I rush to the Vueling airlines desk at Brussels airport. Rather breathless. Trying on my best “distressed” look face. Actually, I don’t need to try. I am rather distressed. I have been looking forward to landing in Spain. And it seems the universe colluded. Against me.
Earlier this morning, I wake up really early (like 5 am), trying not to disturb the three other sleeping occupants of my hostel room. Got ready in around 20 minutes and snuck out of the room. I double checked with the guy at the desk as to which station would be closest to the airport. The north, he said confidently.
So I made my way to Brussels Nord station, towing my luggage along. At the counter I ask for a ticket to the airport. He gives me one and says I’d have to get down at the last stop and take a bus. “The train doesn’t go to the airport.” Sounds fine, I think.
He points me to the train and the platform number. I run and make it just as the doors close. Phew!
Around 30 minutes later, the train pulls up at the last stop from where there’s a bus saying “Aeroport”. Excited, that I am getting closer, I jump in.
A rather long journey of around 30 minutes and finally we are deposited at the “airport”. I rush in and find huge queues. For Ryan Air. Right. Whatever happened to all the other airlines? I go to the information desk. He looks at my ticket and says, “This is Charleroi airport, you need to go to Brussels airport.” Uh… right. You know the feeling you get when you reach an airport, and then find out it’s not the right airport? That’s what I’m feeling.
And how far is this other airport? Well, there is an express service for Euro 2000, he says. At this point, I nearly fall off my imaginary chair.
I rush outside. The next bus back is only in around 40 minutes. The cabs don’t go till they have 8 passengers. And there as no way it’s going to be filled soon. I have no option. I pay 2 euros for Internet access (most places don’t have free WiFi or have some deal like “15 minutes free, if you register and bequeath your property to us”) so I can change my flight, but it’s too late. It is 830 am so do I still have an outside chance? Then I find out that the bus takes an hour to reach Brussels Midi, from where I need to take another train to the correct airport. Zavertem, by the way, is the name. Heavens. If only I’d committed that name to my memory and said it to everyone on my way.
I decide to give it one last shot. Rush to a cab and ask if he can take me as fast as possible to the airport. ‘Get in,’ he says and then drives through some side roads (in exactly the style they show in the movies) and then onto the auto route to the airport. I know it’s a losing battle, but what’s the harm in trying? In the movies at least, they usually make it.
Reached the airport at exactly 10 am with 20 minutes to go. Rush to the counter. The lady there checks, but I know it’s too late. They won’t allow me to board now. “If only you had 1 piece of luggage,” she indicates. Ya right, I’ve been travelling for well over a month, missy. Of course, I don’t say it aloud.
So there it is. I am prepared for everything. Except two airports. And looking back, nowhere did anyone ask (the guy at the hostel, the guy at the ticket counter at the station) which one I needed to get to. Of course, I can’t blame them. I should have probably confirmed it by it’s name. But at 630 am in the morning, I was more intent on getting to the airport, than “the” airport.
One would think that after all this travelling, I shouldn’t make this seemingly silly mistake. But we all live and learn. So here I am, stranded in Brussels airport and thinking that cities should be banned from having two airports. Why do they do these kind of things and just confuse the hell out of us? The the last minute prices of tickets don’t help matters.
One more lesson to learn on the road. Get the name of the airport next time. If possible etch it on your forehead. And say it many times. It’s definitely an expensive mistake to make. Especially in Europe.
(PS: To end the story, my final destination was Malaga, but since the flights to this place on the same day was very expensive, I flew to Madrid and then took a train to Malaga.)