Recent trip to Belgium part 2
Posted by MattD on 03/30/2005 02:31:02 PM
Followng on from my post a week ago, here's a write up of the 2nd half of my trip around Belgium...
Thursday/Friday: I tried two crawls in Lambicland, one based on getting the 128 bus out to Strijtem, and wending my way back east, and another where I got the 141 bus out to Vlezenbeek, the 142 onto Gooik, then the 153 to Halle (+ then I got the train to Lembeek). The 142 also passes through Gaasbeek and Sint-Martin-Lennik though I didn't stop there.
I went to the following cafes on Thursday:
Kroon (Stritejm): traditional, and somewhat 'local'. Got stared at, a lot, by the only other fellow in the bar, who had a big moustache and looked a bit scary. But it turned out to be the only place where I drank Girardin oud lambic.
Jagershof (Stritejm): much more relaxing, had a Schabber to drink there.
Rare Vos (Schepdaal): a Payottenland 'must-do', apparently. It went all right until I wanted to leave. I looked around for the landlord, couldn't find him. I wasn't receiving any assistance from the locals, so I put my money down on the table and left. There was uproar - lots of urgent shouting - I imagine it was along the lines of, 'Landlord! Landlord! The stranger's leaving!! Come quickly!!' I waited outside, as I expected the landlord to come running after me, shortly followed by an angry mob. But nothing happened, they must have realised that I had actually paid. I wasn't terrifically impressed, although I did enjoy the eponymous beer.
Dreef (Schepdaal) is now a restaurant called Regal van 5.
Pedehof (Sint-Anna-Pede) and Sportwereld (Itterbeek) were both perfectly good, the latter full of cyclists. Dravershof (Dilbeek) didn't do Girardin any more, though I had a Hansenns Oude Gueuze there. Wished I had my camera on me as I passed Restaurant New Gits on the way to Sint-Anna-Pede.
Onto Friday, Kiek (Vlezenbeek) was really good, as far from All Bar One as you can get, i.e. a classic lambic cafe selling Girardin jong. I had to walk through the owner's house to get to the toilet.
Of Gooik, both Groone Port and Sportlokaal were good, but the best cafe there was the De Cam one, farmhouse style, twittering canaries, etc. There was also an elaborate lighting system set up, and one corner was full of photos of some TV personality - apparently it's this chap's 'set', he comes and does a show there every few weeks.
Then from Gooik, I took the bus and train to Lembeek, had a couple in Kring and Centrum. Looking out of the 153 on the way, I saw someone's pond, with, around it: statue of Christ on the cross; 'Greek style' marble statues; replica Mannekin Pis in full flow; great big plastic gnome; windmill (to scale). Very Belgian, I thought.
Advice to anyone thinking of trying the above by public transport: the 142 is much nearer to Kiek in Vlezenbeek than the 141 (10 mins walk versus 40). Also, I'd say that a quicker way out of Brussels is to get the Metro, line 1b heading south, to station Eddy Merckx - the bus stop is nearby. The bus took ages to get out of Brussels, but was pretty quick after that. Of the two crawls I did, the latter potentially involved many more cafes, and was easier, as they were within reasonably short walking distance of the bus stops. Unlike the former which involved lots and lots of walking.
After all that, things sort of wound down a bit on Saturday and Sunday, went to the usual sorts of places in Oudenaarde, Ghent + Kortrijk. I did enjoy A Capella in Ghent, as the guide says, it's a bit posh but the staff are friendly. I got chatting to an old boy at the bar - he was unimpressed with my choice of drink (Houten Kop), and insisted that he buy me a 'real classic Belgian beer' - Westmalle Tripel. I didn't refuse.
I also took a bit of time out to visit Eine, off Oudenaarde - to sample some Cnudde. Cafe Casino was closed, but of the places I visited, Barbier was the best, an old fashioned cafe and modern looking hairdressers, all in one room. Bolero (opposite the station) was a nice enough place to wait for the train. I'd go back to Eine again, simply for the Cnudde.
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