On the way back home through Charleroi, Belgium
It was the 3rd of june, 2009. It was a beautiful morning in Lille, although clouds were threatening the sun and from what I saw they were about to convince it to hide. I got up really early, at least for me, at about 7 o’clock. Shower, eating, watching the beautiful landscape on the window (I should take a minute and just remind you how nice it’s that hostel’s area in Lille. Buildings here and there are surrounded by playgrounds and parks, really large parks, making this a really pleasant place to learn and live.).
Then I said I want to go to the train station (Gare Lille Flandres, in Lille there are two really huge station, Lille being a well known train node. The other one is Gare Lille Europe and it’s mainly used for foreign connections). I promised to myself that I will only speak French, even If I know that the ticket salesman knows English and he will help me if I have some doubts. But I was convinced I will manage in my rough French, and I was right. I even asked for the train schedule and he gave me a little notebook with this information. After I bought the train ticket from Lille to Charleroi (the train to Liege), which cost me almost 19 euros (pretty expensive no? for just 120 Km. I compared with the train ticket here in Romania where for roughly the same distance the ticket is only about 10 euros. But then again, the quality of the trip counts too, no?) I decided to walk a bit in the Lille’s center, to see what’s new after two years I didn’t saw it. At first it stroked me the statues with a dark angel. They are so big and if you ask me pretty scaring. But I said that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder and art is such a relative concept that what seems ugly for some of us is a masterpiece for others. After this I saw a rather negative thing. They allowed cars in the center, which cuts from the poetic atmosphere that surrounded that place. Money is talking, indeed.
So, walking on the streets of Lille, in the center (Have I told you I adore the place?). The phone calls. My friend told me to come to help her find a new laptop online (the old one … well, let’s just say it’s also my fault). But she said not right now because she’s at the university, a bit later. I looked at the train schedule and saw that there is one at 1 PM which is very good for me, because the trip length is about 2 hours and the plane is at 5:30 PM. So I said, ok, I have time … let’s see what’s new on Euralille? (EuraLille is one of the biggest shopping malls I saw ever, 4 levels of shops, and the Carrefour inside is just huge). I walked a bit, went to Carrefour, and bought “Le Monde” to give it as a present on the return home. It was like almost 11, and I was relaxed. I said why not to look again on the trains’ schedule. So I did, and OMG … the first time I checked I made a huge mistake: I mixed up the hours for Lille and Liege. The last usable train from Lille was at 12:12. I just turned yellow. I just made a record run to the metro, than back at the hostel. My bags were not even ready. I took in a hurry everything I could (fortunately I didn’t forget anything). I called my friend telling her that I’m in a big trouble and I’m really late. I took the bags (which suddenly became so heavy) and run towards her residence. It was like 11:30, in 40 minutes the train is scheduled to leave. The road seam like elongating and the time was passing way to quick. I arrived at her place, said sorry about the planned laptop search, and we went in a hurry to the metro station. The clock was ticking pitiless. I arrived at about 12 at the train station and looked desperately on the scheduled board. I could not see the train. This is it! I said to myself. I’m doomed. Then I saw it … TER to Liege, line 11. Oh God! Line 11 is not in this building, I have to run to it. So I did. And I run, and I run. I saw the train in station, but nobody on the train’s platform to ask if indeed this is the train. It was late already so I got up in the train. I asked the first person I meet: “Excuse moi, monsieur, c’est pour Liege?”, “Oui”. I was so relief.
I put my bags up and start to rest. I was thinking: Please God, don’t cancel this train too, like on my way to Lille. If this will happen, I’ll lose the plain and I’m doomed. Of course things didn’t worked out so smooth. At Tournai they decided, again, to cut off some carriages, including, guess what, the one I was In. This brings me to a travel tip for all of you guys: Use the first or the second carriage. Always. So we waited in Tournai like almost half an hour. I was already sweating. But, for my surprise, the waiting time was somehow planned in the trip because I arrived just in time on Charleroi. At 2PM.
I ran at the bus that takes travelers to the airport (Now there are only two per hour, as opposite to last year when they were leaving at a 10 minutes interval. But now there is a new terminal in Charleroi, a bit far from the first one.). Fortunately I manage to arrive in time, I took the bus and in 18 minutes I was at the airport (they even advertise these 18 minutes, so they were really precise). At 2:30 I was in the airport. I needed to go to the bathroom so I went. I just left my bags there, saying that what can happen? When I was in the bathroom I heard the airport’s voice announcing: “Do not leave your bags unwatched as they will be taken by security”. I ran back to them, thinking that as far as my luck, surely they will take them. After I bought a 4 euros sandwich because I was starving, I went to checking and after that to the duty-free shops.
At the embankment, my “luck” kicked in again. There was a huge line, already, and like this wasn’t enough, just before me there was a problem with one person so I have to wait. It was frustrating to see others embarking in the plane as I was waiting meaningless. My goal was to get a window seat. The view is breathtaking, and I wanted this badly. But now I was resigned. But, something happened, because I saw an empty seat next to the window, I asked the girl on the seat next to it if it’s free, she answered “yes” so I took it without thinking. As you can see from the photos, I was blessed with this seat.
I arrived at the Budapest’s airport, at about 7:30 PM. The minibus was scheduled for 9:30, so I thought I have time. I started to read something and to wait. At about 8:30 I start to ask myself: but what if the hour is the Romanian hour? That means that the minibus should be here already. I took my bags and I cross the airport, a bit worried. A woman then asked me, in Romanian if I’m a Romanian. She was coming from Bruxelles and she was waiting for the same minibus. So we began talking and time just flew and at about 9:10 the minibus arrived. We went at first to the other airport in Budapest and then straight to Oradea. Just after we cross the border, we stop to a gas station. I was frustrated because I was like 15 minutes from home and I have to wait. I was the only one from Oradea in this minibus. I arrived home at 2 AM the next morning, tired, but happy. Bon voyage!
Things about Charleroi you may be interested inBe the first who requests a site listing for this page.
1. May 29, 2009 My travel back to Lille (Lille)
2. May 31, 2009 You must visit Pas-de-Calais (Boulogne-sur-mer) ( 43)
3. Jun 2, 2009 One-day trip in Brussels (Brussels) ( 78)
4. Jun 3, 2009 On the way back home through Charleroi (Charleroi) ( 81)
Start from beginning | 1 - 4 Journal overview
Read about Charleroi in our travel-guide
Recommended Charleroi Guide
In the 19th century Charleroi and Liege were the centre of coal industry in Belgium, hence their name of “pays noir” or “the black country”. Even nowadays the nearby villages where the coal miners were settled once are still independent from the city area. The coal industry opened the way to other industries such as: iron and glass. All three of them contributed to the transformation of the city into an industrial centre. A helping hand in this way was also given by a canal built between Brussels and Charleroi that made the trade with other parts of the country easier.... Read more »
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