Flixbus from Amsterdam, took us to rainswept Brussels in only a few short hours and as we danced through the rain from the bus drop off and into the train station, backpacks keeping us dry, not really, we just walked very fast, but it sounds like a cool start to our story.
Brussels Central train station was just so, kind of, unhelpful for a major European Capital City. The signage was lacking, the information office was non-existant, even though there were signs for it and the overhead displays had lists of trains departing, the logic of the screens was a bit confusing, as it started with the train number, then the time, then the destination, our brains weren’t or aren’t wired that way round, but hey when in Brussels, no that’s somewhere else and they killed thousands of Christians.
Anyhow, we nestled comfortably into the 50 minute train ride to Gent en route to Ronse in Walloonia Land, that’s the French part of Belgium. Our late arrival at Gent meant we had a short wait for our connecting train down south and little did we realize that the 4 carriage train we departed on was going to split into 2 x 2 carriages midway at Oudenhaarde. With one section, the back 2 carriages, heading south to Ronse and the other front two carriages, heading west to Kortrijk and yes you guessed it. In our pure excitement and false confidence watching dusk fall on the Belgian countryside from the comfort of our seats, we headed to Kortrijk, oblivious to our error and not a conductor in sight to check our tickets.
Eventually, after double checking where we were on Google Maps and scratching our heads as to how we could have ended up on the wrong train, a fellow passenger informed us we should have been in the rear carriages all along. Thank goodness that Sharki3 speaking Afrikaans and the stranger speaking Flemish could communicate with a smile otherwise we would have been spending the night in Kortrijk.
Alas, our mini-adventure meant we had to wait at some station in the middle of nowhere for another train to get us on the correct route to Ronse. The 1,5 hour train journey from Brussels now became 3,5 hours after the 4 hour bus ride.
All is well that ends well, we did not make that mistake again while we used the train extensively from Ronse to explore the region, but Oudenhaarde has a special place in our hearts.