The tram journey to Hannover Hbf was straightforward, but the view out of the window was pretty boring: car showrooms, industrial estates, that sort of thing, but all neat and tidy. That's what I like about the Germans, everything is neat and tidy and efficient, the trains arrive and depart on time, it's all good.
At Hannover I bought a roll – smoked salmon and egg – and ate it on the train as it pulled out of the station. While I had reserved a seat, it was occupied and I couldn't be bothered to argue the toss with somebody who probably didn't speak English and besides, there were better seats available, seats with tables. My reserved seat was stuffed into the rear of the coach and didn't have a table. The thought of staring at the back of the seat in front wasn't very appealing.
The train went as far as Cologne where I had to pick up a second train to Brussels. I had a half-hour wait, during which time I ate a smallish, custard-filled pastry, and soon I was heading out of Germany. At Liege, there was a notable change in the scenery. The clean lines of German architecture was replaced by a considerably less tidy outlook. The buildings were older and resembled the Victorian houses of South London. I could have been in Streatham. Despite this, I do like Brussels, especially some of the quiet streets and small squares and cosy restaurants.
|The view from room 704, Best Western Royal Centre|
Earlier, I noticed that there was a full minibar in my room (Room 704) so I enjoyed a glass of wine and a bag of crisps while watching Pointless. Unlike in Germany, the Royal Centre offered a couple of BBC channels, which meant I could catch up on the latest news 'back home' – they're hounding Sir Cliff Richard again, but no more news on Prince Andrew.
The reason behind this particular trip being the way it was – and by that I mean that I had to visit Germany and Belgium – was because one of my appointments had decided to postpone a meeting that had been originally scheduled for last week. I managed to re-arrange my Brussels visit, but the initial postponement meant that I had to travel by train to Belgium. I figured it would be easier than taking a taxi to Hannover Flughafen and flying there as that would have meant the usual hassle of arriving at the airport a couple of hours prior to take-off, going through the hassle of airport security and so on when the alternative was simply jumping on a train. I reckon that, pound for pound, the train was the easier and the cheaper option.
|The Brussels Metro at Troon|
Rather than spend a fortune on a cab, I checked out of the hotel and walked to the nearest Metro station where I took the train to a place called Troon and then, after a cup of tea in a drab restaurant called Pulp, a number 80 bus that took me across town to where my second and last meeting would take place.
|The rather stark Pulp café|