The Mother of All Trips
Posted by Joelle on 07/12/2002 12:33:12 PM
Part 1: Will we ever make it to Belgium?
The trip didn't start out too auspiciously for us. We had a 3 hour delay in Houston that caused us to miss our connecting flight in Newark to Brussels. This meant that we'd have to wait about 22 hours to catch the next flight to Brussels from Newark. Luckily there was a flight leaving at the next gate for Amsterdam that had room for us, so we jumped on it. The next bit of bad news was that because of our quick change of plans, the suitcase with our clothes didn't make it on the plane to Amsterdam. Oh well, we were across the pond, and that was all that really mattered. We'd just pick up the bag in Brussels before heading off to Wimbledon after two days in Brugge. After three trains we were finally in Brugge at 17:00 local time with about 24 hours of traveling under our belts. We dropped our luggage off at B&B Marjan Degraeve and headed out in search of food.
We took Filip's suggestion and tried the mussels at De Mosselkelder. The evening was beautiful, so we sat out on the patio and stuffed ourselves with a seafood cocktail, a ton of mussels, frites and a wonderful chocolate dessert washed down with Rodenbach and Westmalle Tripel.
Then it was off for our mini babblefest at t' Brugs Beertje with Mat and Johan. While waiting, we ordered a Malheur Millennium 10 and a Drie Fonteinen Kriek from Daisy. The guys arrived and we continued with a few rounds of Johan's beers. We sampled Wostyntje, Guido, Vuuve and the 't SmisjeTripel and Pandreitje. All of them were excellent, and it was very nice to be able to talk to Johan about them. There was an impromptu musical performance right in the middle of the BB by a brass band from Amsterdam. They were in town for a festival being held that weekend. Around 23:00 Johan's wife and sons showed up. They had been at the festival for the day and were pretty tired, so Johan left us around 23:30 with a bottle each of his Halloween, Kerstbier and Slee Doorn to take home with us. You'd figure it was about time for us to turn in too after all of our traveling, but Mat suggested we head over to De Zolder and sample some Watou Wit. How could we say no?? I must say I was very impressed with the ambiance at De Zolder, and the beer list was very nice. I could definitely spend quite a bit of time in there. Unfortunately it was getting late, so we headed off for some frites and a nice comfy bed. One word of caution. When staying on the third floor at Marjan's B&B, be sure to leave a light on in your room when you go out for the evening. The only lights that were on were at the front door, and when you get past the first floor, it is pretty hard to navigate two flights of narrow stairs in total darkness (especially if you're drunk...).
Day 2 in Brugge and the surrounding area:
After some well earned rest, Dan and I met Mat at In't Nieuw Museum for a quick lunch before heading off to the day's main attraction, t' Kroegske in Izegem. Dan and I split their mixed grill and had a couple of bowls of the soup of the day. It was delicious, and I really liked the way they cooked the meat on a grill in the fireplace in front of us. Mat took the initiative and ordered a round of the Museum Bier 2002. It wasn't bad, but not my favorite beer of the trip. Mat commented that it might have been somewhat more bitter than it had been a couple of nights before. He also conjectured that it might be based on De Dolle's Oeral, with some additional spicing.
We had our waitress call a cab as we were right up against the time the train was leaving. Let's suffice it to say, this guy drove like a maniac through the narrow streets, but it was definitely necessary because we barely made our train.
After arriving in Izegem we made a futile search for an operational ATM. This will be a big theme of our trip. Finally we gave up because the beer was calling us. T' Kroegske was about a 10 minute walk from the station, and it was fairly straight forward, except for the roundabout with about 5 streets shooting off of it. Luckily we had our steadfast guide Mat leading the way. We entered the bar and went to find a table. There was only one other group in the back room, so we basically had our pick. Danny came up to see if we wanted a drink list, and when he realized we were Americans he said there was another group of Americans in the back. What do you know, it just happened to be Priscilla and Paul from Antwerp! This was the first impromptu Priscilla sighting of the trip. We went back to their table and another mini babblefest broke out. For four hours we indulged in the terrific beer selection that Danny and Nadine have compiled.
There was a slightly aged Felix Oud Bruin, a 1987 Callewaert Schavuit, De Cam Oude Gueuze Gooik, 1988 Rodenbach, Blaugies Derbyste, Pa-Gijs, 1983 Bel Vue Kriek, 1988 Timmermans Framboise (on the house), Saison Regal, 1992 Dupont Moinette Bruin and 1997 Zwingel Slijtersbier (from a now defunct brewery that used Rodenbach yeast).
My favorites were the Schavuit, Rodenbach and Felix. Of course they were all sour beers, what did you expect?? The Schavuit had a very oxidized nose, but happily it didn't come through in the flavor much. It had a pretty vinegary sourness that was alright, but it would have been better if it had a little more sweetness to balance it out. Definitely worth trying though. About halfway through our session Priscilla and Paul ordered some food that looked excellent. They have a whole range of dishes cooked and served with beer. I will definitely try some the next time we're there. Unfortunately it was over all too soon, and Priscilla and Paul kindly dropped the three of us off at the train station before heading back to Antwerp. Mat went to Brussels to catch the Eurostar home and Dan and I returned to Brugge.
Upon returing to the B&B we noticed our long lost suitcase in the entryway. Thank God, we wouldn't have to go the airport in Brussels to pick it up! After a short nap and a change of clothes, we headed out in search of food. Unfortunately we were short on cash and every restaurant we tried didn't accept credit cards, and every ATM we found was out of money. Doh! Finally around 10:30 on our way to check out De Zolder (which happened to be closed on a Sunday for some reason) to see if they took credit cards, we happened upon an ATM that, YES, was actually functioning. After replenishing our funds we decided to go to the BB and have a cheese plate and some beer. We walked in and Daisy greeted us by name. How does she do that? The place was packed, but the service was still outstanding, and we managed to find a table. We split 4 beers, one of them on the house. Did I mention that I love Daisy? The beers were: Gueuze Fond Tradition, 't Smisje Dubbel (excellent Johan!), Hellekapelle and Girardin Framboise. As we were totally wiped out, we bid adieu to Daisy, hit a frites stand and waddled off to bed.
Next up Wimbledon!
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