Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Bus Ride - Paris to Brussels, 4th Leg

Date of Travel: 9th October 2015

I received a heart-breaking email from SNBC on 2nd October 2015, i.e. 7 days before our first train journey on Thalys International route from Paris Nord to Bruxelles-Midi scheduled to depart at 12 noon on 09/07/2015. It was due to a strike affecting Belgium Railway on 9th October 2015. Why oh why the Belgium Railway bosses and worker agreed to put an official strikes of 24 hours on the date that we were supposed to travel.

Due to that planned industrial action affecting the Belgian rail network, the Thalys train services was cancelled for a day, starting from Thursday 8 October 2015, 10pm to Friday 9 October 2015, 10pm. We booked on 9th July 2015 for Thalys train no. 9341, scheduled to depart from Paris Nord at 12:55 which shall arrived in Brussels at 14:17 hours. Though Ane has suggested that we took the bus, I was adamant to reschedule the train to 10.00pm on the same day by immediately responded on email to SNBC custimer services to place us on that available train. Sadly, no responses received from them. Then, I was thinking that I should return back 1 day to Brussel by air and take the same train no. to Paris with hubby to make up for the lost train connection between the 2 cities.

Argh, we were on the travelator in Paris CDG for the 2nd time
At the immigration line, all feeling nervous
SNBC has advised their customers to either cancel or postpone the train travel. But they will not charge extra for any ticket exchanges. With a heavy heart, I made a call to SNBC 2 days later to get refunds. The lady who assisted on my long distance expensive phone call informed that the train at 10.00 pm was already full. Even if I appealed, they cannot do anything to assist.

Breakfast at the bus station

With a broken heart, I then proceeded to buy an online ticket bus for 2 using OUIBUS services, the link is HERE, that Ane found in the website to substitute for the train ride within the same distance, following almost the same route. The bus fare for 2 was EUR58 whilst the train ticket that I paid earlier was only EUR44. The bus services company has given a clear direction that a pick-up point is at Roissypole, Gare Routiere de Roissypole, 93290 Tremblay-en-France which is accessible by free shuttle train from @ using a Metro Aeroport Charles-de-Gaule 1 station. I took gambled when choosing the train time at 10.00 am, praying hard that the flight arrival would be on time and there shall be no problem with our luggage as what we encountered bad experiences in the 2nd leg last year (the bag only arrived 2 days later in Istanbul).

Great relief to see the OUIBUS arrived at the dedicated terminal
As soon as we landed at around 7.42am, there’s quite a long que line at the immigration counter which nervous me even more. Thereafter, we had a smooth luggage clearance (no missing bags) as well as in finding an elevator to take a Metro to the bus station. To ensure that we made no mistake, I have re-confirm the bust ticket that came with a map with the information counter. The lift was just behind the information counter that takes you direct to Aeroport Metro, seated on below level from teh arrival hall with a clear indicative signage where to stop. Alhamdulillah, we found the bus station, Roissypole without any difficulties with about an hour free time left before departure.

The weather in Paris was unbelievable no joke with temperature that morning of 4 degree celcius. Take note that you have to wait at open area for the bus to arrive. After a quick freshen up and breakfast at the bus station, we decided to be there at an open area early. The bus was a little bit late. 2 young couple from Singapore joined us later. We exchanged route tips and talks nothing but the adventurous travel among the 4 of us. The bus driver checked the ticket and the passport carefully before allowing our luggage to be loaded. We were surprised to see that the bus was full.

This is how the toll booth in France looks like

Coming from a haze problem weather back in Malaysia, it was a great relief to see the blue sky accompanying us throughout the whole bus journey. With our seat right at the back, we have a fun 4 hours ride that morning. Only 1 stop to drop and pick-up passengers at Lille, France. I tried to search for the toilet not knowing that there is 1 available in the bus itself. Trust me, the toilet is really clean. For your information, there's also a free wifi for the passengers in the bus (free means, inclusive in the ticket fare). No password needed. For avoidance of doubt, the bus ride was quite comfortable, safe and it arrives in time. 

Quick stop in Lille, France

Arrived on time in Brussel-Midi station which is quite empty due to the strike

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