Beer, Beer, Beer, and other types of Beer
13.11.2008 - 24.11.2008 10 °C
On the road again! The bags are back on the back and heavier than ever. only 2 months left! We met up with some old mates in Amsterdam. We shared a room that was fully equipped with funky disco lights and mirror balls. Amsterdam was a lovely town and it was the first city where we didnt really do any sight seeing, we just had a really good time bar hopping and socializing with our friends. Having said that, we did as the locals do, hiring bikes and trying to run over tourists.
the gang at a great bar in amsterdam - Nick, jess, fi, bunx and chandler
even more gorgeous at night
It was very cool riding around town looking at the architechture and canals. we found a brewery in a windmill and sampled their beers.
We drank the La trappe beer, the only dutch trappist brew. Amsterdam was having the Saint Nicolas festival, celebrating christmas or something. they had black helpers and were dancing everywhere. very politically incorrect, but they gave out yummy treats to all the kids (and us too!) We did go for a good walk through the red light district and toured the sex museum, and sampled the bakery treats in the coffee shops. (Thanks Jess and Westy for a fwe of your photos!)
by the canal when we were bike riding
nick, i knew you and your mate westy were dodgy - check out that dirty mo!
the scary sinterklaas
bike riding through dam square
Belgium, finally! in beer heaven, i have never been so happy, within 3 hours i was ready to move to Antwerp. We found the best bars in Antwerp. The first bar we walked into was Oud Arsenaal, a bar favoured by local old men, but as the guide map said - old men often know what is good. Kulminator is run buy a husband and wife team that collect rare and aged beers. Some aged from the 70's. Here we drank the trappist beer Westvletern, which is pretty much impossible to get and is supposed to be illegal to sell. They served old beers in a basket. swanky! We did a trip out to the Westmalle abbey and beer cafe. we tried the Westmalle double and triple and a special one called half and half, which true to name is a mix of the double and triple. we had lunch there and ate the trappist cheese and their delicious paprika soup.
famous belgian fries
nick loving life at the kulminator in antwerp
the owners of the Kulminator - Leen and Dirk
Bruges was cool. we watched the Colin Farrel movie In Bruges before we went, giving us a bit of an insight to this lovely town. The belfry tower was a treat, there was a guy playing the glockenspiel while we climbed it. very cool. Unfortunately 2 of the best beer cafes were closed on the night we were there but we managed to find a brewery cafe called De Garre, which was excellent. A visit to the chocolate museum rounded out the tour of Bruges. They had a demonstration of the making of pralines, and tasting too of course.
chocolate tasting after the demonstration at choco story in bruges
bruges view from the famous belfry
Old men playing bocce in a square, near the church of the holy blood. You can also see part of the modern artwork the locals call the car wash.
Brussels. Street art of Tin Tin while you walk from bar to bar is a cool sight as you wander the streets. We saw the city from above by going up a parking high rise, a cheaper alternative to other cities. We toured the Cantillon brewery, the last brewery in brussels. they brew lambic style, which is spontaneously fermented by air-bourne yeast that only occurs in belgium. Manniken Pis, the little pissing statue, and the open air urinal on the side of a church were interesting sights. Brussels is home to Delirium, which holds the world record for beers, 2004 different beers available. we sampled a few.
cantillion brewery in brussels
So in the last few days we have drunk beers including....
Hoegaarten, Hoegaarten special, Traubadour, Westmalle double, Westmalle Triple, Orval, aged Orval (2006), Archel, Timmermans Kriek, Adelardus, Karmeleit triple, Gordons Xmas ale, Westvletern, St Louis Gueuze, Oud Beersel Gueuze, Kasteel Kriek, Kasteel Blonde, Chimay Blue, Mort Subite Kriek, Gouldin Carolus christmas ale, Malheur, De Koninek, Stella, Brugse Zot blonde and bruin, Hoegaarten Rosee, Kriek Max, De Garre Triple, Lindemans Pechehesse (peach kriek), Kwak, Celise Witte, Jacobins Gueuze, Rodenbach, Cantillon Gueuze and Kriek, Delirium Tremens, Delirium Nocturum, Rochefort, Mort Subite lambic blonde, Gulden Draak, Kapittel triple, poppering hommel beer, La trappe tripel, Maes, Jupiler, and probably a few others that we tried when the memory was a bit fuzzy.
highlights were the Westvletern and chimay, the karmeliet triple, the christmas ales and some of the krieks in particular the Max and Kasteel.
nick and his favourite beer, drinking at oud arsenaal
drinking the kwak in the cool glass at de garre in bruge
Nick trying to choose one of the 2650 beers available at Delirium
Last but not least we had a stopover in Vienna on our way to Beijing. This part of trip was a comedy of errors of sorts....
When we got to the airport train station, we accidentally ended up going the wrong direction on the train - only realising this at the end of the line, in the middle of countryside and nowhere! Had to wait an hour for the train to return to vienna airport and continue on half an hour in the opposite direction! What better way to see the countryside right??!! Once in vienna we found our hostel without too many dramas, and headed out for a night at the opera! Having missed the show at the state opera, we planned to see the other opera which was apparently starting an hour later at the other venue. When we arrived we found that we must have been told the wrong start time, but could get in cheaply anyway at intermission - standing room tickets at 3€! We didnt miss much - neither of us particularly loved the opera, it was in german, but translated in english on little screens. the orchestra was cool though, and the opera house was beautiful, lots of old important looking people very dressed up and eating hors'deuves and wine during the intermission.
We ate wiener schnitzel for dinner - massive servings of veal schnitzel, and dry and greasy and sadly dissappointing. Wanted to catch the christmas market afterwards - but it was closed!
The Wiener Schnitzel, not bad but got nothing on a parma
Next day we rode the tram around the city loop. We were told we could get on either the 1 or 2 tramin either direction. Lies! The number 2 took us somewhere the equivalent of Preston!!! another wasted hour on our 30 hour stopover! grrr! But then we caught the right tram, saw the spanish riding school/palace etc. We also visited the state opera - and it turns out we had been there the night before!! we had somehow ended up at the wrong opera!!!! so we saw the nice one anyway without realising it!
At the Opera.
Vienna had beautiful architecture, we had a lovely yet very cold time here. The highlight was the giant christmas market in front of the town hall, which had been made into an advent calender with numbered windows up to 24. Gorgeous! So was the Gluhwein that brought back memories of Germany 10 years ago for Fi...
The night market
Now onto China and a very different travel experience......