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Category: Travel

My Belgian Summer Holiday – Leuven

The last trip with my Off-Peak Unlimited train ticket was kind of a mini-trip, since I already had plans in the evening. So my destination was nearby, with a rather limited—but high quality—selection of craft beer places: Leuven!

After arrival in the quite modern but beautiful Leuven train station, my first stop was at Madmum Coffee Roasters, for an iced latte—it was a warm day—and some apple cinnamon cake.

The cultural part of the day was spent in M Leuven. They used to have a nice bar, with a great selection of beer, but this apparently is a thing of the past, so the art had to suffice…

From there, I went to Hops ‘n More. It primarily a bottle shop—so they’re open early—but they have a nice terrace and some beers on draught, and by sheer coincidence, there was a “Rare Bottle Fest” going on as well!

The next and already last beer destination was MALZ, and here too there was a special event today: a Jester King Tap Takeover.

On my way back to the station, I first stopped at Kebab Leuven for—you’d never guess—a döner kebab.

And that concludes my Belgian summer holiday, or at least the part with my special train ticket.

My Belgian Summer Holiday – Ghent

One of the last destinations with my Off-Peak Unlimited train ticket, was Ghent. I originally planned to go there on a Thursday, but I was unexpectedly called in to work, but this Wednesday was the only full free day I had, and all the bars I intended to go to, seemed to be open.

However, I didn’t check the museums, and as it turns out, Wednesday is a closing day for most museums in Ghent… So after walking to STAM, the city museum of Ghent, in vain, my first stop was then Koffeine, for some coffee and cheesecake.

A bit earlier than planned, I then continued my sunny and scenic walk to Dok Brewing Company for my first beers of the day. This taproom was actually the only one of my beer stops open this early, so I took my time to enjoy my beers, while waiting to move on to the a new bar.

Well, Café De Welkom might be new, but it used to be Brouwbar before. Now it is kind of the city centre taproom of Dok Brewing Company, and they completely overhauled the place. There are considerably fewer taps with beer here than in the actual brewery taproom, so if you’re keen on trying new beers, it’s best to go to the centre bar before you head over to the docks…

For dinner I went to Faja Lobi, originally a Surinamese restaurant, but over the years several cultures and styles have influenced the menu. But put anything with peanut sauce on the menu, and I’ll have that! So I had the chicken satays with spicy peanut sauce, with rice and salad. The drink I had with it was dawet, a quite tasty coconut milk based drink.

I then passed by Huzaar, which would have been another new bar for me, but it was unfortunately closed for some reason, so that discovery will have to wait until another time. Inevitably the next and last bar then was Bar Beenhouwer, with a banging beer list as usual!

From there I walked back to the station, to go home. Just one more mini-trip to go!

BRD: Beer & Running in Deutschland

My Belgian Holiday was interrupted the past long weekend, for a trip to Germany. The main destination was a hostel in Oberwesel, for the German Nash Hash—you know, drinking and running with half-minds from everywhere—but of course I seized the opportunity to make some stops along the way to visit some of the better beer serving establishments…

Thursday

On Thursday morning, I headed to Brussels’ international train station to hop on the direct ICE to Frankfurt am Main, my first stop and final destination for that day as well. At least, that was the plan… However, when I arrived in the train station, my train turned out to be cancelled, or at least its Belgian leg! There was another direct train two hours later, but when I checked with the DB staff at their information booth, they recommended me to make my way to Aachen on Belgian trains, and board the later ICE there, because it might very well suffer the same fate as my originally booked train (it didn’t…). So that’s what I did: a slow train to Verviers, and from there an even slower one to Aachen… Kudos to the NMBS for adding an extra carriage to that train to provide space for all those extra passengers!

As expected, I had to chase someone out of my seat, which I had reserved as soon as I knew I would be on this train. And just as well, since the train was fully booked by the time I arrived in Aachen!

So far, I had only seen the airport train station of Frankfurt, where I’ve had to change trains a couple of times on previous trips, so it was nice to actually see the city this time. Since I would actually spend the night in Frankfurt, I first went to my hotel to check in and drop off my bag.
Because of the two hour delay I had to cancel some planned stops, and started with the important things: crossing off one of the missing German BrewDog bars on my list, BrewDog Frankfurt. Even though the whole Beer Visa thing is on hold until the new version comes out, I had them stamp my booklet, just for the fun of it.

