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Author: Martijn

Day 2 – Venezia

After having breakfast in the train, we arrived in Venice, with a slight delay, but not bad for a 14 hour train ride. The moment we left the train station, we were astonished by the crowds we immediately ran into! After we dropped our bag off at another NannyBag location, we made our way to the San Marco square the only way one should: by boat.

The lines at the Palazzo Ducale were already crazily long, and considering we didn’t have that much time left before lunch, we instead just strolled through the city, through tourist-free streets, where possible.

For lunch I had already booked a table at Taverna Scalinetto well in advance, and there on their backyard terrace amidst locals instead of tourists, we very much enjoyed local specialties bigoli in salsa and fegato alla veneziana con polenta.

In the afternoon we payed the Scuola Grande Di San Rocco a visit: no lines at all.

Our last port of call was beer bar Il Santo Bevitore, where we had some beers on the waterside.

It was then time to move on to the city we will spend the next two nights: Bologna.

After checking into our B’n’B, we tried some classics from the region in Trattoria Da Me: tortellini in brodo, and lasagna alla bolognese.

A quick visit to BrewDog Bologna, and then off to bed!

Day 1 – Paris

The first day of a trip is always such a busy day, especially if you want to make the most of the stops along the way. It started off quite relaxed though, comfortably waiting for our train in the Thalys Lounge.

Once arrived in Paris, we dropped off our bag at a NannyBag point, and continued to the first BrewDog bar in France: BrewDog Le Marais.

After lunch, we went for coffee at Ob-La-Di, and stocked up on cheese at Fromagerie Jouannault.

Our only real French beer bar of the day was Hoppy Corner, but it didn’t disappoint! A bit less French, but on our list anyway, were BBP – Pigalle and Mikkeller Bar Paris.

In the end, we had to hurry a bit to catch our Thello sleeper train, but we made it!

Bye bye Britain!

We wanted to eat something very British as our last meal in the UK, so we went to Piebury Corner for a meat pie and a Scotch egg.

It’s also conveniently close to the station where we’re taking our Eurostar back home, for the last time in the foreseeable, uncertain future of this island…

When things turn sour…

A last museum: the Postal Museum.

We then visited the Mikkeller bar, to get a taste of their sour Baghaven beers. I can totally see a collab with OverWorks happening someday!

Last day, last stamp

After two busy days, we’re taking it easy today: sleep in—it’s not very often we stay in a hotel where check-out is at noon—and enjoy brunch at our last stampwanking stop: BrewDog Canary Wharf.

Sippin’ in the South

An important part of this trip, is visiting newly opened craft beer destinations, which leads us to the southern part of London.

But first: coffee, at Federation Coffee this time. Then it’s time to collect a stamp and have some beers at BrewDog Brixton, until yesterday, BrewDog’s newest bar in London.

Anspach & Hobday only had their brewery taproom, until recently, but now they have The Pigeon, a pop-up bar serving a lot of their own beers, and a nice range of beers from other interesting breweries. And while we were down there, we visited the new Brew By Numbers taproom and Brick Brewing as well!

Bite, bed & beer

After the festivities in Paddington, we headed back to East London to grab a bite, and to finally check into our hotel—hub by Premier Inn—but only to drop off our bags… The night was still young, so we visited one more bar to have a few more beers.

EFP Preview

We’ve been to quite a few BrewDog bars, and even have one in our home city, but somehow we’ve never been to an official opening night or EFP preview. Until now, that is: by sheer luck, BrewDog Paddington is opening during our visit to London, and we’re on the guest list for the special EFP preview tonight!

Places of worship: coffee, Mithras & beer

The places we usually go for our daily dose of caffein tend to be on the smaller side, but Host is something else: it’s in a church!

After coffee, we quickly visited another place of worship: a mid-3rd century mithraeum, nicely reconstructed underneath the Bloomberg headquarters.

Finally it was time to worship our own god—beer—at BrewDog Outpost Tower Hill. We had only been there for breakfast before, so today we finally have the opportunity to see it when it’s beer-o-clock!

Meat & Museums

It’s going to be a long day, so we started with a hearty lunch at MEAT Liquor. Their restaurants had been on our list for quite some time, but the proximity to St. Pancras station and the weekday lunch deal, made this the perfect opportunity to finally try them! It turned out to be great value for money, and the fast service meant we were back on the street in no time, ready to continue our day in London.

We visited quite a few museums in London already, but until today, the Museum of London escaped our attention. Unrightfully so, because it is the perfect place to learn about the history of London, providing context for a lot of other museums and monuments we did visit before.

