To Ticket or Not to Ticket

We have just spent a weekend in Antwerp.  This is a lovely city and the weekend was marred only by the strong winds that blew from across the North Sea. That and the tram driver and the Flemish tickets.

The Unexpected Traveller, smiling, against a blue sky

The Unexpected Traveller

We were hurrying along towards a tram stop with the specific intention of purchasing tickets from the machines that you sometimes find on the platform when the tram we wanted turned into our street. Figuring that we could always buy tickets on the tram (albeit at a slightly higher cost), we broke into a run and caught it just in time.  Slightly out of breath, I walked up to the driver’s cabin and asked for two tickets. For good measure, I placed a € 5.00 note on the little counter to help clarify my poor French.

The driver returned my money with a stern look and barked something in Flemish at me. I stuttered and was just trying to see what was wrong with my French when he repeated himself in English: “No tickets. Use a machine please”.

We had to get off at the next stop, buy a ticket at the machine and wait for another one to come along. In the cold.


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  1. Well, in many countries you cannot buy tickets on the bus/tram, eg Italy. In Belgium you normally can, but not in the city centres. All in all, it depends on the bus driver (as they have to sell tickets in the suburbs, if he likes you he can sell you a ticket even if not allowed). Unfortunately, you started talking in French, and some bus drivers might have an aversion for that, so they’ll be even less inclined to break the rules.
    Anyway, next time just tell him the machine is broken. If he steps off to check, you are in trouble though :-)

    • unexpectedtraveller

      Hello Benny,

      Quite right – thing is this: firstly, we were used to buying tickets on the tram in Brussels. Secondly, we had not yet realised that speaking French in North Belgium may not be a good idea!

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