It was already a while ago since I’ve last taken a train, quite possibly it was my trip to Breda, but finally I found myself in one again, albeit quite an empty train, and masked all the time… But the borders are open again, even for tourism, so I decided to go to Rotterdam again, where a new BrewDog bar opened, quite courageously in the middle of the corona crisis.
Breda is right across the Belgian-Dutch border, and they have a nice brewery there, so I’ve wanted to visit it for quite some time. After a couple of futile attempts to find a travel and drinking buddy for this trip, I finally went by myself this random Saturday in February. Only, it turned out to be not just a normal Saturday…
In the south of the Netherlands—Brabant, Gelderland, and Limburg, to be precise—carnival is a kind of a big thing. I should have known it was the opening Saturday of carnival that day, because I grew up in Limburg… However, it had completely slipped my mind. Only after seeing people dressed up on the train platform where I was to take my train into the town centre, it dawned on me…
Fourth day in Berlin. Mainly recovering from the third day (breakfast at Cô Côwas helpful, as was our dinner at Altes Europa), but also check off some more bars from our list (Stone Brewing Tap Room & Mikkeller), and say our goodbyes to BrewDog Berlin Mitte.
Third day in Berlin started off with a proper breakfast and a visit to the Deutsches Historisches Museum. Then coffee at 19grams, a trip to the east end of the city, and a stuffed, oven baked potato at Patta, followed by beer, lots of beer… (Hops & Barley, Straßenbräu, Labor Berlin, and Protokoll)
Our second day in Berlin was all about BrewDog’s first European AGM. You can’t start a day like that without a proper foundation, so we started off with a real Berliner döner kebap at Rüyam Gemüse Kebab!
After a broken down ICE train, we arrived in Berlin an hour later than planned. Still, after checking into our easyHotel Berlin, we had time for a quick drink at BrewDog Berlin Mitte, before having a delicious dinner at Chicago Williams BBQ.
Today we left Italy to go home again, taking the final three trains of this #TenTrainTrip. A quick beer stop in Zürich at Drinks of the World—only to take home this time, not to drink in—and another changeover in Paris.
However, this stop didn’t quite go as planned: instead of having beers and dinner in BBP Canal, we went hunting for my wallet, which had been stolen from my not-so-safe ‘train’ backpack… And that after eight days without any problems in the Italy with my PacSafe sling…
According to the Tile in my wallet, it was last seen near metro Bastille, but after looking for it for a while, we had to give up so we wouldn’t miss our train home. We eventually reported the theft with the police in Gare du Nord, just before our Thalys home.
Our last day in Italy turned out to be the hottest as well, ironically in the most northern Italian city we’re visiting: Milano. From our B’n’B on the Piazza Leonardo da Vinci, we went to the Leonardo da Vinci exhibit in the technology museum: Museo Nazionale della Scienza e della Tecnologia “Leonardo da Vinci”.
The Piazza del Duomo was even busier than usual, because there was a big stage for the Festa della Repubblica celebrations, so we quickly headed to the Porta Ticinese and Naviglio Grande area for some beers at Tutti Fritti and Al Coccio.
When all other bars we were interested in turned out to be closed, we went to the Hops Beer Shop, before going south again for our own last supper—ossobuco and cotoletta alla milanese—at Osteria del Binari.
After two more beer stops at Bere Buona Birra and Hop, an antique tram brought us back to our B’n’B for our last night in Italy…
Today we visited the Museo Archeologico di Napoli, to see all the stuff they moved out of Pompeii. As a future archaeologist, learning about the importance of the correct recording of all finds, it is quite frustrating to see that for many of the finds from Pompeii, they now have to guess where exactly it was actually found… Still, nice to see so many famous mosaics and frescoes for real at last!
For lunch we had a real pizza napoletana, and a pizza fritta. Indeed, my Scottish friends: “We’re gonna deep fry your pizzas”, is no threat at all, for the Neapolitans!
