a few other fellow travelers in search of a bar or something that would be open at 4:30 am. Eventually we found one restaurant open, and I splurged and bought myself 2 non alcoholic drinks, totaling $5.70, so I had an excuse to sit there.


Apologies- my phone screen is a little cracked, so selfie mode ends up a little blurred at the edges. All selfie pictures therefore aren't so high quality, but frugal me isn't replacing or fixing it just yet... So you'll have to deal with my sub-par selfies.



After a time, we walked back to the bus station, took the bus to the airport, where we arrived way too early, and they kept on asking us "Why did you get here so early?" and we tried to explain to them (I and a fellow traveler who were both traveling from my city to the same flight, the same way) that we wanted to arrive early because we wanted to sleep at the airport... but they weren't quite sure what to do with us, since they said my flight wasn't even in the system yet, and they were such a rinky dink airport that they didn't have any waiting area to sit in before check in- you came straight off the bus and into the security area....
Eventually they figured what to do with us, and then we went through security, and then went to sleep for a few hours.

I did waste some money and bought chocolate and soda at the airport, another $7 down.


We then flew on a non eventful flight to Charleroi airport (pronounced Shar-le-wa from what I can tell). Ryanair is totally totally totally no frills. Like the chair didn't even lean back. Not a drop. And anything you wanted on the flight, even water, you had to pay for. Good thing I brought my own bottle of water. No, unlike the myth, we didn't have to pay for the bathroom. But that was about it.


Even though the flight was non eventful, the few hour flight felt like it was many, many, many hours and I couldn't wait for it to be over already.

We arrived in Belgium! Woohoo! The line for passport control went quickly, and there we were!


To keep down the costs of my trip, I looked into cheap ways of getting to Brussels from the airport. 
Charleroi is in the middle of nowhere, basically, not in Brussels proper. To get from Charleroi to Brussels would cost 10 Euros each way on the train. 

In my searches to try to find cheaper, I chanced upon BlaBlaCar.com which basically feels like the ride equivalent of airbnb, people offer their services to give a ride from one place to another, people leave reviews of how they were as a driver, drivers leave reviews on how you were as a passenger, and all payments are done online, and everything is verified and safe. 

My flight was to arrive at 5:30 pm (we arrived at 5:15 in the end) but I wasn't sure how long it would take me to get through the airport and at the departures, so I booked the first available blablacar ride after 6 pm, which was meant to depart at 9:30 pm. This cost 5 euros. 


I had 3 hours to kill, so I bought myself an overpriced airport soft drink so I could sit in the cafe at the tables and use the internet. I was so exhausted by this point I thought I would faint, since I only ended up sleeping around 2 hours in the airport, and didn't really manage to sleep much, if at all, on the plane....


Eventually the hour of my ride arrived... but there were a few other passengers booked for the ride, and their flights were delayed, and my driver waited for them. Instead of leaving at 9:30 we ended up leaving closer to 10:15 or 10:30.... 

The people in the car with me were very nice and helpful and explained a lot about the best places to shop for groceries in Brussels, and just giving some general information about the place. The ride was enjoyable, but by the time we got to Brussels it was after 11 pm and I can't explain to you how exhausted I was....

But first, I had to make it to my AirBnB. Google maps was very helpful on my trip, showing me the public transportation I needed to take to get there- I took the metro, basically the subway, and I got the hang of it, eventually. After first walking into glass doors when I attempted to enter, not realizing where I needed to swipe my card to open the glass doors. 

The metro cost 2.10 Euros, and included transfers within 60 minutes. I had to transfer to another subway line, but it was super simple.


Once off the subway, Google Maps gave me directions to walk to the place, but I found it very confusing because it didn't show you which direction was what, so actually following the map was harder than you'd think at first. I'd walk attempting to go the right direction, only to realize half a block later that I walked down the wrong street, and needing to turn around and go back. Street signs also weren't clearly visible in Brussels, making it even harder.

Eventually I got to the AirBnB close to midnight, was shown around, and collapsed, after first checking that my train I'd booked to Bruges the next day was flexible in terms of hours, and I could sleep in without missing the train.

Exhausting day, and all I saw of Belgium was their overpriced airport cafe, the metro station, and my bed. But that was enough for day 1. 

9 comments:

  1. You look so happy and free in your photos, hope your trip is a good one.
    Reading your entry reminded me of how exhausting travel is, a big deterrent for me. Once I'm at the destination I'm able to relax. But the coming and the going, nope!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you tess! Travel is exhausting, true. But it's a different type of exhaustion than regular life's exhaustion...

      Delete
  2. Wouldn’t it make more sense to take the train for €10 than to spend hours in the airport waiting for a slightly cheaper taxi?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In retrospect, possibly. But going by train is more complicated too, it also involves a bus from the airport to the train station, so it would have been more than 10 euros, not to mention a headache. I didn't want to spend more than my airfare on transportation from the airport....

      Delete
  3. This sounds horrible. The long bus rides, the waiting in the middle of the night, the waiting for your ride- it's all too exhausting and too much effort, before your trip even really started. That would have ruined it for me, but then I never would have done that in the first place. Not my idea of a vacation. If I can't go to a nearby airport, take a convenient flight and go right to my hotel, I definitely wouldn't bother. Especially wearing several days worth of clothes, oh my goodness. Just the thought of it all makes me shake my head NO.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha, I totally get what you're saying. It would have been my husband's version of hell as well, which is why I did it alone. The trip there definitely wasn't my highlight (to put it lightly) but the next day was, making it all worth it for me. I'd rather have inconvenient traveling, waiting, etc... and then be able to do and see awesome things than not travel at all. Different strokes for different folks, that's for sure.
      Fortunately the way back was much easier, shorter, less exhausting, and I found out that ryanair didn't care about the size of the luggage so much, so I just carried the extra clothes in a shopping bag and all was good. :-D

      Delete
  4. Hi Penny, even though it was a epic day of travel for you it's good to see your willingness to embrace your frugality and also travel. You live and learn from your experiences and I'd say today was all part of the adventure and makes your trip even more memorable!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! That's honestly the whole focus of my blog currently- compromising on things that aren't important for me (the long roundabout traveling time) so I can have things that are- being able to go on trips. For someone else, they may prefer to not travel if their budget only allows this type, but for me it was worth it. This wasn't today or yesterday, this was recounting Sunday, December 3. By now I'm already back at home, arrived on the 7th.

      Delete
  5. Oh and I just wanted to add that I would never have done this type of trip with kids, that long traveling, because that would have been my version of hell on earth. Hence not traveling with them on such trips. ;)

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for leaving a comment on your blog. Comments are moderated- please be patient to allow time for them to go through. Opposing opinions are permitted, discussion and disagreements are encouraged, but nasty comments for the sole purpose of being nasty without constructive criticisms will be deleted.
Just a note- I take my privacy seriously, and comments giving away my location or religion are automatically deleted too.

Share This