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Category: Travel

London Trip – Day 3

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More Hashing & Hammerton

Another day starting with a breakfast buffet, not to fuel me for a morning of museums this time, but for a mid-day run. Another kennel this time: the London Hash House Harriers. I packed all my stuff, put on my running gear, checked out, and headed to The Golden Fleece, where the run would start. More nice hashers—some the same as on Thursday—banter, a really nice, touristy trail, and of course some beer…

After the run I still had some time—although less than planned—to check off a few more beery places of my list. Caps and Taps and Indiebeer are primarily beer shops, so an excellent opportunity to fill my bag with a few cans to take home. Of course I also tasted a couple of the beers they had on draught…

My last stop this trip was the Hammerton Brewery, a microbrewery in Islington. Unfortunately the kitchen was closed, so I had to forego the pizza I was hoping for… The beers and cracklings were nice, though!

Eventually I made it back to St. Pancras International in time for my Eurostar back home.

So long London, is has been a blast, and see you again in a couple of months!

London Trip – Day 2

Culture, Comrades & a Ceilidh

After a big, hearty breakfast in my hotel—more than pictured—I was ready for a full day in London. I had planned some museums and exhibitions I hadn’t seen yet, and the first one was almost next to the hotel: the London Canal Museum.

The second stop was the library, to see the Treasures of the British Library. Among those treasures were the Magna Carta, and original manuscripts from Shakespeare, Dickens, and Austen. Great stuff, for a bibliophile like me!

I then visited to the British Museum for even older versions of the written word, in the exhibition Hieroglyphs: unlocking ancient Egypt.

After all that sauntering I was well overdue for a coffee, so I went to Monmouth Coffee for my fix. That gave me the energy for one more cultural stop: the Museum of Freemasonry. We have one in Brussels as well, but London being the birthplace of freemasonry, and quite a bit more traditional, so not to be missed!

Time for a pie—well, a sausage roll—and a pint—well, halves and thirds—at the Sutton Arms! It looks like a classic pub, but had quite a few modern craft beers on tap! From there I got on the new—for me at least—Elizabeth Line, and train line that has been long in the making, and provides a faster connection with the west of London.

And in the west I finally got to visit The Dodo Micropub, where I also met up with some London friends for a couple of beers. On the way back east I stopped at A Pint of Hops for just a couple more… Crowded, standing space only, but nice people, and great beer.

Properly sauced, I was ready for the main event of the evening, a Burns Night Ceilidh, my excuse to walk around in London in a kilt all day… Loads of fun, although a bit more chaotic than other ceilidhs I’ve been to.

Before finally heading back to the hotel, there was one more important stop: BrewDog Camden! After ‘a couple’ of beers with Ryan, I then called it a night…

London Trip – Day 1

Waterloo & West London H3

The last time I was in London for more than a couple of hours, is almost four years ago! So it was about time to visit again, and today I finally found myself once again on a Eurostar under the English Channel. Lots of queueing—the train was full—but at least the biometric gates now worked with my Belgian comic strip passport.

Since I didn’t have time for a coffee before my departure in Brussels, and because I had a bit of time to kill before check-in time, my first stop in London was at Redemption Roasters for—apparently—some prison-roasted coffee, and a piece of banana bread.

My hotel for this trip is once again the very conveniently located—right next to the station—hub by Premier Inn King’s Cross, where I’ve stayed once before, returning from one of my Scotland trips. A swift check-in, change into my kilt, and it was time to hit the town!

First up was Mother Kelly’s Bottle Shop & Taproom in Vauxhall. Their taprooms have been on my to-do list for years, but somehow I never made it… This one has 33 beers on tap, so it wasn’t hard to find some beers I liked! The music I didn’t like that much, so after two beers I moved on.

The second stop was the Waterloo Tap. The bar is part of the same family as the Euston Tap, my usual last stop before boarding the Caledonian Sleeper, so I thought I knew what to expect: a nice selection of keg and cask beers. I wasn’t wrong about that, but the venue itself was so much more open than the Euston Tap: it was basically a railway arch with windows put in on both sides!

