The weather becomes grey as the train speeds through France. The frost-tinged gold of the English fields has given way to deeper browns and greens, and dark clouds hang ominously in the sky. A little further on and the hum of the train's motors and whistling of the air around it is joined by the soft patter of rain as droplets are streaked across the windows. The further the train gets, the wetter the landscape seems to become. By the time we reach Belgium, the sky looks positively evil.

The train approaches Bruxelles Midi/Brussel Suid now and the sky is beginning to clear at least slightly. Brussels is of course known as the heart of the EU, as well as for having a statue of a boy urinating (the Manneken Pis). The EU side of things is probably of more relevance to this site - since 1989, the formerly divided Europe has become increasingly united, something which Germany has been keen to drive forward.

The Eurostar arrives at just before 11:00 Belgian time. With plenty of time to spare before the connecting train leaves, there's a chance to wander round the station a bit. Top on my list of priorities is finding somewhere to recharge the laptop, as the last few hours of activity have really eaten into the battery life. Unfortunately the data connection has been non existent between the time I entered Belgium and now (I'm actually posting this from just east of Liege). The only other option for internet access in the station seemed to be a fairly pricey wifi hotspot with a minimum period of 24 hours. Though I've often thought I should spend more time in Brussels, I don't fancy spending a day sat in the station with my laptop cheekily plugged into a power socket which seems to have been left free by the removal of a vending machine. So, sorry to anyone who's been sat there on tenterhooks waiting for updates, I did my best!

Now, despite still being in Belgium, I'm already on German soil...or German carpets at least. That is, on one of Deutsche Bahn's ICE (InterCity Express) International services:



The ICE International in Brussels


At the moment this one just runs between Frankfurt am Main and Brussels and Belgium (they also have ICE trains running to stations in France, Switzerland, Austria, the Netherlands and Denmark), but Deutsche Bahn seem keen to take advantage of new EU legislation next year, which will allow them to run services to London St Pancras.

Next stop, Cologne!

Well, I've reached France!

Of course GPS trackers don't like tunnels very much, but I think you'll still get an idea of where the tunnel is. There's not a lot to be said about the journey through the tunnel itself, there's not a lot to see! In fact, it's so monotonous that the Eurostar trains are built with smaller windscreens than normal trains, so that the drivers don't get mesmerised.

My route now will be across northern France, then into Belgium, where I'll change trains in Brussels. With any luck, there should be plenty of time for an update then.

The train races through the flat Kent countryside; I clock its speed at an eyeball-smooshing 186mph at one point. The morning is pastel coloured, with mist still creeping its way across the fields.

We'll enter the channel tunnel in a few minutes. It's funny to think that the first attempts at building a rail tunnel between England and France were in the late 1800s, around the same time that St Pancras station was built (though the idea went back even further, to the beginning of that century). It wasn't until 1994 that the current channel tunnel was completed though, the first attempt having been aborted, partly out of concerns of it being difficult to defend from invaders. It just shows how different Europe is now, that it's possible to build such a tunnel.

Anyway, see you on the other side!

The statue of John Betjeman with a Eurostar behind it

The sun is quickly rising over London and St Pancras International is very much awake, bustling with people.

The first time I came here in 2007 was a bit of an anticlimax; it had been opened to great fanfare a few weeks before, but it was really barely ready. The floors were still dusty from the building work and the Eurostar departures area was dark and rather featureless.

I have to say it's improved since then, even if what they claimed to be Europe's longest champagne bar is actually a rather uninteresting little hut (sure, there are tables laid out for a long way alongside - but not accessible from - the Eurostar platforms, but the bar itself seems rather ordinary). Can't say I'm much of a champagne bar person anyway.

Still, the journey to Berlin begins...they've just called the train up for boarding, so I'd better dash!

It's been a long couple of days...

The beginning of the journey is just a few hours away, yet questions of "are you packed yet?" are likely to be met with an exasperated "not yet" from me. Having dragged equipment round for concerts and video shoots the past couple days, I have to say the first thing on my mind is spending some hard earned quiet time with a cup of tea.

Still, the site is all up and running and I'm looking forward to putting all the technology to the test tomorrow. With any luck, you'll be hearing from me again sometime after 7 tomorrow morning, from London St Pancras, the first point of the journey. I'll then try and post at fairly regular intervals along the way, keeping the GPS trace on the map updated at the same time (it should appear as a red wiggly line). See you all then!

What are you going to be doing on November 7th? How about coming on a virtual journey across Europe with me?

With the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall this year, Berlin's history is coming increasingly into the public eye at the moment.

This site will document my progress as I make the 700 mile journey across France, Belgium and Germany to Berlin by train in November this year. The map at the top of this page will be updated along with this blog along the way, adding pins to the map to show you where I'm posting from, so you should be able to see how far I've got!

When I get to Berlin, regular updates here will give you a virtual look around the city, with photos, descriptions, facts and perhaps even a few multimedia surprises!

Richard

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Did you lose a mobile phone near Nollendorfplatz U-Bahn today? It's been handed into the BVG office in the station :)
33 weeks 3 days ago
Hast du heute ein Handy in der Nähe vom U-Bhf Nollendorfplatz verloren? Es wurde bei der BVG im Bahnhof abgegeben :)
33 weeks 3 days ago
Still one place left on tomorrow's Building East Berlin tour for anyone who likes to do things last minute! http://t.co/ktmk6hn0zV
36 weeks 20 hours ago
Now you've read about Karl Marx Allee in @slowberlin's 100 Favourite Places book, explore it with me on Thursday! http://t.co/gJKlknKXjg
36 weeks 5 days ago
RT @slowberlin: Join @journeytoberlin for a one-off Architecture & Urban History in East Berlin tour on Thu Nov 28 -> http://t.co/6R7p1XxLfy
36 weeks 5 days ago