Update on conflict in Eastern Europe, April 14, 2022
Ongoing tensions between Russia and Ukraine escalated Thursday, February 24, with Russia invading Ukraine, and USA, Canada, UK and EU member states (and other countries) announcing sanctions against Russia. At this time, the conflict is primarily between Russia and Ukraine. Currently, there is no direct threat to the European Union, specifically the ICAIS host countries of Belgium and the Netherlands, which are a substantial geographic distance from the area of conflict. Oostende, Belgium is considered safe.
Our thoughts are with those in harm’s way in the conflict area. We are taking the developments in Ukraine very seriously and will continue to monitor the situation as it unfolds. If the security situation changes with respect to our conference, we will inform you as soon as possible, as your safety remains our top priority.
Train delays between Oostende and Brussels due to construction – starting Saturday, April 23, 2022
Please note that there has been a recent announcement about construction along the railway lines between Oostende and Brussels for five weekends, commencing Saturday, April 23, 2022.
ICAIS participants who are departing Oostende for Brussels on Saturday, April 23 or later, should plan ahead for an earlier departure as delays will be at least 20 minutes or longer. Depending upon the number of travellers, if the train you plan to take is full, it will mean waiting for the next to arrive.
Coronavirus COVID-19 Information Update – March 9, 2022
Pandemic requirements continue to be lifted in the ICAIS 2022 host countries, and Belgium has moved to ‘Yellow’ on their COVID barometer, meaning no restrictions on the number of people in a meeting room, no face masks (except on public transportation), and no proof of vaccination requirements.
For those who intend to travel to Belgium to participate in-person during ICAIS 2022, please bookmark the following websites to access the latest government information about requirements and documentation pertaining to COVID-19 needed to enter Belgium and The Netherlands. It is important to note that all travellers entering Belgium must complete a Passenger Locator Form (PLF) within six months of the planned date of arrival.
For travellers who do not live in Belgium go to this link and scroll down to “I do not live in Belgium”.
Travellers who are participating in the post-conference tour on Saturday, April 23, 2021 should also go to this link to check on the requirements to enter The Netherlands.
As this information is subject to constant change, be sure to check for updates on a regular basis.
Oostende is a cosmopolitan city located along the shore of the North Sea in the Flemish Region of Belgium, and is considered the railway “gateway to Europe”. Daytime high temperatures in April are generally around 14°C (57°F) but can also be much warmer. Oostende is about two hours by train from the Brussels Airport.
Travel tips from Brussels Airport (BRU) to Oostende
Belgium is a bilingual country and in Brussels/Bruxelles all signs are in both French and Dutch. When you travel in Flanders (Oostende is in Flanders), Dutch is the official language but most residents also speak English.
Arrival at Brussels Airport (BRU)
Please note that there are two airports in the Brussels area. These instructions pertain to Brussels National Airport (BRU). The other airport is Charleroi Airport (CRL) and is further south of Brussels.
More info: https://www.brusselsairport.be/en/passengers/destinations
For those who want to rent a car, it is advised to make the arrangements in advance of you arrival in Brussels. More info: https://www.brusselsairport.be/en/passengers/access-parking/rental-cars/rental-cars
Picking up your rental car
Currently, the car rental desks in the airport arrivals hall are not open, due to COVID-19 restrictions, however this situation is subject to change.
Please check with your car rental company as to whether you should first visit their office in the Arrivals Hall, or go directly to the Rental Car Parking lot within the parking garage.
The Rental Car Parking lot is just a short walk from the Arrivals Hall. Simply take the elevator or escalator to level 0 and follow the ‘Car Rental Parking’ signage.
Driving directions to Oostende
Leave the airport via the A201 and follow the signs for Brussel (Bruxelles)/Ring/E19 and join the R0 orbital in the direction of Gent (Gand)/Brugge (Bruges) (NOT Namen (Namur)/Luik (Liège)).
Take the M40 motorway towards Gent/Brugge/Oostende and stay on this motorway for 93.5 km. Then keep right at the fork, continue to the A10 and follow the signs for Oostende.
Continue onto Verenigde Naties laan/N340. Take the Groendreef and Koninginnelaan to the Koningin Astridlaan until you see the hotel at your right side. The Thermae Palace hotel provides free parking for ICAIS participants with confirmed reservations.
