As we were unable to embark our ship in Southampton we had to embark our ship in Zeebrugge.
That's why some information are VICE VERSA...
We berthed all three times (QUEEN ELIZABETH 2, VENTURA and ARTEMIS) at the Zweedse Kaai (Swedish Quay). There might be another quay but I never was there.
The part which is dedicated to the hardware on this day is finished. So I continue with the life onboard - and around. P&O (as well as Cunard) offered a complimentary shuttle to Blankenberge.
Nobody could say that they did not know the departure time of the last bus at 16.30 hrs. To be completely safe you need to add Central European Daylight Time...
You got in the bus an overview free of charge. At the ride came to the end an agent of the bus company gave information what you can do or when the next trains would leave for Bruges, Ghent, Antwerp or Brussels.
Behind the church is the access to the city center.
But for the station you need to walk here as well.
The train station is round the corner.
There is already the clock tower of the station.
Now you see it was the train station building.
On the left side there is the schedule for the weekdays and on the right side you find the schedule for the weekend.
Here you can download a pdf-version in French:
The pages with an "A" in a circle on the background: Weekday
The pages with a "C" in a circle on the background: Saturday, Sunday and Public Holiday
Trains marked with a "Sun"-sign only goes during the vacation summer season
The only problem: the ticket machine only works with the Belgian bank card. So you need to queue up if one complete ship arrives. Before you miss the train: you can buy with credit card or in cash also with the conductor. Or check before the internet: http://www.b-rail.be.
Here the Bruges-bound trains depart. From there you can transfer to Ghent, Antwerp or Brussels.
We did not want to use the bus back to the cruise terminal but to try how you can get back on the coastal tramways.
Just across the street and here the trams stop.
Left is a ticket-outlet. Do not wonder if you buy two tickets. You get it on one ticket and you do not need to cancel/validate/punch. To Zeebrugge it's 1.20 EUR again.
Zeebrugge is Knokke-bound.
But here you cannot find any information we need to get back.
During the peak-season the tram runs every 15 minutes. The next day obviously the off-season starts: every 20 minutes.
The tram approched.
During the bus transfer we saw already the stop Zeebrugge Kerk (Church). It should be from here ahead of the port gate. Thereafter it should be Zeebrugge Seesluis (Sea Palace).
So we passed the port entrance.
After a very big loop which we had to go due to bridge closure we arrived at Zeebrugge Zeesluis.
We were happy that the bridge was open for cars, bikes and pedestrians.
On the top of the reclided bridge you must have the best possibility to take pictures of our ARTEMIS.
After 10-15 minutes (incl. breaks for taking pictures) we arrived at the port gate. To the church (the other stop) it would not be much more closer.
It was not too far away to Zeesluis. For me as shipspotter it was the best option to take pictures of the ship. But in the morning time it would be better.
Now we had our cruisecard. So it should not apply to us.
This was the end of our walk: we were asked to wait for a bus shuttle which would take us to the ship.
So close the tram was running from the cruise terminal. But there was no close-by tram stop and no way to walk to the tram.
From there we took the pictures of the ship.
Something about ticket purchase and trains in Belgium:
I preferred to buy at the machine.
Especially if they are multilingual.
Weekend Tickets... it's a Saturday...
Why Ostend... I do not want to go to...
So I need to find the place by myself. Tomorrow we need to get to the ship so a B like Blankenberge...
Then an L... and now it appeared...
Interesting: 3.80 EUR for a return ticket. So weekend tickets are not available as single tickets and you get back for nearly nothing.
With the "+"-key you can get more...
Did not work... This machine only accepts Belgian bank cards and no cash.
Just interesting: Blankenberge - Brussels 14.80 EUR (single - 2010)
Blankenberge - Bruges 2.70 EUR (single)
Blankenberge - Ghent 7.70 EUR (single)
We need to buy our tickets in cash or by credit card so we missed the InterCity train.
In the regional train we found out that you can buy tickets with a credit card with the conductor.
So we paid 6.60 EUR for a weekend return ticket.
Regarding the comfort Belgian Railways has upgraded a lot compared to German Railways.
There 2nd class looked more like our 1st class in regional trains in Germany...
Disadvantage of the multilingual country: in the Flamish part they only display in Flamish. But they did.
And the walk from the City Center to the train station and options:
The market dealers on Zand started to pack their goods when we passed to get to the train station.
To say it in advance: we did a big mistake by walking on the right side of Zand towards the train station. So we could walk below the street level and see backwards how far we are already away from Zand.
But then we found ourselves at this rotary/roundabout and there was only a subway to pass to get towards the train station.
You could see it but it was still far away.
Behind the trees you see already the train station building.
So we need to walk a 3/4 loop like with a clover-leave intersection before we arrived the lower level. Another option would be to walk a small detour to reach directly this subway.
And if you want to get to the city: 3/4 loop upwards and you are in front of the rotary/roundabout.
But it's well signposted - somehow.
Only stairs up or down. So no good choice for mobility reduced people.
But you were well protected from the bike-riders.
The view from the train station side.
Or you rent a bike to discover the city. It's possible at the train station.
Who does not like to walk through the subway should keep right and walk on the right side Zand-bound. There are no stairs and no subway.
Alternatively: a cab to the market square for about 8.00 EUR.
Or by bus for 1.20 EUR (pre-purchase at the machine or 2.00 EUR with the driver - prices of 2010).
All city center-bound buses will call Zand and Market Sqaure.
Or do you prefer to use a taxi like us as we were going form our hotel to the ship with all our baggage:
The Port Agent and the hotel receptionist told us that there is no private limousine service or so-called mini-cars available. They charge the rides by meter. For full day tours you can negotiate a fixed price. At 07.30 hrs we were nicely surprised: Full leather VIP equipment...
Unfortunately not much too see: ARTEMIS in the background. And the meter show around 48.00 EUR at the port gate.
The driver took care of everything. We were listed as potential embarking guests. Everything is alright. The ship was not finishing the clearance and our driver need to be back in Bruges at 08.15 hrs. Before he was able to unload our bags we got the notification that he could come directly to the pier. Who likes to pre-book the taxi: Taxi Snel