Then it was time to visit BrewDog Waterloo. At that moment it was still the newest London BrewDog bar, but that would soon, very soon change… I’ve visited BrewDog bars of all sizes, but this one was just ridiculous: apart from the bar itself—with 60 taps—and a micro-brewery like we’ve seen in other Outposts, this location also has a separate coffee bar, a hidden cocktail bar, a podcast recording studio, duckpin bowling, and a slide! My stomach was still on Belgian time, so I seized the opportunity to give the Vegan Allstars menu a try, and had some Loaded Skins.

I didn’t want to eat too much, because the next activity on the schedule was a run with the West London Hash House Harriers. In The Old Star pub I quickly changed into my running kilt and shoes, and off we went! As usual wen hashing, I met a lot of nice people, and as luck would have it, it turned out to be a very tourist friendly trail!

The last stop of the evening was BrewDog Wandsworth, for its Equity Punk (pre-opening) night, that just happened to be during my visit to London. So yes, from now on, that is the newest BrewDog bar in London! I managed to chat to some people I’ve been reading on the EFP forum for years, and some I had met before, which was a nice way to end my first evening in London.

Yuletide Trip to Breda

After a largely failed attempt to enjoy Breda’s craft beer scene in 2020, I had more success this year! A train cancellation just before I was about to set off, didn’t bode well, but when I eventually got to Breda, all the bars I intended to visit where open, and serving a fine selection of local and not-so-local beers!

The coffee places were quite full, in this strange period between Christmas and New Year, so I decided to forgo coffee all together, and went straight for beer! On the itinerary for the afternoon were Zeezicht, Café Sam Sam, and Mr. Barley—which, in despite of its lack of bar, is not a self service bar!

Even though I had a decent brunch that morning, it was about time to line the stomach again before continuing with some more, quite strong beers. Being the peanut sauce fan I am, I picked out a satay place in the Foodhall Breda: Minang Kabau. It turned out to be an excellent choice!

The evening was then spend tasting many beers—one even straight from the tank!—in Brouwcafé Frontaal. It was quite empty when I sat down at the bar, but it filled up quite nicely behind me!

Then it was time to take the last train back to Brussels. It was quite a bit emptier than the train I had taken to get to Breda—train cancellations tend to have that effect on the next trains—so the journey home was pleasant enough, and uneventful.

24 Hours in Amsterdam

For an exam I might tell you more about in another post, I needed to be in Amsterdam last Friday morning. To avoid getting up very, very early to be there in time, I decided to already travel to the Dutch capital the day before, and spend the night there.

So after I fulfilled my work obligations in Brussels, I packed my bag, and headed to Brussels-South railway station, to catch my Thalys to Amsterdam. After arrival, and waiting thirty minutes for a tram that was supposed to come every six minutes, I could finally check into my hostel, CityHub. As you can see, the ‘rooms’ are quite special!

Bag dropped, I headed to a nearby Indonesian restaurant, Café Amoi. Boy, do I miss ‘Dutch’ Indonesian food in Brussels! I had the satay ayam, with some nasi goreng and a krupuk mix. And extra peanut sauce, of course!

After dinner I went straight back to the hostel to study a bit more, and get rested for the next day. I even resisted the temptation to have a local beer from the self-service tap in the hostel!

Friday started with my pre-booked hostel breakfast at The Breakfast Club. The exam itself only took about an hour and a half, so soon after I was looking for coffee already, which I found at Monks Coffee Roasters.

Then it was time for one of those Dutch staples, a ‘broodje kroket’. Although you can get them ‘from the wall’—yes, like a huge vending machine for hot snacks—one of the best places to have one remains Eetsalon Van Dobben. Since I thought it was still a bit too early to start dinking beer, I then played tourist for a bit, and bought ‘some’ liquorice to take home…

Although I was actually on my way to another coffee place, when I passed Het Lagerhuys, I couldn’t resist, and already had a first beer there. I did manage to get to Hummingbird for that coffee afterwards, though!

By then it was was—in my opinion at least—late enough to taste some more beer! The first stop was at Foeders, since that bar was the furthest from the centre. I love peeling and eating the peanuts there! You can usually tell by the amount of peanut shells on the floor how busy it has been so far, but that day, I was obviously the first to have had a crack at it.

From there I went to the Beer Temple—where I also had some ‘bitterballen’—Proeflokaal Arendsnest—with some ‘borrelnootjes’—and Bierproeflokaal In de Wildeman.

