I’ve visited many train stations and boarded many trains across Europe during my trip here. In conjunction with that, I’ve also had a chance to travel on many different trains across Europe. The two more common types I noticed in my travels were trains that had a 2-2 formation facing forward towards the middle, so half the train would be headed backwards no matter which direction it was going. The other configuration had a compartment set up, with 3 seats facing each way, for a total of 6 seats in a compartment. As a solo traveler trying to unwind, I definitely preferred the trains without a compartment. On my last long distance train from Dortmund to Brussels, I was on both, as I had to switch trains in Köln. But either way, I made it back to Brussels.
As I mentioned before, Brussels is pretty big, and I didn’t give myself enough time to check out everything. But according to the various number of Europeans I talked to, they see it as common for those from the States to continually be hopping everywhere, trying to take in as much as we can. I mean, they were complaining about the ~9hr flight to the East Coast and how long that must be. Well, when Europe is so relatively compact compared to the US, I guess that makes sense. (My flight from PHL-LAS was like 5 hrs. Eh.)
Brussels and Mussels. I did that one last time. The mussels I got were just simply steamed naturally, as this salty deliciousness pairs really well with bread or fries. (Sidenote: Belgian fries are eaten with mayo. I still don’t get it). I love how they come in these huge ass pots too. Well, for 20+ €, they better be a sizable portion.
My return visit to Brussels also happened to coincide with their flower carpet event that happens about once every 2 years. Why do they have a 77m x 24m flower carpet in the Grand Palace square? Tourism really. Just another attraction to bring a bunch of people to the Grand Palace. They were gonna go visit anyway. But I’m glad I got to see a glimpse of it.
Went on another beer tour, hung out with some folks at a hostel, and then wrapped up my trip to Europe. Except, someone thought it’d be a good idea to keep our balcony door/window closed, so it was stuffy and hot as hell, and I woke at 4am sweating all over and thirsty, so went down to the reception to buy a bottle of water. The door/window was open when I went to bed (and everyone else was asleep already), so it’s not like I did it. Oh well.
Then it was time to go home. I also enjoy this part of flying really much, but I’ve found that with each flight I take, I get more and more afraid of turbulence. I don’t know why, since there really hasn’t been any issues with turbulence drastically affecting a flight (minus that JetBlue scare a month ago, but anyway). I had lounge access in Brussels (Thanks again Priority Pass from Amex Plat) and the Centurion Lounge in Las Vegas (Amex Plat). But nothing in Philly because American Airlines doesn’t play ball with Amex. Fine. I’m getting spoiled, but I’m digging the free food and drinks (alcohol!?) before a flight, and not having to scramble to find an open seat.
I flew American Airlines all the way home, because the ticket over was a cheap one way fare, so I used miles for my return trip. When I saw the aircraft for our BRU-PHL flight, I was like, that’s so small. It was a B757, intended for short-medium haul routes, and that’s what I get for using miles/flying Europe to East coast. That’s a knock against American for both the lame aircraft used (this was a 3-3 middle aisle configuration; I’m used to like a 3-3-3 or 3-4-3 2 aisle configuration for int’l flights) and the “short” flight (still 9.5 hrs). It wasn’t a full flight though, so I had an empty seat next to me. We were serve lunch shortly after take off, and had a pastry/snack for “breakfast.” And they served me a can of bud light for beer. No IFE in your seat, and no outlet, USB or otherwise for charging. Quite a terrible flight, relative to the usual amenities I expect when flying internationally. Hell, the LCC Condor Airlines I flew had an IFE (with only 3 movie selections, but still). Didn’t sleep much on the flight. (Tangent, so that’s what it means to fly out of a hub. 4 terminals dedicated to AA? Damn. LAX just has one for each of the domestic three.)
Got to PHL, got through customs and baggage claim in like 15 minutes (LAX why can’t you do that), and had a philly cheesesteak inside the airport bc no time, and hey, I’m in Philly. Disappoint. Whatever. PHL-LAS was the next flight, and we were delayed for one hour, sitting on the tarmac, because of weather issues to the west. We were hanging out with like 10 other aircraft there, so everyone was just chilling. Mehh. Then upon arrival in LAS, we had to wait another 30 minutes for our gate to get cleared (who parked trucks blocking a gate at an airport??). Much fun.
Arrival gate was D7, Amex Centurion lounge was across from D1, and departure gate was D8. Niceee. I’ve now been to SFO and LAS Centurion lounges, and I think I like the SFO one better, mostly because of their drink selection. SFO has beer on tap (like 3), and LAS just has bottled beer. I didn’t see any wine selection tasters in LAS (SFO has it), and no specialized cocktail mix in LAS either. Preferred food in SFO as well, but LAS Centurion lounge is located next to an airport window, whereas SFO is just on the inside. So. Take that for what it is.
I should mention, both domestic flights from PHL-LAS and LAS-LAX were A321 aircrafts, which’re much nicer than the older B757 I flew transatlantic. The BRU-PHL B757 had one screen up in the aisles for your viewing pleasure, the PHL-LAS A321 had wifi shows you could watch on your device, and the LAS-LAX A321 had a full IFE and outlets. Why did it get progressively better the shorter my flights were? That’s just wrong American Airlines. Wheels up to wheels down was just over 40 minutes from Vegas back home, which was awesome because I’m tired from the near 24 hrs of travel I’d have. (3 hrs before flight, 9.5 hrs BRU-PHL, 3 hrs layover, 5+1 hrs PHL-LAS, 2 hrs layover, 1 hr LAS-LAX). And I’m still not home yet. But almost. 25.5 hours from hostel to home. I may have to rethink this budget traveling thing lol.
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