Taxis will be available at all times outside the Arrivals Hall at level 2 of the airport.
Please be aware that taxis/cabs are very expensive in Belgium and a one-way trip from Brussels Airport to Oostende will easily cost you €150 and more. Taxis can possibly be shared by up to three people.
Brussels Airport train station
The train station is located directly under the Departures and Arrivals Halls, at level -1. The platform is easily reached by elevator or escalator.
With the train, you can travel from Brussels Airport to various Belgian cities or to neighbouring countries. At the Brussels Airport train station, you have to keep your ticket at hand because you have to scan it at the entrance gates to leave and enter the airport.
Taking a train in Belgium
Always buy your ticket before going on the platforms or boarding the train. On board the train your ticket may be checked by a train attendant. Tickets can be purchased with cash (Euro) or credit cards using the NMBS/SNCB app or at ticket counters and ticket machines in the railway station.
Smoking is prohibited inside the train station, on platforms and on board trains. Currently (as of 10 Feb 2022), facemasks must be worn inside the railway stations, on the platforms and on all public transport (trains, trams, buses).
There are two classes of train tickets (1st and 2nd class). First class tickets from Brussels airport to Oostende cost around €35.60 and 2nd class tickets €25.10 single fare. If trains are crowded there may not be sufficient seats for everyone, but those with first class tickets are almost always assured of having seats.
The travel time between the Brussels National airport and Oostende is between 1h 45 min and 2 hrs, and you have to change trains in Brussels (either Brussel-Noord/Bruxelles-Nord, Brussel-Centraal/Bruxelles-Central or Brussel-Zuid/Bruxelles-Midi) or in Gent-Sint-Pieters.
Train schedules on the platforms always mention the platform number and the final destination of the train (in the pictures below you can see that the train to Oostende will depart from platform 2 at 08h35).
In most trains, the stops are indicated on electronic boards (notice that the signage can be in both French and Dutch). Oostende is an end station, so you cannot miss this last stop.
Be aware that there are no catering services or Wi-Fi provided on board trains in Belgium. If you want to buy drinks and food to take on board for your journey, you have to do that in the railway station itself.
Most of the larger train stations have shops and restaurants, like Brussel-Noord, Brussel-Centraal, Brussel-Zuid en Gent-Sint-Pieters have restaurants. Other stations may have shops that sell only snacks, sandwiches or pizza.
ARRIVAL IN OOSTENDE
When you arrive at the train station in Oostende you can then travel to the Thermae Palace hotel by tram or by taxi. When the weather is nice, you can also walk to the hotel, the Thermae Palace hotel is about 2 km from the railway station so it should not take more than half an hour to get there on foot.
Travel by tram from the train station in Oostende to the Thermae Palace hotel
Follow the Exit ‘Uitgang’ and ‘tram’ signs. When leaving the train station and walking towards the station building, you will find the tram station on your left
Travel by tram into Oostende
When you are at the tram station, take the tram with destination ‘De Panne’ on platform 1. Tickets can be purchased with a credit card on the platform and on board the tram. Tickets cost around €2 and the trip from the train station in Oostende to the tram stop closest to the Thermae Palace hotel takes about 10 minutes.
After you have passed the first stop (Marie Joséplein), push the blue button inside the tram to signal that you want to stop (a red light will switch on) and get off at the next stop (Koninginnelaan). After leaving the tram, walk left for 200 m and you’ll see the Thermae Palace hotel at your right side.
Travel by taxi from the train station in Oostende to the Thermae Palace hotel
Taxis are available at all times outside the train station in Oostende at the Vindictivelaan. Ask the driver for the Thermae Palace hotel and you will be dropped off at the hotel entrance. The distance from the train station in Oostende to the hotel is about 2km and will take about 6-7 minutes. The cost will be €8-10.
THERMAE PALACE HOTEL
The hotel has three entrances (indicated in blue), two are accessible from the parking areas and one from the galleries and the beach.
The hotel check-in and the ICAIS registration desk are situated in the Hall (indicated in red).
If you have any questions about travel to Oostende please contact the Conference Administrator.