After all those classic bars—not much seems to have changed in the Amsterdam beer scene—it was already time to slowly make my way back to the station. However, I still had time for a final Surinamese dinner at Kam Yin!

Wien, Bayern & Berlin Reise – 10

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Back to Brussels

So the last day of my trip—the voyage home—went a little bit different than I originally planned. I actually knew that it would a couple of days ago, when Deutsche Bahn sent me an e-mail telling me the one of the trains I booked was cancelled, but I could use my ticket for other DB trains to get me home.

So I looked up another convenient combination of ICE trains, and booked seats on those, since my original seat reservations did no longer apply, of course. However, those were considerably later than my original trains, so I decided to add a late checkout to my easyHotel booking. That way I could sleep in a little, and leave my bags in the room while I went out for brunch.

For that, I went to Codos this time, where I had a very tasty breakfast burrito.
By then it was time to do a last bit of packing, and actually check out.

I did well reserving a seat on the train I planned taking, since it was absolutely packed, even in first class! Add to that the fact that about an hour before departure, they had to switch trains, so everyone with a reservation was assigned a new carriage and seat. As you can imagine, quite a few people didn’t see that e-mail before they boarded, so where clueless about where to sit…

I didn’t manage to book a solo seat, but since someone though you could reserve a seat for luggage as well, and used the seat next to me for that purpose, I kind of sat solo after all. I did have to suffer quite a few dirty looks from people who thought that those were my suitcases! Anyway, I was seated quite comfortably until at least Frankfurt Flughafen train station, and got started on watching Die Kaiserin, which seemed quite apt to finish this trip with.

In Frankfurt I had to change onto another ICE, and even had a seat in the compartment with the see-through wall behind the driver’s seat, but unfortunately it was set to opaque.. On this train I didn’t have a solo seat either, but the person that reserved the seat next to me between Köln and Aachen, never showed up.

By the time I arrived in Brussels—quite tired, after ten full days, and with a delay of over forty minutes—I had finished watching Die Kaiserin, and was ready to take the last few metros home, unpack, and organise my virtual and real souvenirs of this trip.

Wien, Bayern & Berlin Reise – 9

DDR & Döner

Last full day of my trip, better make it count, right? Well it did!

The day started with a breakfast at Zeit Für Brot again, after which I went to the DDR Museum. It was very crowded, on the eve of Tag der Deutschen Einheit (German Unity Day), and as far as I could tell, most of the other visitors were people that grew up in communist Eastern Germany, telling their children about how they actually know everything on display from first-hand experience!

After a coffee in what must be The Barn with the most impressive view, it was time for a visit to the Helmut Newton Stiftung. Hungry after looking at all the photos, I had some Leber Berliner Art at the Dicke Wirtin.

Beer o’clock? Beer o’clock! First, the Schneeeule Salon, for some Berliner Weisses. Then—after being unable to find it last time I was in Berlin—the Vagabund Kesselhaus. It was definitely better signposted this time, although the fact that is was still light might also have aided in finding it this time…

No visit to Berlin is complete without a döner kebab, so a quick stop at Kebap 63 before heading to the next beer destination was a must.

That next beer destination was Bar Amélie, a cocktail and beer bar I initially even didn’t remember of why I put it on the list. Looking at the tap list, however, it became immediately clear: this was the taproom of some excellent new brewers going by the name of Unverhopft. It turned out to be a very cool place, with enthusiastic and knowledgeable staff!

Last stop of the evening was at Mikkeller, since it’s right around the corner from my hotel.

Wien, Bayern & Berlin Reise – 8

DogTap Day

Saturday started with a grilled cheese sandwich at AERA, which was in the area. After that there was still time for some coffee at the new neighbourhood The Barn, but then it was time for the long trek I always make when in Berlin, to Mariendorf.

I was booked for the 13:00 brewery tour of BrewDog Deutschland, as it’s now officially called, which would of course included a little tasting as well…

Matt gave a great tour, and since all participants already knew BrewDog quite well, he deviated from the usual headliner tasting, and gave us some of the locally brewed specials to taste..

After spending quite some time at DogTap, and enjoying some spareribs, it was time to get back to the centre for a coffee at Five Elephant.

A short stop at Birra, and a visit to the Bräugier Brewpub, it was time to eat something