The Last Few Days
In the few days since my last post a lot has happened. We stayed in Bruges for two beautiful days. On the first day, due to Maddi being ill, we had a chill-out day in which I went for a 20 kilometre bike ride around the city centre. I found where the breweries were; its not exactly hard. You get hit with the smell of warm malt in the mash. It’s an amazing smell, for those who aren’t familiar with it.
On our second day, we went into town together to do some exploring. We did the boat trip around the city centre so we could see the sights in comfort. It was an enjoyable experience. After walking round for a couple of hours, we found a nice looking beer shop where I decided to have a round of Duvel. A Belgian beer that never fails to taste enjoyable. In addition, I treated myself to a De Konnick Belgian APA. Again, a very enjoyable, albeit traditional, flavoured Belgian APA.
In the afternoon, as we carried on exploring, the weather was starting to look a bit rough. So in the spirit beery adventures, I found the closest craft beer shop, aptly named ‘The Beer Shop’ and went in. To my sheer joy the shop went back over 100ft (33m) displaying a stock of over 1,000 different Belgian and German beers. I was in Sheer heaven!! Reviews for some of the beers will follow soon!
After heading back to the van we had a relaxing night and cooked our favourite food. Tacos.
The next morning, our final day at Camping Melming, was a beautiful morning. We started the day with bacon sandwiches (is there anything better?). We decided to just go for broke and head for Brussels.
Brussels & Leuven:
Brussels was nothing like its Bruges and felt more like an abandoned London. Pretty much all of the shops, and breweries were closed as it was a public ‘holiday.’ It was a bit of a disappointment so we went to Leuven, home of Stella Artois and, allegedly, the longest bar in the World. Unfortunately, the ‘national holiday’ meant a lot of the places we wanted to go were shut. We settled for a small glass at one of the bars in the square that makes up the world’s longest bar (which isn’t really a long “bar” but a series of bars in the town square).
Next stop – Amsterdam – 288km away. We left at 5.30pm and arrived at just past 8pm.
Arriving at that time, we struggled to find a campsite. The van isn’t a small van and wild camping carries a heavy fine so we needed to do it properly. We stumbled upon a campsite called Camping Zeeberg persuaded them to give us a spot for the night. It’s a good job the van’s got a sliding door. The space was tiny – and expensive but to compensate, the site facilities were good.
Next day we went on with the hunt for a 24 hr car park we could camp out in as the budget was going out of the window. After 2hrs of driving around Amsterdam’s ring road, we found a place where they said they had a spot. We fitted the van in perfectly and then hopped abroad the metro back to the town centre.
Maddi went shopping and I went on the beer hunt. I started the afternoon off at Brouwerij De Prael in the heart of Amsterdam. Sadly, their brewery tour wasn’t available but their taproom around the corner was and I made the most of it. I ordered a tasting platter of four beers: their milk stout, New England IPA, Belgian Tripel and Barley Wine. All were traditional but enjoyable beers. The milk stout was smooth, with a hint of carbonation and a great coffee taste; the NEIPA was juicy but not too sweet, the Tripel was thick, rich, with hints of jasmine and coriander. The Barley wine had a nice malty backbone that was balanced out with hints of sweetness and booziness.
I carried onto In De Wildeman, an old school whiskey and beer bar. It’s probably been my favourite of all the places I’ve visited, so far. It’s built in an old Amsterdam distillery and it’s character is enhanced by the antiques and paintings that adorn the walls. It was perfect, and so was the beer. I started on a refreshing Keller Bier, followed by a Strawberry Milkshake IPA and a Bowmore BA Imperial stout. I finished with a Citra Summer SIPA. All were perfect.
In the evening, Maddi went out for a romantic dinner to McDonalds. She’d enjoyed herself shopping in one of Amsterdam’s many shopping districts.
After our brief rendezvous for dinner We went our separate ways for another hour or two. I went to Cafe Belgique and then to Bier Koning Amsterdam (who will forever remember me because they have some of my t-shirts!). Cafe Belgique is a cool, It’s a little place down a side street that specialises in Belgian beer. I only had one lager as I wanted to save myself for Bier Koning. I’m glad I did. It’s an amazing place (a term that may well get over-used on this trip). It’s been a craft beer shop since 1985 – 12 years before I was born.
Bier Koning is a corner stone of the Amsterdam craft beer scene that is not to be missed! Say hi to the guys and definitely ask to see their local section. Over 150 bottles – from all over Amsterdam. It’s a must see. I asked for local recommendations. My motto is when local, buy local!
Maddi and I met back up and took the tram back to where the van. It had been a long, but great day.
Life on the beach:
The next morning was another beautiful morning so we headed for the beach. Here we are, 40km outside of Amsterdam, about to sleep in a carpark in front of the beach. Life couldn’t be much better – well apart from the fact I’m badly sunburnt. I am looking forward to cracking open a cold one tonight and watching the sun set.
Bye for now!