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March 2006 - Belgium - Poperinge (Westvleteren) And The Haul
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March 28th, 2006 -- You know it happens to the best of us. One day we found ourselves at work, day dreaming a little and the next thing you know you're searching for airplane flights and the rest. Usually nothing comes of it, but this time I found tickets to Brussels for $450 (with everything). This was one thing I couldn't refuse. So I spent 2 days flying and spent 3 whirlwind days in Belgium. For those of you thinking of going, I really can't say enough good about it. I also enjoyed using the country's remarkably efficient train system to get around. A little bit of planning can get you lots of places. These are the pics. (Thanks go to Darren Nightingale, Matt Stinchfield, Rich Pedersen and others for their assistance in planning and directions)

Picture Index (By Location)
Beersel (Drie Fonteinen) | Brussels (at Night) | Brugge (De Halve Maan) | Brugge | Poperinge (Westvleteren) And The Haul

Last day! Starting from Brugge, grab the train and head on down to the small town of Poperinge. From there, grab a bike, a map and get lost, twice, and then finally land at one of the world's best breweries. Bike back tired, find yourself smack dab in the middle of a loud town parade before finally catching a train back to Brussels for the evening and a morning flight out.
So, like I said.. rent a bike in Poperinge (at the Hotel Belfort), grab a map from the nice lady in the tourist office. Take a ride. Take two wrong turns and then finally, off in the distance, spot the abbey. Praise the Lord and pass the beer, Brothers!
Sitting in the cafe, this, this is what you want to see. A glass of Westy and a menu promising as much as you can drink of it.
Off on the far reaches of Western Flanders the nicest little slice of beer heaven.
The odd thing about the Cafe (In de Vrede) is that its a clean, modern facility with all the nice things going on it. It's a far cry from the simple life that the monks lead, but here they make sure they can sustain their life.
After the long ride back to Poperinge (hey.. anything's a long way after 3 hearty Westy beers.), I was sweaty, tired, lugging 60 lbs of beer and clothing. Before heading all the way back to the train station, I stopped at the beer lover's home in Poperinge, the Hotel Palace. A 12 room hotel with its own cafe. Normally closed at this hour, the cafe stayed open during the parade, so...
What better time to enjoy a few glasses of Poperinge's own beer, Hommelbier. Fittingly a hoppy soft Belgian Ale that showcases the local region's famous hops.
Welcome to small town parade in Belgium. I have no idea what it was about. Celebrating being a from Poperinge, I assume. On the other side of the town square, endless lines of cars and trucks from local businesses, honking their horns and throwing candy. Over on Ieperstraat, a parade of costumed marchers, singing and dancing and throwing confetti.
I assumed this group is celebrating the local fire brigade.
So finally, I reached the train station, only to find myself with an additional 30 minutes to kill. So, a quick run into the station's cafe for a Petrus brune.
My one attempt at something dumbly arty, the nice shot of the Belgian countryside on the ride back to Brussels.
Here's where I went. Green is my first day; Yellow is day 2; and finally orange is the last day.
This is what it's all about. 6 bottles of Westy 12; 6 bottles of Westy Blonde; Bush Prestige; Rochefort 8; Guinness Foreign Extra Stout; t'Smisje Halloween; t'Smisje Cuvee 2005; Liefman's Jan van Gent; Drie Fonteinen Oude Kriek and Drie Fonteinen Vintage Oude Gueze (Brand new!). Sadly, one bottle of Hapkin (which I loved, but is no longer exported to California) was lost in transit. Bummer.
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Page Last Modified: March 29 2006 02:59:16.