Back at the end of March I took a trip to Dublin and Belfast to celebrate my freedom of movement while I still could, ahead of the UK’s promised crash out of the EU. As an aside, the Brits who drool over a hard or no deal Brexit should be locked up for their own safety.
Well, April arrived without a Brexit. Next deadline – the end of October (but it looks as if that has been postponed as well).
This time I decided on Köln as my destination, via Brussels and – dare I say it – Krefeld.
Revisiting Brussels is always great for me. It is like going to visit an old friend. For several years during the 90s I visited the city regularly. I was on the management board of a multinational joint venture based in Brussels, and also had lobbying to do – mostly at the EU Commission.
The whole journey there was just like an attack of déja vu. Brussels Airlines to Brussels – it used to be Sabena until the 9-11 economic shock killed it off. The SNCB train from the airport to Gare Centrale. The short walk to my hotel.
Just opposite the station are 4 modern hotels built around a square – Ibis, Hilton, Carrefour de L’Europe and a Novotel. Until now I had stayed in 3 out of 4, and this time I stayed in the Novotel to make up the full set.
Usually it would have been outside my budget but Brussels hotels are often full all week and then quieter at weekends, so cheaper deals come up. I knew I was unlikely to need their breakfast with an 8.30 train to catch in the morning, and at €22 it was going to be easy to find a sensible alternative.
Between getting to the hotel about 8pm and that early morning train, I had little time to do more than eat and sleep, but just being in those familiar places was really enjoyable.
ⓒ iain taylor, 2019