It is a stunning fall day and with an special Momma and Babatwo morning ahead we decided to get ourselves down to the new Train World in Schaerbeek. If you have a major train lover on your hands then you might want to think carefully before taking them to this over-the-top mecca of traindom because it is very possible that their heads might actually explode. As a medium train appreciator myself, I was still blown away by the sheer volume of the collection and impressive attention to detail. It is truly is a captivating experience.
We arrived around opening time (10 – 17:00 everyday except Monday) and walked right into the ticket office. Very well organized entrance where you pay the fee (10 EUR for adults and FREE for children under six) and receive a map, ticket which you scan to get entry to the different buildings and a handheld devise which provides commentary in English, German, French and Dutch.
The entry takes you into the oldest remaining train station in Brussels built in 1887. Here you can catch a glimpse of the evolution of the ticket office including original tickets, train conductor uniforms and some neat model trains. I have to admit, I was already pretty satisfied that my 10 EUR was well spent but truly we have not even scratched the surface.
Exiting from the rear you walk a bit to the right into the modern building constructed for the museum. We scanned our ticket, opened the door and were immediately engulfed in a whole new world. The first space is dark. Really very dark and the music is tense, suggesting a scary but bold adventure ahead. Looming in the darkness were six large and fully restored engines dating back to the 1830’s. For me this was good fun. I loved the little spine tingle of this foreign environment. For the little guy, not so much. Poor thing was scared nearly out of his wits and to be honest, never fully recovered until we exited to the bright sunshine of the outside world.
So needless to say, we beat a fairly quick path through the rest but I was both seriously impressed and mentally book marking all the things I wanted to more fully explore when I come again. The museum traces the history of train engines, train lifestyle and travel, track development, and yes, even has a train simulation which was a hit based on the number of pushable buttons alone. Each exhibit is thoughtfully put together, creating a fascinating and immersive environment. It really shows off the best of the best of modern museum experiences that can blow us away even when coming from a high tech and high information lifestyle.
Although it was a little scary for my almost two year old (he’s a little afraid of the dark to begin with), I would still recommend this experience for the toddler and kid set. It is beautiful, interesting and just enough hands-on to keep them going to the end. With friendly opening hours and excellent value for money, this is a spot you can visit again and again, each time finding new surprises. And how do you get there? By train of course. Choo, choo!
Where: Train World, Prinses Elisabethplein 5, 1030 Schaarbeek
When: 10:00 – 17:00 everyday except Monday. Be warned last tickets are sold before 15:45 so that you have time to enjoy the full experience.
How much: 10 EUR for adults and FREE for under six. 7.50 EUR for 7-26 and older than 65.