Day 1 Round Up: The Journey to Brussels, and Dinner

By , November 4, 2013 22:57

The last time I was in Belgium was passing through the country on the coach on a school trip to Germany in Summer 2006. Seven years later, and I am back in Belgium – this time for a longer stay.

As a member of the Conservative Party, I get the newsletters of all the MEPs for my region (South West England & Gibraltar) in the post. This trip to Brussels came about after reading the newsletter of Ashley Fox MEP – as he regularly organises trips to Brussels for constituents.

I was up very early in order to get the train to Salisbury for my pickup. I managed to get a direct train at 05:51 this morning, arriving in Salisbury at 07:36, then walking round to the Millstream Car Park, where the coach picked me up at 08:00.

CalaisWe travelled to Dover and boarded the Spirit of Britain – a brand new ship which entered service just two years ago. It even has wi-fi on board! The weather was really quite good during our journey: The first week in November, and I crossed the channel in bright sunshine: this gave me the perfect opportunity for a photo as we left Dover – and another one of the beach as we arrived at Calais.

The final leg of our journey to Brussels was just over 2 hours long, we arrived at our destination – the 4* Thon Hotel Brussels City Center – not long after 6. My room turned out to be on floor 11. I’m not used to staying in a room so high up!

The View from Floor 11Dinner this evening was at the hotel itself. I had (and I’ve got the menu next to me to make sure I get everything in the right place): a starter of paté, followed by pork cutlett with three pepper sauce, and then finishing off with panacotta. So a big change to my usual student food of pasta bolognese, or chicken kiev with baked beans, or home made macaroni cheese then!

I enjoyed the meal, and I’m pleased to report that I managed to chat to a few people at dinner as well. I’m generally quite shy around people I don’t know, but I actually quite enjoyed having an intelligent conversation about politics with 7 other people who I didn’t really know!

We went from discussing the UK’s relationship with the EU, to the Scottish Independence referendum…at one point we were discussing who our favorite political broadcasters are…and as I’m the only student on the trip, a lot of people have been keen to find out how I became interested in politics.

Tomorrow is the big political day. We’ll be visiting the European Parliament in the morning for speeches, then we’ll have a chance to explore Brussels, and then we’ve got dinner at the Scheltema restaurant with guest speaker Daniel Hannan MEP.

It is approaching midnight over here, so I’m off to bed.

Good night.


Dinner at the Thon Hotel

By , November 4, 2013 21:27

Belgian TV: Surprisingly British!

By , November 4, 2013 18:27

Those who know me well will know that I have a strong interest in radio, and occasionally TV. The first thing I usually do when I arrive in a foreign country is switch on the TV/Radio.

This trip to Belgium is no exception, despite the fact that I speak neither Flemish (the Belgian dialect of Dutch), nor French.

You can imagine the surprise I got when I switched on the TV to find Eggheads with Jeremy Vine on one side, and the BBC News at 6 on the other! Very useful for keeping up to date with the latest news. There are also in excess of 30 other TV channels available here, most in either French, Flemish/Dutch or German.

Belgian TV

The View from My Hotel Room

By , November 4, 2013 18:20

Good evening from Floor 11 of the Thon Hotel, Brussels City Center.

I’m not used to staying in a room that is so high up! It took me a while to work out how to use the lift (I have to use my key card to make it work).

The View from Floor 11

Arriving at Calais

By , November 4, 2013 14:30

We are very nearly at Calais. I think I will be able to remember my way back down to the coach! If it wasn’t November, I’d say that beach looks good enough to swim at… 😉

Once we are on the coach, we will start the final leg of our journey to Brussels.

I’m don’t think Calais is far from the Belgian border – and Belgium is a relatively small country. We can’t be more than two and a bit hours from Brussels once we’ve cleared the port and hit the road.


Sitting In the Sun

By , November 4, 2013 14:12

Half Way?

By , November 4, 2013 14:04

Internet at Sea

By , November 4, 2013 13:14

Internet at SeaI am currently on board the Spirit of Britain, somewhere between Dover and Calais.

Isn’t technology wonderful!? The more observant of you will notice that my laptop is also plugged in to power at sea!

The Internet on board is extremely slow though – it is like dial up! Not that this bothers me, it is free and I’m only here for a short time.

I will be switching my sim card when we are half way across the channel to my Greek sim card – cheaper roaming rates than my UK sim!

Time to go and find some lunch now!

And We’re Off!

By , November 4, 2013 13:13

As you can see, it is a lovely Sunny day in Dover today. I am now on the ferry and we are leaving now for Calais, on our way to Brussels. Time to sit back and enjoy the journey!

Dover Sunshine


By , November 4, 2013 12:26

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