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Tag: train

Just a Day in London

It’s easy to forget how nearby London actually is: just a two hour train trip from Brussels! So even though I already have a longer trip to the Big Smoke planned later this year, I decided to pop over for a day just to visit the British Museum for an exhibition which was about to close very soon. And of course, while I was there anyway, have a couple of beers…

The trip didn’t start off too well: the Eurostar which would take us to London already had a fifty minute delay even before it arrived in Brussels. Apparently there were some signalling problems between Amsterdam and Rotterdam… Since there was no way to make up for that delay en route, and I would miss my scheduled coffee stop, I did something I had never done done on a Eurostar before: visit the bar carriage and get a coffee there!

After arrival, there was just enough time to walk to the British Museum for the exhibition I came for: Legion: life in the Roman army. Being the Roman (military) history geek I am, I found it definitely worth coming over for! There were some artefacts I had only ever seen on photos before, and I quite liked how the visitors kind of followed the career of one specific soldier throughout the exhibition.

After the visit, it was time to enjoy the sun—we were definitely lucky in that department—and sights of London a bit: the parks, the architecture both old and new, the monuments…

The walk ended at Borough Market, the perfect place to grab some lunch. I went for a classic: some Scotch egg with black pudding and pork and Stilton pie from Mrs King’s Pies, apparently already in business since 1853!

Right next to Borough Market is The Rake. It’s a beer bar—well, you could say the OG craft beer bar of London—that had been on my lists for many years, but I just never made it there, until today!

Just a day in London is shorter than you would expect—especially with the long check-in times recommended for Eurostar in London—so I then already made my way to Camden, to be on the safe side. And a visit to Camden of course means a visit to BrewDog Camden! Not a lot of new beers brewed by BrewDog themselves, but the staff recommended me some excellent guest beers!

Basically just across the canal from the station, in the Coal Drops Yard, there is a bottle shop—well, can shop actually—where you can drink in as well: the House of Cans. A really nice selection of canned beers indeed, so since I only had time for one beer, I also bought a couple to take home.

Ten minutes after leaving I had already checked in, and all that was left to do, was to wait for my Eurostar to Brussels. No delays this time, so just fifteen hours after leaving it, I was back home again…

A Beery Birthday in Rotterdam

A midweek public holiday in May was for me an excellent occasion to check out the newest additions to the craft beer scene in Rotterdam. Coincidentally, it was also my birthday, which meant I could claim a free birthday beer here and there…

After taking a very full train—even people standing in the corridors—from Brussels to Rotterdam, I really needed a coffee! There were definitely some decent coffee bars nearer to the station, but to get me closer to the rest of the locations I planned to visit, I decided on Urban Espresso Bar West this time. Breakfast was already more or less digested by now, so I had a nice piece of salted caramel cake with my cortado as an early dessert.

For the main dish, and to add another name to my long list of visited BrewDog bars, I then went to BrewDog Witte de Withstraat. The place was much larger than I expected from a bar in this street, but I was almost alone inside: the sun was shining, and terrace therefore more popular. After finishing my The Big Pastrami One pizza, I spent quite some time here, since none of the other bars I planned on visiting would open before 4pm… And I did get to enjoy my first free birthday beer!

Completely different, and way more local, was Kaapse Will’ns, the newest bar of the Rotterdam brewery Kaapse Brouwers. With just a limited number of taps, it tried to stay true to its origins as a traditional, local bar. Considering the number of people still asking for a Heineken, I’d say they succeeded! Funny detail: one of the tap handles actually says “Heineken“, but it’s the tap for sparkling water…

In the next bar—Bierboutique—the taps with “Heineken” on them actually did serve the horrid beer, and most of the other taps were from the same producer… The bottle and can list however was way more interesting, and I was able to try some more interesting local beers.

As last stop of the day I revisited the BrewDog Rotterdam Outpost. It wasn’t that busy when I came in, but considering the number of booked tables that would later fill up, it was probably smart they actually booked a table for me as well! One of the nice things of an Outpost is a selection of unique beers, brewed on-site. They were actually brewing while I was there! That beer obviously wouldn’t be ready in time to have as my free birthday, so I had another one instead.
For dinner I had the local special Brews Springstew, a six hour slow cooked stew with beef cheek, onion, celery, carrots, and Black Heart stout, served on a bed of fresh fries. Very nice, but I could hardly finish it!

When all the beers were tasted, it was time to head back to the beautiful Rotterdam central station, and take the train home…

Dutch Work Party – Return & Reflection

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!

And then it was Sunday, and time to go home again… Bags packed, room cleaned, checked out, and it was time to walk into the village for the last time, to go to the station. Goodbye Kandersteg!

I had to take a regional train to Bern two hours earlier than I originally booked, which meant I had some time to walk into town for a coffee.

From Bern my EuroCity was supposed to go straight to Köln, but after standing still before and in Basel Bad for way to long, the train staff urged us to change onto one of the ICEs at other platforms. Just as well I took their advice, since the updated arrival time of the EC would have meant I would have missed my connection in Köln.