Then I had to get changed for a very peculiar hashing charity event: a Red Dress Run! It’s pretty self-explanatory: all participants dress up in red dresses and skirts and run trail like that, and part of the run fees and money collected on the way go to a good cause, in this case Brustkrebs Deutschland. I thought the term “dress” is a bit restrictive and doesn’t really cover everything that’s being worn by the participants on these runs, so I renamed it to “Red Unbifurcated Garment Run” for myself, while running it in a red kilt, of course!

After the run and obligatory Circle that followed, it was quite late, and by the time I had showered, changed, and made my way to the first craft beer destination that night, it was already 23:30…

Not surprisingly, when I entered Taphouse Frankfurt it was already time for last call.
After taking the tram to the last stop, it was already past midnight, and sure enough, I had already missed last call at Naïv… Luckily they took pity with me, and served me a beer after all. I should definitely revisit both bars earlier though!

Friday

After a nice breakfast at the hotel—fried Leberkäse is really tasty!—I still had some time before I would have to check out. So I went to Bunca Barista for my coffee.

Checked out and bag retrieved, it was then time to get on a train to Wiesbaden, to visit the only German BrewDog bar I hadn’t been to yet, BrewDog Wiesbaden! It was still rather quiet—I arrived only minutes after opening—but they were oh so friendly. I didn’t even had to ask them to stamp my Beer Visa, they were there with the stamp as soon as they noticed the booklet!

From Wiesbaden I had to take the rather touristy and very full MittelrheinBahn train to Oberwesel.

At the Oberwesel train station I was lucky: there was still some space in the shuttle up to the hostel, even though I didn’t book it. Once arrived on top of the hill, I checked in, and German Nash Hash could really start!

Saturday

Most of the Saturday on these Nash Hashes are dedicated to a trail, usually a bit longer than your usual weekly hash. Well, there are usually different lengths available, and such was the case at German Nash Hash too. I had registered for the ‘long’ trail, which would be between 13 and 20 km. On the definite program it was listed as 19 km, but in the end it turned out to 21,5 km, with 709 meters of elevation…

The theme of the evening party was “Bacchanalia”, so I had brought my thirty year old toga—dyed for the occasion—and the linen tunica and caligae I still had from my army reenactment days. I even brought an earthenware poculum to drink my wine from! Yes, wine, since it suited the theme better, and Rheinland-Pfalz is a wine area after all!

Unfortunately—well, it might be for the better—I don’t have any photos of this part of the evening.

Sunday

After a party like that, the Sunday run is of course the Hangover Trail. It was only 4km, with a bubbles stop somewhere in the middle.

After closing Circle it was then time to catch the train to Köln.

In Bierhaus en d’r Salzgass I had some Päffgen Kölsch vom Fass, and Himmel un Ääd (black pudding, fried onions, mashed potato, and apple sauce). I intended to go to some craft beer bars after that, but they all seem to be closed on Sundays… So I just had some more Kölsch instead!

I didn’t have to suffer any cancelled trains for the remainder of the journey, and could just take the direct—albeit delayed—ICE to Brussels.

My Belgian Summer Holiday – Namur

Some unexpected illnesses at work, and summer breaks of breweries I didn’t know about until yesterday, meant I had to shuffle around my trip planning a bit, so today’s trip was to Namur.

According to the forecasts, it was going to be a wet, windy, and sub-20°C day, so for the first time since I was in Aberdeen—almost two months ago—I had to take the Barbour off the coat rack again…

After arrival at Namur station, and navigating my way through the construction site that the station square apparently is, my first stop was at Coffee & More. Here I dodged the worst downpour of the day, while enjoying a coffee and a piece of cheesecake.

Although it hadn’t stopped raining yet, I then started to make my way up the hill to the citadel of Namur. After the first couple of steps uphill, I noticed there was actually an aerial cable car all the way to the top. I couldn’t be bothered to go back to the other side of the river to use it though, and honestly, considering the afternoon I had planned, I could probably use the exercise…

Unlike the one in Lille, this citadel is largely open to the public. There even was a visitor centre—Terra Nova—with lots of information about the history of the city and the citadel. Most important thing to remember: in despite of its long history, most of what you see of the citadel, was (re)built by the Dutch in the 19th century…

After descending back to into Namur centre, I went for a first couple of beers at La Cuve à Bière. Only InBev on draught—the curse of the hospitality industry in Belgium—but some interesting cans in the fridge nevertheless, and the barman was very helpful in finding some nice beers.