Our travels from Austria to Belgium ended up taking much longer than we had planned. When we went to reserve our tickets on the night train from Munich to Amsterdam, we were shocked that there were no regular seats left on the train. The kindly ticket agent explained that the Carnival Vacation had begun and that it was a very popular time to travel. Luckily we were able to reserve three bunks in a couchette, which allowed us to stretch out and lie down for the first time on an overnight train.
We expected to have about 4.5 hours in Amsterdam before heading to our hotel in Bruges, but the Carnival complications continued. Our train ended up arriving almost 2 hours late, and booking our night train back from Amsterdam to Switzerland proved to be as time consuming as before. Combined with the high cost of storage lockers in Amsterdam, we decided to just head right to Bruges and see Amsterdam on our way back through in a few days. Once we came to terms with the the improvised plan, we were able to enjoy all the people dressed up in Carnival costumes, and we even followed along a parade route from the train.
We had about a half hour to explore the Antwerp train station as we switched lines to head to Bruges, and the station is one of the most impressive we’ve seen. The main gate is richly decorated, and it is kind of mind boggling to see all the trains come and go on different levels of the station. We also took the opportunity to try some of Belgium’s famous frites.
The rest of the trip to Bruges was fortunately uneventful. We were grateful to be able to relax in our hotel room and enjoy some wonderful Belgium dark chocolate as we rested ourselves for exploring the city the next day.