In Köln I arrived not much later than my EuroCity should have, so eventually the only train going as planned was my ICE 10 to Brussels…

Reflection

Even over ten years after the last time I was at KISC, it felt like home again straight away! The staff, my fellow members of the Dutch Work Party, the mountains… Seeing people of so many backgrounds and nationalities work together for a common goal, is truly inspiring, and it’s been a real pleasure and privilege to be part of that again.

It was also nice to wear my neckerchief again for a week, and actually do something hands-on for scouting again, and not just meetings and writing, even though that has its place as well.

So while I fully intend to help out with the 2027 World Jamboree in Poland in whatever capacity, I’ll definitely try to squeeze in another Dutch Work Party before then!

Dutch Work Party – Back to Switzerland!

For the first time in a little over ten years, I’m off volunteering at the Kandersteg International Scout Centre again! I joined the Dutch Work Party for this four times before—spring 2008, autumn 2008, spring 2010, and autumn 2013—but studies, work, relationships, and just bad timing kept me from returning… until now. As the only participant from Belgium, I offered to travel to Kandersteg by myself by train. This conveniently also enabled me to plan a extended stop in Bern for some beers…

As usual for trips to the east, the first leg of the trip was an ICE to Köln. You’d say by now I know how to get in Brussels Midi station on time, but thanks to the Brussels public transport company, this turned out to be quite a challenge: the metro broke down four stops before the train station, so when it still wasn’t moving after five minutes, I decided to call an Uber for the last bit. With only a minute to spare, I eventually made it onto my ICE

After grabbing some breakfast in Köln station—it was only a quarter past eight by then—I boarded the EuroCity 7, going straight to Bern. No solo seats on an EC, but the passenger who was to sit across from me from Koblenz, never showed up! My seat was all the way back in the last carriage, so I noticed the door with a view to the back, giving me the opportunity to do film from it, like train vloggers do!

Since this train also had a dining car, and I would be travelling until well after lunchtime, I decided to take full advantage of it and already get a taste of Swiss cuisine with some Ghackets mit Hörnli and a Möhl Shorley.

Due to accumulating delays however, my comfortable EC 7 was terminated at Basel, so I had to change onto an Intercity for the remainder of the trip to Bern.

After eventually arriving in Bern and putting my bag in a locker, I headed to VERSA for a proper coffee! The delay meant I didn’t have to spend a lot of time there killing time until the bars would open, and playing tourist was reduced to a minimum as well.

The first bar on my list was OnTap. They had quite an interesting list of beers from all over the world, but I of course had to start with something local: A Slice of Red by Riot Act Brewing, a brewery in Zollikofen, a suburb of the city of Bern.

Next up was Biercafe au Trappiste. As you can imagine, they do like Belgian beers here, and it was actually the only Swiss location to celebrate Cantillon’s Zwanze Day, today! Unfortunately the event would only start at nine in the evening, and even flashing my tattoo didn’t help to get an early taste of the Zwanze 2024… Still, I had to drink a Cantillon as well!

The final bar before getting back on the train, was the beer minded metal and rock bar Ebrietas.

Bag picked up, back on the train—an SBB RegioExpress this time—and an hour later I arrived in a rather cold and very white Kandersteg.

From the station it was then a twenty minute walk to my home for the next week: the New Chalet of KISC.

New Spring Beer Festivals

The beer festival season has well and truly started for me! After a very enjoyable trip to CBFS24 in Stuttgart in February, I visited two more beer festivals in Belgium I had never been to yet: The Beer Experience in Zolder, and Fest’IPA in Namur.

The Beer Experience – 24-25 March 2024

First up was The Beer Experience, which I visited on the 23rd of March. I arrived quite late—it was a two train trip, all the way to Zolder—so it was in full swing by the time I entered. There were lots of familiar faces, bot among the visitors and the stand holders, but more importantly, also a lot of breweries I hadn’t tried any beers of yet!

The location was quite special—an old mining site—and I didn’t quite get around to exploring all of it. Neither did I had the time to ‘experience’ all aspects of the festival fully, with its art exhibits spread out over the buildings, since there were simply too many beers to try! I did get to enjoy some of the live music, though!

This definitely is a festival I will visit again, and allow a bit more time for next time!

I also skipped the food trucks for once, since I had my heart set on something I can only get the way I want it in Limburg, it seems: a döner kebab in Turkish bread that doesn’t get squished in a panini grill, and with green peppers on the side. The appropriately named snack bar De Mijn had exactly that!

After a beer festival, train trips with a change to get home are always a bit risky, but I didn’t miss any connections, and made it back to Brussels without a hitch.

Fest’IPA – 19-20 April 2024

The next discovery was Fest’IPA in Namur. I already discovered that Namur has something to offer for beer lovers, but I hadn’t been to any events here yet. Fest’IPA is an event by Namur Capitale de la Bière, the organisation behind the festival with the same name, but also some other beer events in the city.

The location for the festival—La Nef—was already quite special. It was in fact the desecrated Notre-Dame church of Namur, but a lot of the artwork was still in place.

No entrance fee, no tokens, just one bar with six beer pumps and a couple of fridges. Apparently that’s all you need, since I had a great time tasting some of the beers they had selected. If I didn’t have to get up early the next morning, I would happily have spent a couple of hours more!

So that’s another, completely different, beer festival to look out for next year!