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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

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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 – Leisure Time!

Thursday at lunchtime, the Dutch Work Party usually puts down their tools, to then spend the rest of the week however they please! However, even though this time we picked up our tools again on Friday morning, before we decided to do that, we already did enjoy a very relaxing Thursday afternoon!

Thursday

We brought packed lunches, ready to eat on the car train, since our destination was on the other side of the mountain: Leukerbad Therme! Baths inside, outside, hot, cold, or warm, bubbles and massaging jets, slides, and all this combined with amazing mountain views!

In the evening we walked to Taverne Zur Gemmi, a little up the road from the scout centre. I was very surprised to find some Swiss craft beers here! I had both some Thunbier and Haarige Kuh beers. The landlady told me the latter were made by some Scottish brewers in Interlaken, which isn’t surprising if you see the hairy Highland coo on the label…

Friday

After our extra morning of work, we spent Friday afternoon in Interlaken. There is a little craft beer scene there—at least three craft breweries—which I couldn’t wait to discover!

Hüsi Bierhaus is kind of Barrel Brewing’s taproom, so I was able to drink and buy some of their beers there.

At Brasserie 17—not a brewery—I found some more beers from Haarige Kuh.

The last one I would never have entered if it wasn’t for the recommendation of a local beer geek who saw me searching for a brewery: Little Thai is really just a Thai restaurant, but it serves beers by Mountain Madness!

In the evening we had the traditional Swiss cheese fondue, albeit not in the main dining hall with staff and other guests this time, but just us in our private kitchen.

Saturday

Our last full day in Kandersteg the weather was perfect for a hike in the mountains! Unfortunately many trails were still closed after some avalanches and landslides, so like dozens of others, we walked up to the Oeschinensee, and then a little further up to see a waterfall.

Since we had already cleaned our kitchen and handed in the keys, we spent our last evening at Taverne Zur Gemmi again. Just as well, since they had one more Haarige Kuh beer I hadn’t tried yet!

Dutch Work Party – Working…

From Monday morning until Thursday lunchtime, the Dutch Work Party actually does work to earn their stay, This way we help out the limited number of off-season volunteer staf, affectionately known as Pinkies, because of the colour of the T-shirts they usually wear. Our task for this season was to replace the wooden fence around the “Workhof”.

After tearing down the first part of the fence, we quickly discovered the job wouldn’t be as simple as one might think… Luckily the steel in concrete foundations could stay, so we wouldn’t have to dig in the frozen and rocky ground, but that is where the luck ended. Keeping the foundations also meant we had to make the new wooden beams fit the—as it turned out—each slightly different steel supports. The size of the beams also meant we had to be creative, since a lot of the tools present were not big enough to make the necessary cuts and holes in one go…

After solving all the problems, we managed to finally start constructing the fence. However, when our scheduled time was up, there still wasn’t much to show for all the time and effort we put in… So, during our free Thursday afternoon—more about that in the next post—we collectively decided to work Friday morning as well, and actually screw some planks onto those cursed posts!

Dutch Work Party – Warmup Day

The first Sunday of a Dutch Work Party is usually spent getting (re)acquainted with the other participating scouts, and a simple hike in the area. Considering the recent snowfall, we decided we wanted to go snowshoeing.

After waking up in the white Alps, having breakfast and preparing a packed lunch, we started looking into the different options for the day.

Plans and mountain conditions don’t always go well together though, and our first choice—going up with the Sunnbuël gondola lift and follow a snowshoeing trail from the top station—fell through: the trail was closed because of the high avalanche risk. The alternative we then picked, was a lower trail starting in the valley.

After strapping the snowshoes to our backpack, the five of us headed off. The trail started out snow free, but sure it would be covered higher up? It wasn’t… We reached the viewpoint—the highest point of our trail—without ever needing to put on our snowshoes.

Back in the centre of Kandersteg, we rewarded ourselves with some pastry at the Marmotte tea room, and a beer in the bar of Hotel des Alpes, affectionately called “Dessie’s” by KISC staff and regulars.

While we were there and on our way back to KISC, it didn’t stop snowing, so by the end of the day, there probably was enough snow on the trail to use snowshoes…