After lunch, we did a bit more sightseeing, since we hadn’t seen much of Napoli in daylight yet. Ugly apartment blocks and quadracycles immediately reminded us of Oostende, but we have to admit, the sea view was quite a bit nicer!
Our last stop was NaBeer, one of the newest—and probably smallest—craft beer places in Napoli, serving beers from local brewery VentiTré on draught.
After that it was time to catch our Italo train to Milano. Since the price difference at the time of booking was negligible, we even even had the pleasure of enjoying this almost five hour trip in Prima class!
Once checked in in our Milanese accommodation, we briefly popped out again to visit one of the Birrificio Lambrate bars.
Our first day in Napoli, we didn’t actually spend a lot of time in the city, but on the sites of the Pompei and Herculaneum excavations, checking at least one thing of my bucket list.
When we returned to Napoli in the evening, we first visited Ventimetriquadri for some top quality coffee. For dinner we had a cuoppo di terra from Friggitoria Vomero.
Then it was time for—not surprisingly—beer, provided to us by Murphy’s Law, Hoppy Ending, Mosto, and Il Birraiuolo. This little pub crawl also learned us that Napoli is quite big, and the height differences can be huge!
We started our first full day in Rome with the obligatory visit to the Colosseum, complete with tour, and the Forum Romanum.
For lunch we had porchetta at Pane & Vino. I have to say: this Roman snack with crispy bits beats the Florentine lampredotto hands down!
Of course we had to visit the Imperial Fora as well, in particular that of my favourite emperor Traianus, before we had our first beer of the day at Johnny’s Off License, a beer shop where you can drink in as well.
In the evening we first visited the bar that once was the only craft beer bar in town: Open Baladin. We then crossed over to Travestere for Ma Che Siete Venuti A Fa’and Bir & Fud.
Today we left Bologna early in the morning to spend the day in Firenze. Starting with another NannyBag drop off, in a hotel this time, where they even lent us an umbrella for the day when it started pouring down right when we were about to leave.
The tickets for the Galleria dell’Accademia we’re already sold out when I tried to book them two months ago, and the line at the ticket booth went all around the block, so we just had a look at the David in front of the Palazzo Vecchio instead.
After not even being able to sit down for coffee, and having our panino co i’ lampredotto standing up as well, we decided to visit BrewDog Firenze a bit earlier than planned, just to get out of the rain! After a couple of beers and a nice chat with the staff and other beer geeks, it stopped raining, so we could continue our tour of Firenze.
We also visited the Palazzo Pitti, were the lines were remarkably short for a museum with great interior decorations, and paintings from both Flemish and Italian masters.
To conclude the afternoon we went to Archea Brewery, which turned out to be more a nice bar, than an actual brewery.
For dinner we went to Osteria Del Cinghiale Bianco to try two other florentine specialties: papardelle al Cinghiale and bistecca alla Fiorentina. It tasted as good as it looks!
After the exchanging the umbrella for our bag again, we took the Frecciabianca train to Rome.
After arriving at our B’n’B Rhome86, we nipped out again for a nightcap at BrewDog Roma.
On our day in Bologna we had our first real Italian breakfast: caffè and some sweet pastry standing at the bar.
After that we headed into town, but we seemed to have forgotten to account for Monday being a closing day for some museums… Still, we enjoyed visiting the Biblioteca Comunale dell’Archiginnasio and it’s Teatro Anatomico and the part of the Museo Civico Archeologico that was still open.
For lunch, we had to have a piadina at La Tua Piadina, and we didn’t regret that decision at all!
After spending some time in the student neighbourhood and the farmers’ market that happened to be there, we went to one of the two Zapap TapRooms.
For dinner we went to Ranzani 13, a name we knew from events at Moeder Lambic and BXLBeerFest. We were quite—positively—surprised to be served something quite different from the pizzas usually served at those events!
In the evening we went to beer bar Il Punto—they surely love Belgian beers there—and BrewDog Bologna again. We didn’t understand much of the stand-up comedians performing, but the atmosphere and beers were great!
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!
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!
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!