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Tag: tourism

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!

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.

From there I went to Craft Beer Market Namur. As you would expect with a name like that, it’s half beer shop. The other half is an actual bar though, with some bangers on tap! In hindsight, it was the best beer destination I’ve discovered in Namur.

Since I ended up drinking double IPAs and imperial stouts again, a sensible next stop was at snackbar Cat’s Corner. Or is it Kat’s Corner? They don’t even seem to know themselves, since I’ve seen both spellings there and online… The food was nice though, a bit different from the usual chip shop fare. and definitely did the trick in absorbing some of that alcohol!

After dinner, the program was cut a bit short, since one of the places I intended to visit just had their summer break, and the other one—Le Chapitre—wasn’t putting much effort in it either… They had nothing available on draught, and even from the can and bottle list on the chalkboard, they seemed to be missing of quite a few… That, and their cash-only policy, meant I left after just one beer.

Considering I have an early day tomorrow, it wasn’t even a bad thing that I was back on the train just after 20:00…

My next post will not be about My Belgian Summer Holiday, since I’ll be off to Germany for a couple of days! However, after that, there are still some more Belgian excursions to come.

My Belgian Summer Holiday – Bruges

So today I went to Disneyland… Oh wait, no, to Bruges! Although the amount of tourists didn’t differ much… Seriously, when I got off the train, hordes of tourists went the same direction, like they wanted to get on the same ride as me…

Somehow, I did manage to shake most of them off, and I had a relatively tourist free coffee and cake at Li O Lait.

After that, my first stop was at the Gruuthuse museum, home to majestic tapestries, colourful stained-glass windows, elegant wooden sculptures, historic lace, Burgundian manuscripts and Chinese porcelain. Most interesting of all, were the private access way to the adjacent church, and the loggia with a great view of the city.

The Volkskundemuseum (Folk Museum), gave some insights about ordinary daily life in Bruges in the 19th and early 20th century.

After that little trip to the past, the first been stop was at De Garre, which was remarkably hard to find, especially considering I had been there before!

Easier to find, and definitely less touristy—but stil fully booked—was Café Rose Red, where they always have some interesting beers on the menu.

After that I went underground to have some beers at Le Trappiste.

By that time I really needed to eat something… My originally planned venue, and even my first backup turned out to be closed, but prepared as I usually am, I had a second backup—Cropains— where I had a tasty chicken and bacon wrap for dinner.

Then there was still one place to visit, one that had been on my list for quite a long time: De Kelk. Their beer list is excellent, and I could easily have spent the rest of the night here, but I didn’t want to risk stranding somewhere in Flanders… So after having some of the best beers on the menu, I made my way back to the station, and home.

My Belgian Summer Holiday – HOPZ!

So I originally didn’t plan to post something about this day trip to a beer festival. However, this festival—HOPZ!—turned out to be quite different from many others…

For starters, it was a bit further away—all the way in Hamont, the very end of a train line—necessitating a train change, which can be quite risky… (I might post about my Van Moll Fest adventure after all, to illustrate this point)

But secondly, it wasn’t the kind of beer festival where you meet the same persons you meet at every beer festival. I actually didn’t see a single familiar face! Some of the attending breweries were familiar though, but from at least half of the breweries present, I hadn’t tried a single beer yet.

Most of the breweries present were Belgian, although there were some Dutch breweries and one German brewery as well.

Quite a pleasant surprise was their glass cleaning policy: just go back to the bar where you received your glass initially, and you’ll get a freshly cleaned and rinsed glass each time you hand in your dirty glass!

They published their beer list well in advance, so I knew there would be plenty of new beers to try. Most of the beers on my list were above 7% ABV though, so it was quite a challenging list to get through…

With the help of some snacks, I did survive it though, and eventually successfully got on the train I intended to take. I even managed to not miss the train change in Antwerp Berchem! Having a peanut sauce soaked dinner probably helped…

My next day trip: Bruges!