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A Belgian Holiday – Part III

For the last part of my Belgian holiday, I stayed close to home, in the old duchy of Brabant, and I went to Mechelen on Saturday, and to Antwerp on Sunday. It was a weekend well spent.

Mechelen

To get a bit of a walk in before the beers, I got off the train one stop early again, in Weerde. This way, I got to enjoy a bit of green before entering the town. When I arrived in the centre, it seemed just about everybody wanted to spend the day outside—and rightfully so—but luckily I found a free table at Sister Bean, to enjoy a coffee and and apple crumble.

When it comes to beer, it seems De Floeren Aap is the place to be in Mechelen nowadays. Needless to say, I spent quite some time on their terrace, to try some of their vast selection of canned beers. Not for too long, though, because I had a race the next morning…

Brussels Nature Run

Sunday morning I had my first ever running event: Brussels Nature Run! It was also the first time I ran somewhere not completely flat, so that was a bit of a challenge, and I almost regretted choosing the 16K instead of the 10K… It all worked out in the end, and I’m quite happy with the time I made.

Antwerp

The last day of my Belgian holiday, I spent in Antwerp. Because this was actually supposed to be my last day in Scotland, I went kilted on this occasion. I selected Antwerp for this last stop, because I knew there would be plenty of beer places to visit, and beer people to meet.

My first stop was at Billie’s Bottle Shop. Its little beer garden was already packed, but with a bit of improvisation, I eventually had a nice spot to enjoy some of Stéfan’s excellent selection of beers.

Next up was Station 1280, which had set up a terrace on a nice and quiet courtyard. Then it was time to discover a place I had never been before: The Northerner. Their draught beers were pretty standard, but here again, a very nice can list! The pulled pork sub was very tasty—and at that point very welcome—as well.

My last beer stop was, as usual, because of its proximity to the train station, Beerlovers Bar. Saying goodbye to Ben, and to Antwerp, also meant the end of my Belgian holiday.

A Belgian Holiday – Part II

For the second part of my Belgian holiday, I went to Wallonia. The beer world still seems to be a more old fashioned here—both when it comes to bars and breweries—but luckily there are some exceptions.

Liège

My day in Liège started again with a bit of a hike. The south of the country is a bit more hilly than the north, so there was a bit more climbing involved. At least that provided me with a couple of nice views as well!

After reaching the city centre again, it was time to nourish and refresh the body: coffee at Darius Cafe, a waffle—I was in Liège after all—from Une Gaufrette Superlipopette, and some beers at BeerLovers’ Café. I would have liked to have a couple at Wild Lab as well, but contrary to what they had told me before, they weren’t open…

Misery Beer Co.

Two days later I passed through Liège again, on my way to Comblain-la-Tour. From there I hiked to Misery Beer Co., as I did once before, but from a different direction this time, starting at the Comblain-La-Tour train station.

Once arrived at Misery, I spent a wonderful couple of hours there, enjoying a beer that had long eloped me, one that was just released that day, and some of their classics. If there’s one brewery I regret not participating in the crowdfunding of—”it’s in the middle of nowhere, I’ll never make it out there”—it’s this one… They always make me feel so very welcome, and their beers are outstanding!

A Belgian Holiday – Part I

Last Friday, I once again found myself in Bruxelles Midi station in a train. This time however, I wasn’t on a Eurostar, but on a regular Belgian, suburban train. I had some days off work for my long awaited Scotland trip, but since I didn’t feel like going into an expensive quarantine for ten days, I postponed that trip for the third—and hopefully last—time. Being quite the optimist when it comes to travelling however, I waited right until the last minute to make that decision, and by then it was already too late to cancel my days off…

Gueuzerie Tilquin

So I decided to stay in Belgium, the only place I could freely travel about, and last Friday, instead of whizzing underneath the Channel on my way to London, I was cycling alongside a canal, on my way to Gueuzerie Tilquin.

Strong headwinds, in combination with a heavy, 7-speed Blue-bike, made the trip a bigger effort than I envisioned, but the destination was worth it: Tilquin had been celebrating their ten years of existence over the past couple of weekends, and this weekend was the last one. I enjoyed a couple of flights, and had a chat with Pierre, before the winds—and a train from Halle—took me home again.

Leuven

On Saturday I took a train to Leuven, or actually to Veltem, two stops before Leuven’s main station. That way I could get a couple of kilometres under my belt, before reaching my destination of the day: beer shop Hops ‘n’ More, which was hosting a tap takeover by Croatian brewery Nova Runda. The walk to Leuven was nice enough, and mostly dry, but by the time I reached the center, it was pouring down… I even had to cover my beers while heading for shelter under a just-too-tiny terrace umbrella, to prevent them from diluting too much!

Ghent

On Saturday I went to Ghent. There are plenty of beery places there I’d been longing to revisit since lockdown started again, but a day in Ghent of course had to start with a nice coffee, accompanied by a donut this time, at Full Circle Coffee.

Then onwards to Dok Brewing Company, Brouwbar, and Bar Beenhouwer, while enjoying some more sights on the way. Luckily, the weather was a whole lot more pleasant—and dry—than the day before!

Liège & Manoir de Harzé

With one round trip left on my free government issued Rail Pass, and a museum assignment to complete, I decided to go to La Boverie, a museum in Liège, so I could take a nice walk in the Ardennes afterwards. So this dreich Sunday, I got on a rather empty train to Wallonia and spent my morning in the museum, and fruitlessly walking through the city looking for an open espresso bar.

