Beer, Frites, Waffles, and Beer. Belgium at its Finest.


Once upon a time, in a far away land, there was a bar.  And not just any bar, a bar with the award for most beers available for commercial sale in the entire world.  Where was this bar you asked?  Well, it was in the most glorious place for beer lovers in the world, Belgium.

Happy Men on Beer; Obviously when its 20 proof
Recently, we ventured on another brief weekend trip to Belgium to, ambitiously, visit three different cities in three nights. Why not right?  And given the shear number of beers we wanted to try, and their high alcohol content, the relative drunkenness made the days more entertaining.

This trip began on the Eurostar to Brussels, which is without question the most convenient way to travel.  It was a door to door trip from our flat door to central Brussels in just over three hours.  Taking a plane wouldn't been almost double the time and probably double the price when factoring in all airport transfers.  Our first stop on the trip was technically Antwerp, but since we just landed in Brussels we decided to make a quick pit stop for a couple beers and, obviously, a waffle.  My first Belgian waffle was technically a Liege, which is much more dense and sweet than the traditional waffle, and of course it helps if it is also covered with chocolate and strawberries.

Lunch #1: Deliciousness.
After devouring this very nutritious lunch, we stopped at the famous Delerium Cafe, which to our surprise reminded us more of a college dive bar than a bar that has the Guinness Record for most beers available for commercial purchase.  We took the bartender's advice and had two Trappist ales that were both 8 and 10% alcohol content.  We also figured it would be a good idea to have something more substantial to eat and got some cheese and salami, which ended up being an entire wheel of cheese in cube form with an entire foot long sausage...also in cube form.

Lunch #2: Cheesey Delight
After filling up on sausage, cheese, and over-proofed beers, we trekked to the train station.  Upon arriving in Antwerp, we were blown away.  The train station is more like a castle than a station, and oh, when you walk outside, there are diamond shops everywhere.  Antwerp is the city where most of the uncut diamonds from Africa enter Europe, and it's obvious.

The Antwerp Train Station......what?
After a quick nap in the hotel, we romped around town for a while trying more over-proofed beers and exploring squares and alleyways.  Antwerp isn't very large so we quickly made our way around the center of the city and settled down at a small restaurant called t'Hofke tucked away in a quiet mews.  Our table was in cellar down a very narrow staircase, which we both agreed, must do wonders for the waitress in terms of a workout.  First, we ordered a specialty, steamed white asparagus with smoked salmon which was simple, delicate and delicious.  Next we had a traditional Belgian beef stew, which wasn't anything special but came with golden french fries (or Frites).


The next morning, we checked out a Thai festival in the middle of the city before boarding the train to the medieval romantic town of Brugge.  The city became idolized (in many ways) after the movie In Brugge staring Colin Farrell came out.   Most of the tourist books insinuate that despite Brugge being a tourist trap, it truly is as beautiful as the pictures.  Well, this is absolutely true.  It does blow you away how a small town can be in such pristine shape.


We were staying in the rather cheap Lybeers Travellers Hostel during our time in Brugge, and upon arriving we were informed that because of construction issues, we had to stay in a 5 bed dorm.  Fine.  We can deal with that.  What we can't deal with is the fact that the hostel was not complete.  It was still under construction with power tools sitting next to the door of our room.  If we had been staying there any longer than one night, this would not have been acceptable.  After being slightly annoyed at this incident we went on a tour of the local brewery, Des Halve Man, which served a few of the best beers we had during our time here.  After the brewery tour and a few more over-proofed beers, we did what any sane people would do.  Tracked down another waffle and some frites.

We ended up t' Brugs Beertje, one of the coolest bars we went to during our time in Belgium.  It was relatively quiet and down an allyway serving all of the best beers Belgium had to offer, and given that it was only 3 in the afternoon and we had already done most of the things we came to do, we tried about 8 different ones.  The rest of the night is a bit hazy, however we did go for dinner at a not too impressive tourist restaurant that doesn't even deserve a mention.

Given that we fell asleep at about 10 P.M. that night, we were up and out the door the next morning at 8 A.M. We took a long walk around the city, seeing the windmills, climbing the bell tower (see In Brugge), and eating some fantastic chocolate at The Chocolate Line.  The Chocolate Line serves chocolate that tastes like anything and everything under the sun.  Just to name a few, we had wasabi, bacon, curry, and lemongrass, amongst others.

Yes, these are on Matt's leg.
After a rather filling lunch of more frites, meatballs and some fried fish and cheese cakes at Chez Vincent, we boarded a train back to Brussels for our last night in Belgium.  At this point, we were pretty beered out, but given that we were in Belgium, we went to another Delirium bar, albeit a smaller one.  For those of you reading who don't know, Delirium Tremens is a Belgian brewed beer that has won the best beer in the world award several times.  It's available in many places but generally for between $7-10 per half pint.  How much at the Delirium Bar?  Oh, for happy hour its two for one, and one is 3.60 Euro.  Suffice to say, we had a few deliriums that night inadvertently and ended up having one of the best meals we ate in Belgium at La Plaka, a Greek restaurant across the street that we were contemplating eating at during the multiple Deliriums we had.  The conversation went something like this.

"What should we have for dinner?  Its our last night here."
"I dont know we should have something Belgian at one of those cute restaurant don't you think?"
"Well, La Plaka looks pretty good..."
"Yeah... But we should walk around a bit right?"
"Yeah your right"

~20 minutes later and one walk around the block~

"One more delirium and then lets decide where to go"
"Ok"

....

"La Plaka"
"YES"

I would like to stress how good this meal was!
It looks unpretentious and like a hole in the wall, but the food was actually really good.  We had a mezze platter of two dips, grape leaf rolls, some marinated feta cheese, salad, and two huge meaty friend calamari.

The next morning, we had one last walk around the city before grabbing a delicious lunch of mussels, or moules.  We had been waiting for the Belgian mussels the whole time we were there and were glad we could finally try them.  It was a great deal, 500g of mussels, frites and a beer for 15.00 Euro. The perfect end to a Belgian weekend.

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