The traffic to Stafford station was heavier than expected. This cut it a bit fine for getting to the station in time for printing off the tickets. Luckily the ticket printing ran smoothly, which is not always the case.
Once on the train, we had a bacon buttie and cup of tea for breakfast. Some things just have to be done The train ran smoothly to Euston, where we hailed a cab to take us around the corner to St Pancras station to catch the Eurostar to Brussels. The journey ran smoothly apart from a slight hassle due the scanning machines refusing to register my ticket, meaning the automatic barriers didn’t open to let me through. This involved a bit of too and froing on my part before I was directed to the manual check in booth.
I found checking in at customs was much more relaxed that at an airport. Travelling by Eurostar was very civilised and we were served with what was called a mid morning snack; yoghurts, bread, croissants and pastries with fruit juice, water, tea and coffee provided with top ups. The connecting service from Brussels was easy to navigate and also ran smoothly. On arrival at Mechelen station we caught a cab to the hotel and checked in. The hotel we had chosen to stay in was a converted church and our room had several architectural features and a stained glass window.
When we got to our room we quickly unpacked before setting off to explore the city. It was easy to see why the guidebooks describe Mechelen as ‘a medieval town with charm’, even though some of the buildings are currently shrouded with scaffolding.
We booked into a restaurant for an evening meal and returned to the hotel to freshen up before dinner. There was a small problem with the room safe refusing to open, with our things locked inside… A lady from the hotel reception was unable to fix it, but she was able to open it with an emergency key and booked a maintenance call for the next day. We were offered the facility of the safe behind the reception area until it was fixed. The evening meal was excellent and on the way back to the hotel we stopped off in a small bar that was full of locals. Sixties, seventies and eighties music was playing in the background so it was a bit like stepping back in time. After a small nightcap we returned to our room with a view…