Brussels has been cold, grey and damp lately.
holiday weeks at home with a toddler and a baby, I was longing for a family activity outside the home.
We decided it was high time to pay a visit to Train World, the train museum which opened in Schaerbeek a bit more than a year ago.
Guys, it was more than worth it.
On its website, Train World describes itself more as a train opera than a railway museum. And it is true that there is something very theatrical about it.
One could hardly expect a museum on Belgian railways to be spectacular and scarcely imagine a stage production with huge old machinery, but Train World manages to tell its story with drama.
It all starts in Schaerbeek station, a completely renovated Art Nouveau building, a few minutes away from the city centre with public transportation.
Until 16th April it is mostly dedicated to the temporary exhibition “Tintin in Train World” and hosts several original plates of Hergé’s comic strips featuring the important role of the trains in Tintin’s adventures.
Then you get through a yard to the new museum complex and are immediately immersed in a dramatic atmosphere : darkness, profound music and those impressive locomotives, from the first steam engine to royal carriages and the Trans Europ Express.
The history of Europe’s oldest railway network, the technologies that have succeeded each other, the people who made it all possible (from Belgian inventors to the railway men and women)… are staged in a sometimes poetic, always educational manner.
Projections, reconstitutions of scenes, the possibility to touch and climb on the machines and even to drive the train of the future on a simulator make the visit fun for adults and kids alike.
And you have the industrial architecture of the building, the metal structures, the huge windows which connect it to the actual railway station…
The museum’s scenography has been designed by the Belgian cartoonist François Schuiten and those who, like us, are fans of his work will recognize with great pleasure his very personal mark on the whole exhibition.
Finally you can end up this great family visit by grabbing a bite in the museum’s restaurant-brewery “RN Express”, which serves tasty Belgian brasserie-style dishes in a kids-friendly atmosphere.
Or just a beer.