In the afternoon I travelled on to Aywaille, and walked to Manoir de Harzé, home to the great Misery Beer Co., which I had visited before last summer. I had rain, hail, and sunshine during my hike, but it was sure nice to be able to be outside, in woods and fields, without a mask. Upon arrival, I had a couple of cold beers (the shop was still open, and I bought a glass as well), before heading home again with a backpack full of beer…

IC Hamburg – Köln & ICE Köln – Brussel

Train route from Hamburg to Brussels, over Köln

My first leg of the journey was on an IC train. I’m not sure if it’s typical for this type, but it felt quite a bit older: lots of fake wood, actual curtains, no airconditioning… Next time I’ll try to make sure I only book ICEs!

And like it was on purpose, to rub in the fact that I had to cancel a large part of my trip, there was a ÖBB Nightjet waiting in Köln station!

The last leg was a proper ICE again, and even in seat 61! Perfect temperature, comfy seat, loads of space, and Komfort Check-in again! No clue how they actually check it, but every time I used it, they’ve always passed me by during ticket control.

Well, that was it, I’m almost back home! Hopefully next trip will be a bit longer again…

Four Hours in Hamburg

So what do you eat when in Hamburg? #RedHerringAlert Apparently the most typical thing to eat is Fischbrötchen, so that’s what I had once I reached the docks. I first had one with Fischfrikadelle, but although nice, it felt a bit like cheating: it’s just like cold fish fingers with tartare sauce on a bun. So for the next one I picked the real thing: Kräutermatjes, or spiced, soused herring!

My after-lunch coffee was at Playground Coffee. Unfortunately they were only serving in single-use cups—why?—and I wasn’t quick enough to offer them my KeepCup

Then it was finally time to get a new stamp in my Beer Visa, at BrewDog St Pauli! There I also had the pleasure to chat with Paddy, whom I had thus far only seen in a couple of Zoom beer talks, organised by BrewDog during the severest weeks of lockdown… I had scheduled time for just a short visit to Hamburg, so after that pleasant meeting, I had to hurry to the train station again.

ICE Berlin – Hamburg

Train route from Berlin to Hamburg

This Sunday morning I was in Berlin Hbf again. No, I wasn’t there to catch a train home yet, but one to Hamburg first. I was a bit early—getting up and checking out of your hotel can be so much quicker when you’re travelling alone ?—but luckily I found a nice coffee place just outside the station, Tucano Coffee.

Now it’s just a short ride to Hamburg, so I’ll be arriving there soon!

Livin’ it up Friday night

I felt like chicken tonight—not the sauce popular in the nineties—so I went to Die Henne, where they basically serve one dish: half a crispy fried chicken. Just add some Kartoffelsalat, and that’s a meal!

Tonight’s bars were HOME Bar, and the best place to end the night—at least that’s what I’ve been told—Protokoll. There I met up with friends I already knew, and friends I had just met, and I stayed there until half past three…

Back in Berlin

So almost exactly a year after my last visit, I’m back in Berlin! After checking into easyHotel Berlin—same as last year—and dropping off my baggage, it was time to get some food in my belly.

When I visited Berlin the very first time, I already visited Markthalle Neun, At the time, they were already closing, so I didn’t really have the opportunity to check out the market itself. This time round, however, it was Street Food Thursday, meaning the food stalls were open late! Of course, brewery Heidenpeters was still there to provide me with some beer to accompany my dinner…

While I was in the neighbourhood, I paid a quick visit to Hopfenreich, before heading back north of the Spree river again.

The newest kid on the block—only soft opening tonight—is the Manifest taproom. Unfortunately, they only accepted cash their first night, which severely limited my time there. But they had a dog, so that’s a plus at least. And their beer menu, that was impressive too!

The shortened visit to Manifest at least give me the opportunity to visit Message in a Bottle as well.

A bit closer to the hotel, and already familiar, were BrewDog Mitte, and the Mikkeller bar. In the latter I finally had the an opportunity to have my Mikkeller Passport stamped!

Off to Berlin!

Wait, what? Straight to Berlin? What happened to Wien and Budapest? Well… because Hungary suddenly closed its borders for tourists, I had to change my plans a bit. The sleeper train adventure has been put on hold for now, and on this trip I will only visit Berlin and Hamburg, meaning I’m going straight from Brussels to Berlin. I’m still keeping it classy though: first class tickets all the way!

As usual, I had to change trains in Köln, giving me the opportunity to quickly grab something to eat. Don’t be afraid to ask them to put your order in your own reusable packaging, even abroad! No time to grab my usual coffee in the coffee bar just outside the station, so a train coffee had to do… Really nice of Deutsche Bahn to serve it in proper cups, at your seat!

Now just a couple more hours of podcast listening—I was running behind a bit anyway—and enjoying the view, and I’ll be back in Berlin!

?̶?̶?̶?̶?̶?̶?̶?̶ & Berlin Trip

It’s—finally and hopefully—almost time to take another trip!

The recent reinstatement of the direct sleeper train from Brussels to Wien was too good of an opportunity to pass up, and a very convenient—and safe—way to get to Budapest, the main destination of this trip. Of course I will also spend some time in Wien itself, and I’ll be taking the long route back, spending a two more nights in Berlin, and a couple of hours in Hamburg.

Not surprisingly, this trip I’ll be collecting a couple of new stamps in my BrewDog Beer Visa again—at BrewDog Budapest and BrewDog St. Pauli—but this time the first stamp in my Mikkeller Passport as well. Of course, wherever I go, I’ll try to visit some local breweries and beer bars, and enjoy the the local specialities as much as I can!

Camping Misery

On the first day of August, Misery Beer Co. opened. It’s a bit hard to get to by public transport, as a lot of places in the Ardennes tend to be, so it was very convenient there was a special bus going from Brussels to the manor of Misery.

Due to the ever changing COVID-19 regulations, the opening party was a bit smaller than envisioned, and spread over two days. Once there, all necessary measures were taken to let us see the brewery and enjoy their beers in safety. And enjoy them, I did!