Russia 2006 Journey Day One
Brussels, Belgium

                                [14 July, 2006] The flight arrived to deep blue skies and plenty of warm sunshine.  No other pill or mental thought
                                can help the "inner clock" reset than a long walk in the sunshine after a long flight.  
                                The flight arrived 2 hours late due to extensive taxi traffic at the Newark, NJ, airport.  After waiting for 30+ planes
                                to take off, our flight started to Brussels.  The major advantage of Belgium arrival is no entry form is required.
                                Nice to know that after an overnight flight, no paperwork assignment is needed.  The airport sets on it's very own
                                train station - ability to fly in and train out.
                                Since the arrival was so delayed, the connecting direct train to Montpellier left without us. We went from being
                                concerned about the 2.5 hour wait time to missing the train by minutes.  The Brussels National Aeroport train
                                station is only 25 minutes from the main Midi station in the inner city.  From the main station, options to every
                                nation is an extensive list - including the EuroStar to London and Paris.   We took advantage of the delay to 
                                walk the city.  A quick stop at the locker area (3,60 Euro locker for all the luggage - exact change only) and
                                we were off.
                                Brussels is known as the "heart of Europe" and is home to the EU (European Union) capitol.   From the tree 
                                lined Waterloo boulevard to the Grand Palais, Brussels Central Park, and Grand Place, all can be walked within 
                                an hour.  The park benches watching the Brussels Park fountain was preferred to the tourist masses at the 
                                Grand Place (The classic large scale plaza framed with classic architecture).
                                Our journey continued with the Belgium Thalys high speed line.  The service included a small meal (small sandwich 
                                with an assortment of fruits) during the trip.  The rerouted schedule included Paris Nord station and then transfer 
                                to the Paris Lyon station.  One quick lesson is avoid Paris in the summer - air conditioning is not an priority and it 
                                consists mostly of wisps of slightly cool air.  Queues for train tickets seemed endless with a variety of cultures
                                waiting.  To transfer from the one station to another requires a  2 Euro RER ticket - without change, it is not
                                easy to use the auto machines.
                                Another delay due to an RER train not being on time.  Another connection missed by minutes.  And yet another
                                wait in the queue to change the tickets.  Even though we have EuRail passes, a supplement and seat reservations
                                are required for high speed trains.  Once new tickets were secured, the journey continued on the French TGV
                                direct to South France train - only 3.5 hours travel from Paris.  The scenery is everything one would imagine
                                about the French countryside - the agricultural life with accented with sunflowers and lavender.
                                Arriving at Montpellier - The Hotel du Midi overlooking the central plaza ( Plaza d L'Comedie).  A very full day
                                and time to allow the "inner clock" to finally rest -almost.  It is Bastille Day in France and the fireworks and
                                plaza bands with celebration is hard not to enjoy.
                                                        Brussels Scenes - Grand Place    Brussels Scenes     Brussels Scenes
                                                                                                                             Brussels City Scenes 


                                            Belgium Thalys Train    French TGV Train
                                                                                                          High Speed Trains - Belguim Thalys and France TGV 
                                Equipment:  Boeing 767-400R, Belgium Thalys, France TGV. 

Lobby Return                                                      Created with Fusion 8.0     Last Updated on July 16,  2006, CE