Sunday, January 10, 2010


We arrived in Brussels about 11 am Saturday, after the Kigali flight had left. Had to collect our bags and go through immigration, which was quick and easy. Then we went to see what Plan B was.
The lady at the Jet counter had fixed things, but she admitted it was not a great fix.
She planned for us to wait seven hours, then fly Ethiopean via Paris, changing planes in Addis Abbaba, and continuing via Entebbe to Kigali over the next 17 hours to arrive Sunday afternoon.
We circled the airport for advice. The Ethiopean counter was staffed, literally, by a card-board cut-out until 4pm. The Departure Board had every flight for the next five hours delayed. The girl at the Brussels Air counter refused to make any comment at all about the activity of the airport or the weather: Was there a snow storm forecast for this afternoon? Would the weather be better for flying on Tuesday? She would not say. The airport counter staff said we should leave before a Sunday storm. They admitted that airlines never post flights as being delayed until the last moment, so we should not be fooled into thinking our Ethiopean flight was really oin time. My Blackberry said that there would be light snow and temperatures around freezing for the next four days. That did not sound bad, but such weather had already caused major problems.

We went back to Jet to ask to be rescheduled for the Tuesday direct flight to Kigali. She was not pleased. She insisted that Ethopian plane was already in Brussels. She insisted that the Paris Airport was functioning normally. She refused to pay for any accommodation in Brussels.

By now we were cynical and had no faith anything would happen as planned. A comfortable bed and a direct flight three days later seemed a much better idea.

We put dragged our bags to the train. The Frommers Guide I bought in Toronto listed the Hotel Mozart as being central, inexpensive, and within walking distance of the central station. We checked in and got a triple room for 100 euros. The place is a confection of tile and a warren of rooms. Ours has a bed, bathroom and desk downstairs and a tiny loft with two more beds above.

Brussels is nice, pretty in four inches of snow. We ate mussels with frites and beer. But they know how to party, and a local disco across the street kept us awake till 4 am. Today we took the train to Brugges, made more famous by a recent movie set there. It was very charming. The canals were frozen but there was no snow on the ground.

In other circumstances I would be happy to explore Belgium, but I feel like I am in exile here. Its not what I signed up for, and its not where I want to be, and should be, today. But for the moment there is nothing I can do except enjoy the waffles, the beer and the chocolate.

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