My sister and I got our own taste of The Great European Travel Disaster of 2009 this weekend. It started with a train reservation on Belgian rail line, Thalys, that was set to leave Brussels' Gare du Midi at 8:50am Saturday morning. Delay after delay found us leaving approximately 20 mintues behind schedule. Not bad, but not ideal either. Unfortunately, it was only a harbinger of things to come. As we kept an eye on the developing Eurostar story and unchanging weather forecasts, we hoped our return to Brussels would not be affected. But upon arrival at Amstedam Centraal Station we quickly heard rumors of no trains coming in and no trains going out. A frantic hour later we somehow managed to learn that our train would be leaving shortly from platform 11a. Running through the station and up to the platform, dragging bags and fellow passengers we passed information to mid-stride, we found our seats and thanked our lucky stars.
The biggest problem we discovered when trying to get back to Brussels was a lack of accurate information. At the Amsterdam station all of the information signs read "no information currently available." Everyone we talked to said "No Thalys." No Thalys right now, or ever? Turns out, it was only delayed by about 40 minutes, a hiccup that should not have caused the uncertainty and panic we witnessed and felt. But without information, the imagination runs wild, usually to the worst-case scenario. Our train had problems on the tracks, and some passengers had to stand for lack of seats, but we finally made it to Brussels, albeit two hours behind schedule. Our next train ride is set for tomorrow, on the Thalys from Brussels to Paris. We're crossing our fingers.