Unexpected Traveller: Guide to Gare du Midi
Gare du Midi is cryptic and confuses many a visitor when first arriving to Belgium. Here's a guide to unravelling Belgium's main station to make Gare du Midi a little less 'unexpected'.
Brussels Gare Du Midi is one of the first things many visitors to Brussels see upon arrival whether from the airport or from an international destination. Unfortunately, apart from being smelly and cryptic, it also can be confusing. This guide is here to help make it a little less unexpected.
1. Are you sure you want to go to Gare Du Midi? If your destination is closer to the northern part of Brussels, Gare Du Nord is more appropriate; likewise, Gare Central for the central part of Brussels. If in doubt, consult a map before leaving. Bonus Tip: If you’re heading for the European District, go to Gare Central and take the metro to 'Schumann'.
2. Before you even get off your train, make sure it is Gare Du Midi. Do not get confused with the Flemish spelling of the place: Brussels Zuid and Bruxelles Midi are one and the same.
3. Every platform at Gare Du Midi has a single escalator at one end of the platform. If you get off at the wrong end, you’ll find steps and a very rickety elevator. While the escalators do not always work, it's better to look out for the escalator sign when choosing your exit.
4. The tourist information does not have information about trains, despite being located in the train station. Use the ticket booths located under the platforms instead.
5. If you need the trams or metro, walk away from the escalators and past the shops till you see the the metro sign, a huge letter 'M'.
6. If you need a taxi, there are two taxi ranks. One is close to the international platforms (platforms 1 – 6) but is open air. The other is 50m or so away from the entrance to the metro. This second taxi rank can be a little dodgy at night.
1. You can buy a ticket from the automatic machines available along the concourse but they will only accept Belgian bank cards. Use the ticket desks underneath the train platforms instead.
2. You should have a ticket before boarding as otherwise you can be fined. Bonus tip: If you are running late, tell the conductor that you do not have a ticket before boarding and the fine won’t apply.
3. If you arrive early, you can wait for your train on the platform but since platform changes are common, I would not recommend this. Keep an eye on the departure boards to find out if your platform, or departure time, has changed.
As in most cities, Gare Du Midi is constantly full of activity so do keep a close eye on your luggage at all times and beware of pick pockets. In case of any emergency, there is a police station that you can find located next to the entrance to the metro. The police there are friendly and most can speak English too. In case of theft, make sure that you get a full report from them for insurance purposes.
The Unexpected Traveller, who occasionally answers to the name of Antoine, works in the murky world of IT where he does lots of stuff he can't explain to his grandparents. He travels, for fun or for work or for funny work, and enjoys noticing that the world is full of odd and strange wonders. He writes about his stories and encounters on his blog. You can find unexpectedness as it happens on Twitter or spot him lurking on Facebook.
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