Valentine's Day and Birthday Celebrations in Watou
Posted by Thom Aikman on 02/22/2003 08:49:23 AM
Valentine's Day and Birthday Celebrations in Watou
We headed off to Belgium at 11:30 on Friday 14th February for a two night stay at the Brouwershuis in Watou. After our weekend in Watou, we would drive to Brugge for a four-night stay at the Hansa hotel, just off the Eiermarkt.
This first part of this report just deals with the Watou leg. I will update with more detailed notes from Brugge, later in the week.
We make good progress through England, the tunnel and the French motorways and arrived at the Brouwershuis at 16:30 local time. I think we have been so lucky compared with others' recent journeys, as we seem to be rarely held up at Eurotunnel, except maybe for short security checks.
This was our first stay at the Brouwershuis, and based on reports the level of expectation was high. We were not disappointed.
Madame greeted us at the door, as we unloaded the car. We were offered the choice of being shown to our room or a drink (naturally we chose the latter). I asked for and got a 75cl bottle of Grottenbier, which we shared as we eat some snacks, before unpacking in our room. We spent an enjoyable hour taking in our new surroundings; the incidental music, the beautiful conservatory, the library and the drinks cabinet, where we were shown the choices of St Bernardus 6, 8 or 12 and soft drinks.
After unpacking and another restorative, we walked to the Hellakapelle café in Stoppelweg. As we walked, the solitude and isolation was stunning after only leaving London that morning, as well as the rapidly dropping temperature. The forecast was for a minimum of -5C that night. We entered the Hellakapelle, which was busy with at least 7 locals in there and we settled down to a Hellakettellbier and a Zatte Bie, in preparation for our walk into Watou to eat at Het Ovenhuis. Although it was Valentine's day, we had not anticipated how busy it would be, and were lucky to get a table. We both chose the wonderful Hutsepot (winter stew, with root vegetables, bacon, sausage and port chop). Keeping in the St Bernardus theme, we enjoyed an 8 and a 12.
Complementary Valentines chocolates completed the meal. We were now ready for the walk back to the Brouwershuis.
We woke early the next morning and had a great breakfast (the quality and the variety some 4* hotels would find hard to match). As it was my birthday, I had elected to be driven around West Flanders drinking and buying beers (I know that there will be a similar request in June coming along).
Our first stop was Krombeke and the Nevejan Drankcentrale. The weather was gloriously sunny, but freezing cold. As this was our first visit to this warehouse, we were amazed by the prices on offer. We bought 4x24 crates of mixed St Bernardus and Van Eecke. As we had already stocked up in Ploegsteert, only three weeks prior, we promised to keep focused, despite the prices. We were given two bottles of Affligem Christmas beer free. Total spend 130 EUR, including some soft drinks. The man running the place, as Ian had stated, was incredibly friendly and helpful. Beware breathing in lungfulls of forklift truck exhaust as you shop. Cash only.
We then headed off to Westvleteren. The sign at the abbey said that only the 8 was available, but by the time we reached the front of the queue, we were offered both Blonde and 8 (there was a maximum of 5 crates allowed that day).
I decided to buy 24 bottles of Westvleteren Blonde in the drive-though. First time we had managed to get there when it was open and/or available. Some snow fell as we loaded the car.
The day had only started.
Next stop was Esen and De Dolle Brouwers. We walked into the cosy bar and got into conversation with Madame. I enjoyed an Oerbier to start. We were told that there was no Stille Nacht or Reserva available for sale, but there was a 4 year old Stille Nacht on draught, which was absolutely stunning. Normally, we only plan to stay and buy beer but Madame asked us to help her with her English homework. We spent an interesting hour helping her translate articles from the Independent newspaper back from Dutch into English. We bought 2 cases of Oerbier (one for Jeremy !!) and a mixed case of the other available beers.
Time for food and Paulette drove into the sunshine of the Huevelland and the Kauwackers café between Dranouter and Nieuwkerke. The road we needed to take was not sign posted from the main road, but we eventually arrived at this cosy café. It seemed like rush hour, as we had to pass four cars heading back to the main road without crashing into the nearest ditch. This had been our third attempt to find the cafe and we were glad we had persevered. Again great food and drink. Drinking notes seem to have been misplaced but an excellent list nevertheless. We then headed back to Watou for a rest.
My birthday meal was in the Hommelhof. We had reserved tables back in December and were glad we had, as the place was packed, even the back room. There was not a free parking space left in the Watou square. We had again walked up to Watou and enjoyed the Brewers menu and some Van Eecke beers.
We tried to take some pictures on the road back, but the camera would not respond due to the freezing conditions.
The end of a superb birthday and nearly the end of our stay in Watou.
We breakfasted early, then drove on a virtually empty motorway to Brugge arriving at 12:00, and managed to check in early.
Part Two to follow - the Hotel room upgrade saga, the coldest toilets in Belgium contest, the most overheated bar in Belgium competition, Brugge, Kroegske, Oostende, De Haan and Gent.
Select the BACK button on your brouser to see the previous list