Sunday, May 16, 2010
Too Many Beers, Too Little Time
As you can see from our beer list below, we were quite successful in our attempt to try as many Belgium beers as possible (Jonathan's trying to decide what to order next at a bar in Bruges in the picture above). Needless to say, we are going to give our livers and waistlines a bit of a break until we get to Germany. American beer is going to seem pretty weak after what we’ve been drinking this past week, and we’re pretty sure Jonathan is now fully ready to show off his drinking skills at school!
Beers weren’t the only things we double-fisted while in Belgium.
While we did eat quite a bit of Belgium chocolate and sampled the double-fried fries, the waffles were by far our favorite food on this leg of our trip. Jonathan just couldn’t get enough, and already has plans to purchase a waffle maker when we get back! Here is Heather in front of one of the many waffle stands we visited.
The architecture in Belgium was our favorite so far. Brussels was absolutely beautiful (although rather cold and rainy)! The city was very walk-able, allowing us to easily visit most of the major sites on foot (which is a good thing considering all the beer and waffles we consumed). Below is a picture of us in Brussels’ most famous square, Grand Place (you can ignore the street-cleaning machine in the background).
Brussels is also the primary capital of the European Union, which occupies an entire section of the city. Heather was excited to visit this area, but unfortunately it was a little boring and disappointing. There might have been some sort of tourist center or museum, but if so we missed it. Mostly we just saw nondescript, large office buildings, with many angry looking Europeans going in and out. They must have read the news about the uncertain future of the EU!
Since we had almost a full week in Belgium, we were able to take day trips from Brussels to both Bruges and Antwerp. On Thursday we headed to Bruges, known as one of the most historically preserved and beautiful towns in Belgium. Coincidentally, we happened to arrive on one of the busiest days of the year – a religious holiday called Ascension Day. Even though most of the shops were closed and the town was really crowded, we were able to take part in many of the festivities of the day - including the Procession of the Holy Blood (a tradition that started in 1291). Bruges is beautiful and definitely worth a half-day trip, although we can imagine how crowded it must get during the height of the tourism season! Here is a picture of us in the main “Market” square. You can see the bleachers set up behind us for people to watch the parade.
On Friday we took a day trip to Antwerp, Belgium’s second largest city and the Diamond Capital of the World. We didn’t do a lot of research before we arrived but were pleasantly surprised at just how much we enjoyed the city! We definitely liked our visit to Antwerp more than Bruges, and wished we had more time to spend there. Most of the day was spent strolling the main shopping street, visiting the major sites, and of course, window shopping in the diamond district. Unfortunately, everything Heather picked out would require us to cancel the rest of our trip and return home immediately! Here is a picture of us in front of Antwerp’s Central Station – one of the most beautiful rail stations in Europe.
The most interesting part of our time in Antwerp was spent visiting a beer bar rated 2nd in the world (Ratebeer.com) - the Kulminator. The bar is owned and operated by an older couple and according to the reviews online, the husband is a bit of a beer tyrant. Apparently they have a huge inventory of vintage beers, but the owner will only discuss his collection after he deems someone to be a true beer lover. Well, we must not have met the criteria because he didn’t interact with us at all. He sat at a nearby table and read the newspaper the whole time we were there. The bar was practically as quiet as a church, with classical music playing in the background and several cats roaming around. It was really strange, but a must for any beer lover visiting Belgium! Here is Jonathan enjoying a N’Ice Chouffe at the Kulminator.
Our train arrived in Luxembourg this afternoon, and we’re excited to explore the city before heading to Paris on Tuesday!
• Leffe 9 Degrees (a Belgian strong pale ale)
• Leffe Blonde (a Belgian pale ale)
• Chimay Grande Reserve (a Belgian strong dark ale)
• Chimay Premiere (a Belgian dubbel)
• Chimay Tripel (a Belgian tripel)
• Hoegaarden Grand Cru (a Belgian witbier)
• Vedett Extra White (a Belgian witbier)
• Blanche de Bruges (a Belgian witbier)
• Orval Trappist Ale (a Belgian pale ale)
• Trappist Achel 8° Blond (a Belgian tripel)
• Trappistes Rochefort 8 (a Belgian strong dark ale)
• Blanche De Hainaut Biologique (a Belgian witbier)
• N’Ice Chouffe (a Belgian strong dark ale)
• Gordon Finest Platinum (a Belgian strong pale ale)
• Watou’s Wit (a Belgian witbier)
• Gouden Carolus Hopsinjoor (a Belgian IPA)
• Nostradamus (a Belgian strong dark ale)
• Valier Extra (a Belgian IPA)
• St. Feuillien Blonde (a Belgian strong pale ale)
• Mort Subite Gueuze (a Belgian gueuze)
• Houblon Chouffe Dobbelen IPA Tripel (a Belgian IPA)
• Duvel (a Belgian strong pale ale)
• Delirium Tremens (a Belgian strong pale ale)
• Ramee Blonde (a Belgian strong pale ale)
• Maes Pils (a German Pilsener brewed in Belgium)
• Erdinger Weissbier (a German hefeweizen – warming up for our next big beer country)