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London -> Brussels. Train vs Fly questions.

London -> Brussels. Train vs Fly questions.

Sep 3rd, 2002, 08:53 PM
  #1  
Joe
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London -> Brussels. Train vs Fly questions.

Hello Fodorites,

I'm aware questions related to this have been asked, but I'm still in need of assistance.

My wife and I will be moving on to Bruges Friday September 27 after 4 nights in London at the Park International Hotel. From what I read, the PIH is close to the Gloucester Road underground station (Circle, District & Piccadilly lines) (which are all greek to me!).

I have two options I guess of getting to Bruges - Eurostar or by air. I can get British Midland (or even Luftansa) for just under $60/person from Heathrow (LHR) to Brussels(BRU) at www.expedia.com. The cheapest I can find for Eurostar is $139/person.

Now, flight sounds like a no-brainer but is it still faster ultimately hotel door to hotel door via Eurostar? I don't know where London/Waterloo (where Eurostar departs I believe) is nor do I know the cost of a tube from my hotel to there, nor the time needed from my hotel to Waterloo.

The airlines recommend 90 or so minutes arrival before departing Heathrow. Reasonable or excessive? When I get to Brussels International, would there be time-consuming delays such as baggage and customs? Is there a train to Bruges from the airport?

If I take Eurostar, since this is a Friday, how much time do I need to allow before departure and when I get to Belgium, is it easy switching trains to Bruges?

Anything else I may be overlooking regarding this decision?

Thanks everyone!

Joe
 
Sep 3rd, 2002, 08:59 PM
  #2  
Rex
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Joe,

I think you have identified all the issues. This is going to take about six hours, door to door. You will spend more time sitting around if you fly, more time moving if you go by train, but there might not be ten minutes difference between the two choices. Brussels airport should not hold you up substantially. But I do not think you can get to Bruges from the airport without making the ten minute train ride into Brussels (Midi) first.

You might think that it could go faster than this, or with fewer "mode changes", but I don't think that it can.

Best wishes,

Rex
 
Sep 3rd, 2002, 09:32 PM
  #3  
Ben Haines
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The Circle, District and Piccadilly lines are lines of the London underground railway system. From Gloucester Road you can take the Circle and District line to Westminster, and then go one stop on the Jubilee line to Waterloo. You must be there 20 minutes before your Eurostar train goes, so if you leave your hotel an hour before the train goes you will be in no rush. At Brussels Midi you are train from Brussels Central station, which is 50 minutes from Bruges. So, for example, leave your hotel at 0930, reach Brussels Midi at 1405 and Bruges at 1527. Eurostar is not very full just now, and in London (but not outside London) they offer three-day return trips London Brussels London at 90 US dollars. On arrival in London you can go to Waterloo and book one of these. Then you jettison the return half of the ticket. Gloucester Road to Waterloo by tube is 1 dollar 50. Brussels to Bruges is about 20 dollars.

Now by air. From Gloucester Road by Piccadilly line to Heathrow costs five dollars and takes 40 minutes. You must check in at Heathrow 90 minutes before take-off. This is not a matter for your choice: if you are late they can refuse to process you. Trains leave Brussels National airport at 03, 20, 31, and 48 minutes past each hour and take 24 minutes to Brussels Midi, where trains leave at 04, 10 and 37 minutes past each hour and take 50 minutes to Bruges. So if there's a plane at that time, you can leave your hotel at 0930, take of at 1140, and reach Bruges at 1527, just as you can by Eurostar.

Please write if I can help further. Welcome to Europe.

Ben Haines
 
Sep 3rd, 2002, 10:09 PM
  #4  
BTilke
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Eurostar is a better bet. Baggage handling at Brussels airport is on the slow side (I waited an average of 30 to 45 minutes for checked baggage on my most recent flights back home to Brussels; I have waited up to 90 minutes for luggage that was not AWOL and 3 days for some luggage that did get misrouted). The customs line, though, is fast. Hardly anyone gets stopped.
The trains to Brussels Gare du Midi have been running a little slow as well, about 40 minutes train time, due primarily to some track and station maintenance work. Rex, the train from Brussels airport to the Gare du Midi has NEVER taken only 10 minutes! I wish!!
Because you are going to Bruges on a week-end day (Friday), the tickets will be cheaper. It is possible to get a second class RT ticket on week-ends for as little as $12-$13 or one way for under $10. However, the week-end trains are very crowded and I strongly suggest you get first class tickets (about 50% more than the second class ticket). Trains runs twice an hour and are direct. The final destination for the trains to Bruges will be Ostende or Knokke/Blankenberge. From Gare du Midi, you will only have one stop (Ghent) before Bruges. If the sun isn't too bright, sit on the right hand side of the train to Bruges--it's slightly more interesting (you pass an old wind mill, a large log home [unusual in Belgium] and a small castle almost hidden in the trees. On the left hand side, you see the nuclear reactors outside Brussels and then not too far from Ghent, a small farm where they raise peacocks, including white peacocks.
BTilke (Brussels)
 
Sep 4th, 2002, 12:14 AM
  #5  
BTilke
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I forgot to note that taking the Eurostar is much simpler. One of the arrival escalators takes you down to the hallway by Sam's Cafe. From there it's probably at most a two minute walk to the short escalator you take up to the train to Brugge.
At the airport, however, if your plane lands in the new terminal, plan on doing a LOT of walking, at least 15 minutes just to get your luggage! The new terminal is beautiful, it's probably the most attractive in Europe with some oustanding airport shopping and dining opportunities, BUT it requires a lot of walking and riding down several escalators.
 
Sep 4th, 2002, 04:40 AM
  #6  
Keith
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I'd take the train. You can fly anywhere, anytime, but how often do you get to make a journey in relative comfort from the centre of London to the centre of Brussels and on to Bruges, passing through French countryside on the way? It may cost more, but it's your holiday after all!
 
Sep 4th, 2002, 06:56 AM
  #7  
Andre
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Joe,

I agree that Eurostar is a lot easier. Perhaps you can get a better fare by using:
www.travelselect.com
Don't have first hand experience with them though.

Also, bear in mind that return fares are often cheaper than one way, so try getting a cheap return and throwing out the 2nd portion.

Hope this helps,

Andre
 
Sep 5th, 2002, 08:59 AM
  #8  
up
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up
 
Sep 5th, 2002, 09:58 AM
  #9  
Joe
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Thanks everyone!

I was hoping that people would say either there was no difference or better yet, that the train was the way to go because I'd rather not make another trip through an airport and because it sounds fun.
I'm going to Eurostar it.

Any tips on how to get 1st class tickets at a discount?

Joe
 

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