Travel trouble

I’m getting very doubtful about getting to FOSDEM.  No problems here in the southwest, but checking several points en route to London, it seems that as soon as you hit the southeast, more “heavy snow”[1] is forecast.  Whereas London itself is forecast clear and Taunton (Somerset – the far end of southwest England) gets only sleet, as soon as you cross into Wiltshire and Berkshire it’s heavy snow.  I checked forecasts for Westbury, Newbury and Reading, representing perhaps 100 miles of the journey, and all are to get the snow.

I’ve already refrained from booking a Eurostar ticket, because they’re non-refundable.  That’s a pain, but I confirmed on the ‘phone that if I just buy when I arrive at the station, the price will not be worse than a fully flexible ticket.

I have booked a hotel in Brussels.  I had originally thought of returning to the Grande Cloche where I stayed in a very nice room for OSCON in – I forget – either 2005 or 2006.  But a look at the map shows that’s a long way from FOSDEM.  Never mind: a quick visit to tripadvisor and I got a price of 69 Euros/night on a highly-rated 4-star hotel, the Renaissance (and as bonus, a 50-Euro voucher for my next stay at a Marriot hotel).  I’m looking forward to it, and it has the redeeming feature that I can cancel on the day if I am unable to get there.

I guess a deal like that means that it’s the best of the low season at Brussels’s hotels, and that they’re in healthy competition for my custom.  It’s a shame there’s no such competition in means of transport to get there, and I have to put up with Eurostar’s pain.  There isn’t even the option of a flight or ferry without going to London.

[1] That’s english for any snow that’s sufficient to settle on the ground, where it rapidly becomes slush if warm, and ice thereafter if it freezes, causing huge transport chaos.

Posted on February 5, 2009, in travel, uk. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I know you’re not a keen aviator – neither am I. But how about air from Exeter to Amsterdam – departs 13 30 tomorrow – then Thalys high speed rail from Amsterdam to Brussels?

  2. I’m curious to know where the pain is in Eurostar – as a frequent user of the service, I’ve found it far superior to just about any other option. Minimal security theatre, fast, comfortable, and drops you right in the heart of Brussels rather than requiring a nightmare bus journey in from the airport.

    (The Leisure Select service makes a real difference as the carriages are nicer, power sockets are available, the at-seat food service is pretty good and saves the need to eat upon arrival. Use it enough and you get to take advantage of the business lounges at either end, which though busy can be a welcome opportunity to stock up on newspapers, croissants, olives, bottles of water, …)

  3. Andrew, the pain is in the booking, not in the journey.

    In the end, I travelled leisure select. Fast, comfortable, indeed. But one MAJOR fly in the ointment: not-so-personal stereos making the journey a misery. Eurostar should introduce quiet carriages, as on UK domestic trains.

    Oh, and booking proved itself incompetent yet again, even on the day. My seat was double-booked! Fortunately there were spare seats available.

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