Monday, July 4, 2011

Maastricht to Paris

We spent a few days in the Dutch city of Maastricht, located on the River Meuse (Maas in Dutch).  It is quite a pleasant place, and the Aqui! apartment was very comfortable.

Dining out in the Netherlands is very expensive and so we decided to get some prepared entrees from the Albert Hejn supermarket to prepare in the IKEA kitchen unit in the 1br apartment.

We had not booked any of the train tickets to Maastricht or to Paris.  At Rotterdam Centraal, I stayed with the luggage while Penny went upstairs to the ticket and travel office.  The price for last minute tickets was quite high. So learn something from us and book ahead whenever you can.  Because they were top-end tickets, they were refundable and changeable, and this turned out to help somewhat.

The contact person for the Paris apartment wrote us to ask if we could arrive in Paris earlier than planned.  Penny replied that we would check into that, and so we went down to the Maastricht station.  It was indeed possible, and the very knowledgeable ticketing agent realized that her Rotterdam colleague had mistakenly overcharged us for the tickets.  We had reserved jump seats on the Thalys high speed train from Liege to Paris.  She changed us to another Thalys from Brussels to Paris, and put us on another Belgian connector train to there from Maastricht.  We got back 56.80 euros in cash.  So that all worked out.

The train connections worked just fine.  The Belgian train was swarming with conductors checking tickets and so on.  We had seen the same thing a few years back when we returned to Brussels from Luxembourg.  See our round-the-world blog.   So a word to the wise:  Don't try to pull anything on a Belgian train.

Nobody bothered to check our tickets on the Brussels-Paris train at all.  That was an SNCF (French) train.  Sometimes they do check and big fines come from getting caught.

One reason for taking the ferry to the continent was to avoid paying surcharges on our baggage.  The train tickets may have offset those savings, and perhaps we would have done just as well to stay in the UK a couple of days more and then fly to Paris.

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