Tunnelling towards destinations unknown with a bit of unwelcome help from the Gremlins of Travel Disaster

Tunnelling towards destinations unknown. 

Or was that on the wrong track to somewhere or perhaps nowhere on an unplanned journey of the completely unexpected kind?  Veering off the beaten track was not exactly what Travel Bud and I had signed up for on our last morning in Brussels en route to Amsterdam, our meticulously planned itinerary abruptly jolted off the rails. 

Our well-laid plans had us arriving in the outskirts of the outskirts of Overveen by mid-afternoon, allowing us plenty of time in which to settle on in, meander and explore for the remainder of the day.  But alas, woe was us, for the Mischievous Gremlins of Travel Disaster had an entirely different sort of agenda waiting in the wings, gleefully concocting behind the scene machinations to deliberately slip and trip us on up.  After all, what could be more entertaining than tricking the Clueless Duo into mistakenly boarding the wrong train, forcing us to disembark at the next stop and whittle the afternoon away in what appeared to be a long forgotten railway station? 

Somewhere.  Or nowhere. Abandoned or what?

Let the games – or better yet – The.  Drama.  Begin.


A screech like none other could be heard for miles on end, ear-shattering decibels of panic and dread guaranteed to wake the dead.  The startled look of bewilderment on the visages of puzzled rush-hour commuters paled in comparison to the image of one pink sneaker clad ol’ Auntie frantically pounding on the carriage door, knuckles close to raw and bleeding while her ever so ingenious companion was about to take drastic measures and pull the Emergency Stop…

What followed next was quite the comedic display of arms a flailing, luggage a tumbling and feet a tripping, as we free fell our way out the exit door, landing flat, splat and drop on the concrete floor.  So engrossed were we with our non-stop squabbling and causing quite the ruckus that we failed to hear the conductor’s shrill announcing the upcoming stop.  Ouch!  Splat!  An elegant exit this was not!

Now what?  Where?  Were?  We?

Appears to be a train station.  After all, that was the next stop and where we jumped out.

Empty.  Deserted.  Abandoned.  No hustle.  No bustle.  Eerily silent.  Do I sense a pattern here?

Yikes!  Looking a tad deserted.

Yikes!  It's gonna be a long wait!

Where are the hordes of stampeding commuters schlepping cartloads of luggage on a marathon sprint to catch the next train?  And, speaking of trains, when is the next one scheduled to arrive?  After all, we’ve a connection to catch.  Check-in at our guesthouse is at 3:00 o’clock sharp and we were warned to not be tardy. 

Stranded in the middle of what appears to be somewhere but most likely nowhere or just about anywhere, Travel Bud and I were beyond perplexed, to say the least.

“I’ll stay here and mind the bags.  You go see if you can find Information and glean insight as to when the next train is scheduled to leave.”

And off I scampered.  Up the stairs and around the corner I raced, huffing and puffing my way towards the Information Desk, confident that we would be back on track within the next half hour or so.  Or so I foolishly thought.  

A train station with no Information Kiosk?  Or Help Desk?  Ticket booth?  Coffee shop?  Surely there must be a Gift Shop hawking tacky ol’ key chains and over-priced souvenirs?

Nothing.  Nada.  Zero.  Zilch.

You’re kidding, right?


Running around in circles, sprinting up and down the barren hallway, it suddenly occurred to me to search for the exit doors, perhaps the Information Desk is conveniently located outside the entrance to mysterious station. 

What are the chances?

A light-bulb moment of somewhat foggy clarity.  Or not.

Perhaps there’s a taxi stand where we could hail a cab back to Bruxelles-Midi?
Or, better yet, what about the bus?  Cheap, cheerful and not that convenient!  
If all else fails, how long do you think it would take to walk? 
Schlepping cumbersome baggage in tow? 
There goes a better part of the day.  Or two.  Better make that three.

You’re kidding, right?

Well, to make a long story short and not bore you, Dear Reader, with mundane details of the unexplainable kind, we eventually ran into a maintenance man, who informed us of the drill.  Appears that the abandoned train station was only operational during the morning and evening rush hours, with just a handful of local commuter trains arriving and departing from the Brussel Congres stop.   At all other times of the day, you’re darn out of luck!

What can I say?  It's a bit of a long wait....

And guess what time we eventually caught the next train out? 

You guessed it.  Dinnertime!

