@hoponatrain - Strikes are sometimes cancelled, but I wouldn't bank on it, this one has already been confirmed, and it falls on the first day of the Belgian school holidays.
Indeed there isn't a bus from Ghent to Brussels, but it is possible to do it via Aalst, if you have enough time. But you didn't say what time your Thalys booking is for.
#96 Gent-Aalst 50 mins, e.g. dep. 09:00, arr. 09:50: …delijn.be/dienstregelingen/Kalender2011/Ovl…
#214 Aalst-Brussel, 1h05, e.g. dep. 10:10, arr. 11:15 : …delijn.be/dienstregelingen/Kalender2011/Bra…
As Thalys trains from Brussels also go through Antwerpen-Centraal, if this is too tight it is probably also possible to take 2 buses from Ghent to get to Antwerp. I suggest you go to the De Lijn shop outside Brugge station and ask them for advice as I don't know routes in that direction and the routeplanner keeps suggesting trains..
If you purchased a non-flex Thalys ticket, you can't change it: "changing" your Thalys reservation would effectively mean buying a new Thalys ticket. If it is semi-flex, you have until Sunday to change it without penalty.
If buses on Monday won't get you to Brussels or Antwerp in time, there is still no need to go to Amsterdam on Sunday, you could change your hotel for the Sunday night from Ghent to Brussels. You could still visit Ghent (buying a ticket from Brugge to Ghent because if you have an ABS ticket, Ghent will now be your ABS departure point) by taking a train on Sunday first to Gent St. Pieters, leaving bags there while you visit the city, then taking a later train from Ghent to Brussels - but well before 21:00 hrs as the strike starts at 22:00 hrs on Sunday (belgianrail.be/fr/…greve-30-juin.aspx), stay overnight in Brussels and take Thalys as planned on Monday.Edited: 27 June 2014, 22:25
@havebeachwilltravel: Yes, get the #12 bus to its terminus at Place du Luxembourg, and from the very same stop you have the #27, direction Gare du Midi, which stops in the Sablon. It is the 2nd stop after you pass the Royal Palace: after the palace the bus stops outside the Old Masters Museum, ring the bell (blue button) when it sets off again and the next stop is the Sablon.
Thank you so much!! Are there luggage racks on the buses from the airport? Does a bus ticket include the transfer?
Edit: I reread your first reply and see that it would include the transfer. Are there only automated ticket machines at the airport? We have chip and signature cards (no pin) so I'm not sure if they'd work on a machine.... In which case I guess we'd just buy from the bus driver. I'm assuming we need exact change?Edited: 28 June 2014, 01:14
<Are there only automated ticket machines at the airport?>
<We have chip and signature cards (no pin) so I'm not sure if they'd work on a machine>
They wouldn't. You need a card with a PIN.
<In which case I guess we'd just buy from the bus driver.>
<I'm assuming we need exact change?>
Not necessarily - but the bus drivers aren't expected to change large notes. €10 note for €6 ticket should be OK, but €50 note probably not.
<<We have chip and signature cards (no pin) so I'm not sure if they'd work on a machine>>
<They wouldn't. You need a card with a PIN>
I should have said that the ticket machines also accept payment with coins, but not banknotes
Thank you so much. We are crossing our fingers that our debit cards will work in the airport atms. Otherwise guess we will have to exchange some dollars for euros.
I am so grateful to this board for the advance warning and the help planning. Thank you all!
"Are there luggage racks on the buses from the airport?"
The #12 Airport Express bus has luggage racks. However, normal city buses such as the #27 don't. There is an area designed for buggies/strollers/pushchairs and another where there are folding seats that can be used, with the seats folded up, for e.g. luggage: as well as a couple of raised areas where you can leave smaller bags. As long as you try to minimise the space taken up by your bags, and don't pile them in front of the door (I know it sounds obvious, but..) or on seats, you should be OK.
Thanks. It should be around 11 am or so, so at least it will not be during peak commuting times. But if we get to place du Luxembourg and decide we can't do the bus anymore, would we be able to hail a taxi from there? Or is there a taxi stand near there?
Yes, Place du Luxembourg is right next to a train station, so there are taxis in the square. They queue around the central part of the square, I'm not sure where the head of the rank is supposed to be (I think, the side where the European Parliament is) but just ask the first taxi driver you find when you cross to the centre and he or she will point you in the right direction.Edited: 28 June 2014, 12:13
Thank you! I'll report back.