A last pre-Brexit trip to London

When we left London last time we visited it, we already knew we had to return soon, to get a stamp from then-about-to-open BrewDog Canary Wharf. However, a lot can change in half a year, and now we have not one, but three new BrewDog bars to visit—one of which will have its official opening during our visit! Apart from that, we also hope to have some drinks in the new Mikkeller bar, and the Anspach & Hobday pop-up The Pigeon.

Last year’s arduous bus journey was an effective reminder to book our train tickets earlier this time, and after taking advantage of a New Year’s offer, this must be one of our cheapest Eurostar trips so far!

Viaggio in Italia: Trains ✓

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You might have noticed we don’t really like to fly. For our trips to London, a train has always been the most logical choice: faster and—when booked well in advance—cheaper than flying. For our trip to other destinations in the UK, Berlin, and Prague, the price was still competitive most of the time, but journeys like that take a bit longer already. Our Italy trip in late spring, however, is taking the train craze to the next level.

No fewer than ten different trains will take us to and through Italy! And you can take ‘ten different trains’ almost literally: one Thello sleeper, one Trenitalia Regionale Veloce, one Trenitalia InterCity, one Frecciabianca, one Frecciarossa, one Italo train, one Trenitalia EuroCity, one TGV Lyria, and two Thalyses!

The trick of keeping a trip like this affordable, is booking each of those journeys as soon as they become available, taking advantage of all kinds of Super Economy and Mini fares. Considering the different booking windows the rail operators use, this means it actually took several weeks to get it all sorted!

The only setback was the direct Milan-Paris TGV we planned on booking: it never appeared! We finally found out that specific TGV wouldn’t run this spring due to railroad works, so we’ll be making a little detour over Zürich. Apparently there is a very good beer shop in the station, so we don’t really mind… 😀

Our B&Bs are all booked as well, so we’re now all set for our ten day Viaggio in Italia!

Back to Brussels

Victoria Coach Station was the usual chaos and crowdedness I remember from my Megabus trips. Our Flixbus back to Brussels was late to start with, and boarding took ages. On the plus side: we would be crossing the Channel by ferry this time, so plenty of opportunity for decent meal!

Goodbye London, see you again soon!

Big Smoke Badge: 9/9!

The last day in London, time for one more BrewDog bar to complete the challenge!

So we had brunch in BrewDog Shoreditch, to recover a bit from the previous day, and we received the coveted ninth stamp. We decided not to claim the pint of Punk IPA we had earned straight away—it was still a bit early for pints—but to save it for whenever we can visit the soon-to-be-opened BrewDog Canary Wharf. That way, we can sort of earn the Big Smoke Badge twice, making it 10 bars out of 10!

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Bermondsey Brewers & Bars

Assuming the BrewDog bars would be too crowded on a Friday night, we decided to spend the evening on the Bermondsey Beer Mile, hoping for slightly fewer people, and to check out a couple of new places.

Since BrewDog got involved in the Hawkes Cidery, we decided to give their craft ciders a try at their taproom. The guys from Anspach & Hobday regularly visit Brussels, now it was our turn to visit them.

London Calling Sweden is a bit special, since their beer isn’t made on the Mile, or even in the UK! It’s brewed by Poppels in Sweden and imported. No brewing in the Moor Beer Company Vaults either, since that’s all done in Bristol, but at least the beer made it to London!

Big Smoke Badge: 8/9

No more delays, time to get some more stamps in our Beer Visa!

A quick visit to BrewDog Soho, and then continue to the last bar new to us: BrewDog Seven Dials.

Then the last visit of the day for the badge; BrewDog Clerkenwell.

Flat Iron & Flat White

Art makes us hungry, so we headed to Flat Iron for the thing they do best: flat iron steak, or butlers’ steak, as it should probably be called in the UK.

Very tasty—no sauce needed—and the free salted caramel ice cream was quite welcome on a hot day like this!

For our coffee, we prefer to visit specialists, so after lunch we went to TAP Coffee No. 193—or should I already say Department of Coffee and Social Affairs?—for our daily shot of foaming caffeine. Too bad they used disposable plastic cups for our iced coffee…

Bacon & Bathers

We started our day in BrewDog Tower Hill, the biggest bar in the chain, since it opens earlier than any other, and it serves breakfast. Bacon rolls for the win!

Another attraction of the bar is the full-size brewing installation, technically making this the only—at least for now—BrewDog brewpub. Since the beers brewed there are only available in that bar, we had to try some, even if it wasn’t even noon yet…

Since we didn’t want all of our trip to be about beer, we also visited the National Gallery. There were so many paintings there I had to learn about for an exam just a couple of weeks ago! For instance: these Bathers, the first by Paul Cézanne, the second by Georges Seurat.

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