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Notes on Amsterdam-Belgium trip 2003 - Part 1

Posted by Rich Link on 11/18/2003 07:59:48 PM

I kept meaning to post notes on our trip this past May. It took a while to get around to actually writing them, then they turned out to be very long. So, I decided to break this up into chunks. Some of this may be boring to a lot of you. However, we did have some great times. I hope there is something here of interest.




Here is a detailed journal of our recent trip to The Netherlands and Belgium. My wife Teresa and I are big fans of Belgian Beers. I write for The Celebrator, and have been President of the California Homebrewers Association for the past four years. I’ve been brewing at home since 1980. Teresa is well known as the “Raffle Queen” by thousands who have attended the Southern California Homebrewers Festival.

Day One, May 15, Leaving San Diego – (Skip this part if you’re squeamish about air travel)

The day arrives, and the car to take us to the airport is on time. We arrive at the airport with plenty of time to spare. When we go to the counter at United, we’re told that our connecting flight from Chicago to Amsterdam has been cancelled. I was so pleased to be informed of this that I ran twenty red lights…no, wait, that was something else. Anyway, I wasn’t too pleased at how our trip was starting out. However, we were re-routed through Washington Dulles, but the flight left in 15 minutes. We had to high-tail it to the gate. Fortunately, the flight was on time, and everything was dandy.

Once at Dulles, we had to make arrangements to get on the Amsterdam flight. It was a little hairy for a while, but we eventually got two seats next to each other. So we went and had a couple of brews from Commonwealth. Not too bad.

I noticed some lightning activity outside, and wondered if this would affect our flight. We boarded on time, and were ready to push back when they shut down the airport because of the storm. Within 15 minutes we were given the okay to go, but we had to make it fast. The storm was still in the area, and it was expected to get worse.

Well, we took off. I must tell you, it was the worst take-off I’ve ever experienced. This was a Boeing 777, and it was being tossed around like a balsa wood plane in a hurricane. It was bouncing up and down, and shimmying side to side. I was sure it was going to break into pieces. Then when it seemed that it could get no worse, there was a great flash of light on the right side of the plane, immediately (less than a half second) followed by a huge crashing sound. I thought we had exploded, and figured that was it – we were all dead. After a few seconds, I realized I was still alive, and that the great flash was lightning that had struck just outside the plane.

We continued our ascent, and it didn’t get any better. For a good 10 to 15 minutes, I wished we had never left the ground. I truly thought we were going to die. Then the captain came on the PA and acknowledged the lightning strike, and said that the co-pilots would be coming through the plane to look out the right side to see if there was any damage. That didn’t make us feel any better. However, a little while later we were told that everything looked okay, and that we should have a much nicer flight for the next seven hours. How could it get any worse!?!?!?!? All along, I just kept thinking to myself, “The captain wouldn’t have taken off if he thought it was unsafe.”

Well, the flight did get much better, and thanks to a hellacious tailwind, we arrived in Amsterdam almost an hour early. It was good to be off the plane. But now it was almost 9AM, which was midnight to our bodies, and we had to catch a train to Haarlem, and figure out what we were going to do for the rest of the day.

When traveling from California to Europe, my normal plan is to have a light lunch, a couple of beers, then take a nap for about 3 hours. However, since we got to our hotel at 10 AM it was too early to check in. So we dumped off our luggage and walked around a bit to get the lay of the land. Just off the Grote Markt we sat down at Fortuyn. We ordered some tomato soup and a couple of beers. Adriaan White is a local Haarlem beer. It had a tangy citrus bite, some sourness, was effervescent and thirst-quenching. Dommelsch Bier, or “regular beer”, as the waitress put it, was, well, “regular”. But it had a good malt flavor and slight lingering bitterness. A good morning beer. So we finished the best soup I’d had in years, and went back to the room and took a nice three-hour nap.

-Awake and thirsty in Haarlem-

Up, showered and refreshed, we headed off to Bruxelles for a couple of beers. We started off with Jopen’s Lentebok. Aroma was peppery and herby – like a spice cabinet. Definite nutmeg flavors, and slightly sweet. Also had Jopen Koyt, dark ruby brown ale with caramel sweetness and a slight sour tang. The Hertog Jan Tripel, “Grand Prestige”. Big, dark ale. Like a dubbel, but tripel strength. Raisin, yeast and some spice. Reminiscent of Sterken Dubbel.

Walked down the street and found a place for dinner. Not a very good beer list. Had Amstel. That’s all I can say about that. The meal was excellent though.

Next up - A Day in Amsterdam

Notes on Amsterdam-Belgium trip 2003 - Part 1 - Rich Link, 11/18/03 07:59:48 PM
        Nice write up !- keep it coming (nfm) - Gunter aka March, 11/19/03 03:09:49 PM
        Re: Notes on Amsterdam-Belgium trip 2003 - Part 1 - MikeK, 11/19/03 03:01:06 PM
        I'm taking the boat next time! Great part 1, nfm - DrBill, 11/19/03 01:16:22 PM
        Re: Notes on Amsterdam-Belgium trip 2003 - Part 1 - Cornelia, 11/19/03 08:49:32 AM
                Much more limited Euro traveller, but... - Bob Johnston, 11/19/03 11:06:41 AM
                        Re: Much more limited Euro traveller, but... - Jeremy Gray, 11/19/03 03:58:30 PM
                                Re: Much more limited Euro traveller, but... - Rich Link, 11/19/03 04:15:18 PM
                                        Re: Much more limited Euro traveller, but... - Jeremy Gray, 11/19/03 04:31:00 PM
                                                Re: Much more limited Euro traveller, but... - Rich Link, 11/19/03 06:57:58 PM

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