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My Belgian Summer Holiday – Antwerp

Usually I do my big trips in spring and autumn, but that doesn’t mean I don’t go anywhere in summer. When the Belgian rail company launched their Off-Peak Unlimited ticket—all-you-can-travel for 31 days—I seized the opportunity (again) to plan some trips within Belgium, and slightly beyond… It’s also a great opportunity to put my Museum Pass to good use!

The first destination was Antwerp, mainly because they have quite a few nice beer bars I just don’t go to often enough.

As usual though, the first stop was at Cuperus Coffee. It might actually be the last time, since apparently they’ll be closing that location in the near future…

From there it was just a short walk to the Snijders&Rockox House. It is actually made up of two restored historical buildings, and named after Nicolaas Rockox and Frans Snyders, two key figures in Antwerp during the Baroque era. This museum is now filled with 16th and 17th-century art and objects, evoking the everyday world of their 17th-century residents.

The next destination was Het Steen, the oldest preserved building in the city. The Antwerp Story, an exhibition you normally have to pay for—but luckily not with my Museum Pass—was supposed to be all about the history and identity of the city. However, unless I missed something, it was actually just promotion for all the other museums of the city… At least I got to see the inside of Het Steen!

After all that art, history, and promotion, it was time for beer, starting at the nearby Café Pardaf, followed by Café Ernst, just a couple of doors down the street.

Since the slightly underwhelming exhibit at Het Steen meant I started dinking earlier, I really needed something to eat, to tie me over until dinner time. For this I went to Loa Streetfood, for just a bit of Korean fried chicken. In my experience, that usually means either some boneless chunks, or wings. However, in this case I got a bowl of full-sized drumsticks! All of a sudden, the price made a lot more sense…At least now I was ready for one more bar, The Northerner. I was never actually inside this bar, and despite the nice beers they have, it’s definitely a sports bar as well…

My actual dinner was fish and chips at Bia Mara. You can’t go wrong with that!

The evening programme consisted of Billie’s Bier Kafetaria—an Antwerp craft beer classic—Station 1280, and conveniently close to the train station, Beerlovers Bar.

Before leaving you, I’d like to share a very Antwerp phenomenon: street corner Marias! I don’t know any other city that has this…

By the way, over the coming month I’ll have some more day trips like this coming up, to Lille—not Belgium, I know—Bruges, Ghent, Liège—well, mostly Misery Beer Co.—and Namur. Recommendations for bars, breweries, and places to eat are always welcome!

Brussel Breweries Tattoo Tour 2023

When I just had my Brussels breweries tattoo in 2022, featuring my seven favourite local breweries, I celebrated the occasion by visiting them all in one epic taproom crawl
Because that first edition was such a success, on the first Saturday after the 15th of June—the date I got my tattoo in 2022—I did it again!

This time around I was a little bit better prepared, and had stamp cards printed in advance, as well as iron-on patches, and stickers.

Again, there was a great turnout, and four people made it all the way to the end with me, two of them for the second time!

Mark your calendars for next year: the Brussel Breweries Tattoo Tour 2024 will be on Saturday the 15th of June 2024!

FyneFest Trip – Day 12

Reached this post by just scrolling through my blog? 
If you want to read about this trip from start to finish, instead of in reverse order, click here!

Heading Home…

Eventually, there’s always that day you have to go home, and today was that day…

The original plan was to have breakfast at Snax Cafe, the very first I ever visited in Edinburgh, fresh off the MegaBus on my first trip to Scotland. However, it seemed I turned up just during their morning rush, and there was no space to sit at all. So the alternative was a breakfast with an Indian twist at Dishoom, a restaurant that had been on my to try list for a very long time. I picked a simple bacon and egg naan so it wouldn’t take too much time, but I’ll definitely go back there to try some of the other dishes!

From there I went straight to Edinburgh Waverley Station to catch my LNER to London Kings Cross.

With a couple of minutes delay, we arrived in London, where my first stop was One Shot Coffee for my daily dose of caffeine.

At BrewDog Camden I met up with Ryan to enjoy the last couple of beers of this trip, and some Buffalo dirty fries, since I’d be on the train during dinner time, and arriving in Brussels too late to still eat.

Getting to and checking in at the Eurostar terminal went without a hitch, only for the departure of the train itself to be delayed… Only a couple of minutes though, and the train to Brussels wasn’t even very full! Arrival in Brussels was just about ten minutes late.

So, that’s it, almost two weeks of travelling through Scotland, with some hashing, copious amounts of delicious food, and lots of beer!
Until next year, Scotland? Of course!

FyneFest Trip – Day 11

Last Stop in Leith…

Thursday: my last full day in Scotland, and I was going to make the most of it! First order of the day though, was a nice toast with scrambled eggs and bacon at Fortuna Coffee Bar. Coffee as wel, obviously…

Around the corner was the Georgian House, again a National Trust of Scotland property.

From there it was quite a bit further to the next NTS location: Newhailes House. This place can only be visited if you book a tour, so I had done so. However, when I arrived there, it turned out I was the only one on the standard tour, so they offered to ‘upgrade’ me to a more extensive tour half an hour later. Which I happily accepted!

Since I was near the seaside already, my next stop was the Porty Vault in Portobello, Vault City Brewing’s second taproom.

From there it was just a short tram ride to Leith, the new hot spot for craft beer in Scotland..

The Newbarns Brewery taproom was first up, quickly followed by that of Moonwake Beer Co. The last stop in Leith was not a brewery, but a bar: Dreadnought Leith.

By that time I desperately needed food—especially since the Porty Vault didn’t have the smoked sausage subs I was hoping for, or any food, for that matter! Being in Edinburgh, it of course had to be Wings, to check off some more flavours on my list. Choice of the evening: 8 Flames, Thunderstruck, Taps Aff!, and Maximilian’s Molten Mounty, the three hottest sauces on the list, plus one a bit less hot… The 8 Flames definitely had a kick, and would still cause some tears later that night while taking out my contact lenses!

Last stop was of course BrewDog Edinburgh, on Cowgate, the bar that changed my perception of beer forever!

FyneFest Trip – Day 10

Tartan & The New Town

Breakfasts in Aberdeen just don’t seem to work out as planned for me: after being too late yesterday, I was too early today! As it turns out, BrewDog Union Square only opens at eleven nowadays, which was too late for me today…

So instead, I resorted to some breakfast at Black Sheep Coffee, where apparently they combine high-tech touchscreen ordering with low-tech name shouting.

No beer for breakfast either, so I was in Aberdeen station early, and luckily so was my Scotrail train to Dundee.

Arrived there, I left my very full bag at a Stasher location again. The reason for my stop in Dundee, was the temporary Tartan exhibition in V&A Dundee. While I was there, I of course also went to see the Oak Room, one of Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s most important interiors, formerly one of Miss Cranston’s famous tea rooms in Ingram Street, Glasgow.

After that cultural intermezzo, I went to BrewDog Dundee for a pizza—with mustard?—and some beers, before resuming my journey to Edinburgh.

This was actually the first time I crossed the famous Forth Bridge by daylight, as far as I know!

After arrival in Edinburgh I checked in at hotel Travelodge Edinburgh Central Rose Street , and after unpacking a bit, I immediately changed into my running kilt, since it was almost time for my last hash this trip!

The start of this The New Town H3 run was at the pub Bennets of Morningside. From there it went up, up, and again up, it seemed! Well, we actually went up, since we reached the top of Buckstone Snab at some point, and the views from there were amazing!

After getting back to the hotel for a shower and a change, I popped out for a couple of beers at the nearby Fierce bar, and at The Black Cat.