Trip Report - Poperinge
Posted by Jim Keaveney on 05/02/2006 03:38:51 PM
Claus of the B&B at St. B was kind enough to drop us off at Wally's Farm B & B Friday morning. Since nobody was there, he called Patty (Wally's wife) and she drove down to meet us and let us in. We quickly dropped our luggage and Patty drove us into town. She offered to pick us up if we needed a ride back. My trip report from '04 tells a rather amusing story of our semi-successful attempt to visit Elvis impersonator Wally. In short, the place was closed but Wally answered his door and ended up putting on a brief, private show for Michele and I while we sipped Orval. We vowed to return another time when the place would be open and this was our trip back.
In the Poperinge main square we started at Nieuwe Haene (I don't know how to spell it but it is "New Hen" in English). I asked the owner (Elisabeth) if she remembered us from October 04 and she did. Her husband Patrick who works at the Poperinge train station had been helpful to us on the last trip. So we sat at the bar and had a nice conversation over some local beers - they have a list of ~20. Later, she asked us how we would get back to Wally's. I told her that we would either take the Belbus or call Patty for a ride. Not necessary, said Elisabeth, she or Patrick would be happy to give us a ride later.
After a couple rounds we wandered out and went to the Palace Hotel. Our timing was once again poor as we were hungry and it was midday. Kitchen closed. We had a quick beer and headed out in search of an open restaurant. Vette OS was our first attempt. Closed. We then tried Paix which is supposed to be open but again, closed. We ended up at Deranke tea house (no relation to the brewery). They had a decent beer list of ~25. All of the local stuff plus some others. Brendan had a Westmalle tripel that was simply awful - not sure if that was a poorly kept bottle or what. The local beers were all good (St. B., Van Eecke, Leroy). The food there was good and the service was great. Our bellies full, we then went back to the Palace Hotel and their fantastic beer selection and suave atmosphere.
We returned to the New Hen and Patrick was now also behind the bar. Like Elisabeth, he was surprised that we were eating at Wally's that night and he even asked some of the locals at the bar for their opinions and it seemed everyone thought it was a bad idea for some reason. We enjoyed a couple more beers and then Patrick drove us to the B&B. We showered and then walked about 500 meters up the road to Wally's Farm. This is a large property with several buildings that we checked out the next morning. For now it was straight to the restaurant/entertainment building. The town of Poperinge seems to have a down-to-earth yet somewhat classy, refined character. Wally's is sort of wild decadence, perhaps helping explain the opinions of the folks in the New Hen.
A front row table was reserved for the 3 of us. There were about 60 in attendance. You can have the beef, the pork, the sausage or a mix of all. We all ordered the mix. There are no forks, only knives. I was disappointed that Orval is no longer on the beer list as I planned to drink that all night. I had a Tres Monts and then switched to Wally's beer, an amber, hoppy, pleasant 5% beer that was on tap. We were introduced as coming all the way from Philadelphia in the USA and given a loud ovation by the mostly French crowd. Maybe because Elvis was American? I have no idea. Brendan and Michele went up on stage and became a part of Wally's band for a song. Brendan played a stringless guitar and Michele danced around the stage. I took pictures and laughed my ass off. Wally did 1 set in his regular cowboy outfit and then another in full Elvis attire. It was a lot of fun and the food was good! We hung around til the crowd was gone and Wally and Patty sat at our table and we talked and had a couple more brews. Here is a picture from Wally's site of all of us on stage with Wally and Patty after closing:
I will post some good pix later.
Since we were out so late, we changed breakfast to 10:30. We were the only guests at the B&B so Patty came over the next morning around 10:15 and set everything up for us. Our room did not have a private bath but we were close enough and there were only three of us in the building of 7 rooms so... The rooms themselves were basic, spacious and a real bargain at 50E for a double, 30E for a single including breakfast. Wally joined us during breakfast for a bit and invited us to check out the farm when we were ready. They would take us to the train station whenever we wanted. So we got cleaned up, got our stuff together and went with Patty back to the Farm.
Wally has horses, a fish pond, a hop museum in the works and many other curiosities. He took great delight in showing us around and so did we. He gave me some hop plants which are now growing in my back yard. Wally drove us to the train station where we met up again with Patrick before heading onto the train for the long trip back to Amsterdam.
Wally's place is just plain fun. Certainly not for everyone but if you like to go with the flow... Wally and Patty are great people. The town of Poperinge seems to be full of warm and friendly people. We hope to visit again during the Hop Festival in September, 2008.
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