We visited the caves during the last week of our three week tour of Europe. We'd had absolutely stunning weather down through France, across into Italy, up through Switzerland and Germany. Unfortunately we arrived in Belgium the weather was less kind to us, with drizzle and grim skies greeting us.
Anyway a cave visit seemed ideal to get us out of the miserable weather. Parking was limited in the town, and we did struggle to find somewhere to park. Once in the main building, it was bustling with visitors, and there were long queues at the ticket desks. We opted to use a touchscreen which was free to order our tickets.
We then walked to the nearby train, and had a half hour wait. When we approached to board the train, we realised that we should have left the pushchair in the building. My Wife fought her way through the queuing crowd, only to be met with very unwelcoming faces in the main building. No one wanted to help her. In the end she had to dash back to us at the waiting train with the pushchair in hand still. Not great customer service. It meant that I had to carry the pushchair the entire way around the caves, not ideal, and certainly not easy.
When we came to board the train, I'm carrying a pushchair, a toddler, and my Wife was carrying our one year old, coupled with two older girls who we're trying to make sure get on safely too. I've never come across such a "rugby scrum" and rude people who literally pushed past us. It wasn't a great start to the visit. As I struggled with the pushchair, and the rude folks pushing past me, I guided our three year old to a vacant seat, just then the whole train lurched forward throwing me, the pram, and my little girl flying. The rackety train took us to the cave entrance. I think ear defenders would've been in order.. what a incredibly noisy ride it was. Another thought on the train, and that was despite there been lots of people waiting, the young lad who was looking at tickets, only looked at ours and a couple of others... not very clever really. How many people boarded without tickets is anyone's guess.
The caves were stunning, but they are so immense that it felt like we were walking forever. We're not a family of lazy people who don't like to walk, but with a little girl who suddenly didn't want to walk any more, and a pram to carry it became a nightmare. Towards the end of the tour it became a bit too much, and personally I couldn't wait to get out.
There were other aspects to the tour included in our ticket price, but we chose to go back to the car.
It has to be said that when we left the caves, and walked out of the area, we struggled to get out bearings. There were no signs showing where to exit. We sort of just walked through the town, and eventually found the car. The exit of the caves is a long long way from the entrance building. Bearing in mind that you've taken a train to get there, there is no train back! Fine, we don't mind walking, but come on give us a clue as to where the 'eck we are, and just point us in a rough direction back to the building!! :-)
Tour guides spoke in French and Dutch, so for English speakers on the tour it wasn't very informative.
So to sum up, the caves are fantastic, but the train isn't, customers service in the form of being helpful is somewhat lacking, as was any form of signage to get us back to the entrance, but if you like caves, and a good long walk, then I'm sure you'll enjoy it. If you are a family with babies or toddlers, I'd bear in mind that this is a very very long walk for small ones... oh and remember to leave your pram in the car.
Thanks for reading.
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