The weather was hot and sunny on Monday so my friend Ilona and I decided to escape the city heat and go to the beach. Brussels is only about 100 km (60 miles) far from the beach. Following the advice of our government "take public transports" we took the train. There also was another reason, as retired persons we only pay 5 € for a train return ticket in whole Belgium. Buses and tramways are free.
When we arrived at the Central station we realized that we were not the only people who had this glorious idea. The platform was packed with people of all ages armed with all kind of beach accessoires. I had forgotten, there was still one week school holidays left.
Several trains arrived at the same time with or without delay it was a mess. We were standing there with our bagbacks just waving good bye to the train which was supposed to take us to the seafront. It had stood at the far end of the platform and we at the beginning so we hadn't seen it.
Not giving up our adventure we looked for the next train to take us to the sea. 10 min later we were pushed inside a wagon by a human wave. It was already full. I just could catch one seat which we had to share for 1 1/2 h ! But we were lucky, the other people were standing. At the South station another wave of beach hungry people stormed into the train. Now every space was occupied, the floors the entrance there were even people standing in the toilet ! There was no first class anymore, the commun people had occupied these precious places too where the seats should be more comfortable but honnestly there wasn't a big difference.
I had never ever seen that in my whole life except in movies ! It was just unbelievable. Thanks to my Yoga excercises I managed to climb over sitting and squeeze myself through standing bodies and made my way to the toilet where I had to ask 3 people to kindly wait outside until I finished my little business. I don't know how they did, but they managed to melt into the mass. Of course no controller could make his way through this exodus ! One thing was for sure, there certainly was no government member in the train claiming "take public transport" !
Finally we arrived at destination. It wasn't far from the station to the beach and not knowing this little town at all we just followed the crowd like sheeps would do in a herd.
Exodus to the beach !
We rented an ombrella and I a beach chair and finally had a very nice day.
After a cup of coffee with a "crèpe" (thin pancake) we went back to the station to see exactly the same amount of people waiting on the platform. This time I was lucky. The train kindly stopped that I had a door just in front of my belly. I waited until the mass got out and jumped in and on two seats ! After me nobody followed I didn't dare to leave my seat and looked out of the window. A man had been pushed in the gap between the train steps and the platform and they just tried to pull him out ! This too the minister of transport hasn't realized yet, that these gaps are dangerous ! Fortunately the man had nothing and was only very angry. The seats were taken in a second and the others had to stand ..... (see above) !
In the evening I heard that the motorway (or highway) wasn't better. The whole traffic was stuck and the police had to escort the cars lot by lot in a speed limit until the sea !
This is Belgium in summer when it's warm and sunny !