Just another setback in the globetrotting life of cuckoo ol’ Auntie Nora and Sidekick Oz.  Nothing like a hitch of a glitch to catch us off guard, trip us on up and derail us for the remainder of the day. 

As for those mischievous Gremlins of Travel Disaster? 

It goes without saying that they were rolling in the aisles, choking on fits of impish laughter and high-fiving one other over the day’s immensely successful shenanigans of the annoyingly disruptive kind. 

Just another day in the life of Disruptive Travel Gremlins determined to trip up yet another sojourner on the go....

The derailment continues….

Come ride the rails with the Clueless Duo as we inadvertently encounter twists and turns, roadblocks and derailments as we journey from Belgium to the Netherlands.  What are the odds that we will be able to escape the behind the scene machinations of the annoyingly disruptive kind - courtesy, of course, of the Gremlins of Travel Disaster?  Stay tuned!!

Next blog – In three weeks!!  Wednesday, June 15th!!

Check. Check. Check. Checking off the check list as we board the wrong train from Brussels to Amsterdam.

Bags packed.  Check.
Checked out of hotel.  Check. 
Double and triple checked departure times for upcoming trip from Brussels to Amsterdam.  Check. 
Arrived at station way ahead of schedule.  A first! 
Scoped and scouted out shops for last minute trinkets and souvenirs.  Ka-Ching!  Schlepped cumbersome luggage up and down hundreds of stairs for what felt like hours on end.  Hallelujah – didn’t break my back!
Purchased boarding pass.  Check.
Boarded train fifteen minutes ahead of departure time.  Double check!
Raced like a bat out of hell to score window seat.  Victory!
Shoved and stowed trunks and baggage on the near-empty rack above my seat.  Check!  

Could I have any better luck?  Just wait.
All settled in.  Nap time.
Aaahhh…  Breathe easy moment.
And, can I order that vino?  Or two?
Whoa!  Not so quick.  
Yikes!!  I’m on the wrong train.

“Again?  Like, seriously?”

Lined up and all ready to go!!

Did we miss the train or are we early?

All aboard!
And just like that, the carriage doors slammed shut.
A near empty caboose barrelling towards destinations unknown on the track to somewhere or perhaps nowhere and now we’re trapped!
Nothing like a dash of panic peppered with bucket-loads of disbelief to kick-start one’s day.
After all, why experience a run of the mill, oh so boring mundane journey when you could instead be an active participant in a comedy of errors of the slapstick inspired kind.
Isn’t that what traversing the globe is all about?

Press the button!  Press the button!  We’re on the wrong train!”

Too late!
Should we pull the Emergency Stop?
Luggage tumbling, feet a stumbling, arms a flailing, expletives a hurling - no need to further explain – you get the picture or not.

“We’re hopping off at the next stop!”

Flashback a minute or two or three or four.
So, exactly, how does one board the wrong train?
After all, we’re on the right track!
Track number #05, to be exact!
And look, we’re fifteen minutes early!
And, we’re certainly not tardy.
What luck!
So on we scramble.
But consequently neglect to clue in that our train has not yet pulled into station and is scheduled to arrive at designated track in the next five minutes flat…at 11:45am to be exact.
Departure is at 11:50am sharp!
So that means…
So, which train did we board?
Looks like the caboose that was scheduled to depart at 11:40am instead.
There’s so much to be said about missing the boat - or was that train?

Tunnelling towards destinations unknown.

The journey continues. 

Checking off the check list.  Or not!

Disembark at what appears to be abandoned station.Now what? WHERE are we?

Next blog post – In three weeks!  Wednesday, May 25th!!  Stay tuned!!

And while I’m at it, might as well confess that I inadvertently jumped ahead a city or two and scribbled about our misadventures leaving Brussels, as opposed to arriving in Bruxelles. 

Yikes!  So much for that check list.

Come ride the rails with the clue-less Duo – that of course would be cuckoo ol’ Auntie Nora and sidekick Oz – as we discover the efficiencies of European rail travel.  A second too late and you’re out of luck as your train has already barrelled ahead.  But, if a few minutes early, board at your own risk and always check those handy, dandy timetables that detail exactly when your Choo Choo is about to depart.  Too early and you’re on the wrong train, too late and you’re on another caboose to destinations unknown.  Either way, nothing short of a memorable journey!