Pictures From Day 7

Day 7 started in the quaint village of Lompret, and as you can see, it’s the town that time forgot. The stone hanging from the chain outside of the building is actually a cheese press, which I’ve only seen one other time in my life.

We were in the Chimay region, so we tried to hunt the brewery down to see if we could score a tour. We found the actual brewery, but were told that they have a different location for visitors. They gave us a brochure and we put the address into the GPS, only to find nothing but the Abbey itself. We roamed around the Abbey a bit, but every way we drove, we found nothing else. So, we said “screw it, lets get to the town of Achouffe instead.”

Paul had met Chris, one of the founders of the La Chouffe brewery, a couple of years ago, and Chris had a manuscript in French that he wanted translated to English. Jeff ended-up doing the translation, so when they found out that we were coming, Chris offered to give us a private tou, and then we got to move over to their beatiful tasting room, which is nesteled alonsgide a small pond. We drank with Chris, and enjoyed their beers heartily. We swapped stories, and even chatted some folks up that were actually from the states. Afterword, Chris walked us over to their cafe, where we had a few more drinks, some trout (Paul and Jeff did) and the famous Belgian meatballs I’d read about (they were fantastic!) It was one of the best days we’d had on this trip, and that wasn’t even the end of our day.

Isabel at La Chouffe had set us up to stay at a Bed and Breakfast very close to the brewery, and it holds its own brewery onsite, the smallest brewery in Belgium actually, Inter-Pol. The owners, Paul and Tina, were wonderful, and Paul gave us a quick tour of his brewery, the bar (a cafe’ on the weekends,) and then grabbed some of his beers for us to partake in that night. We drank a couple of bottles while talking to Paul, but he needed some rest. So we moved outside, where we ran into Gavin and Laurie, a couple from the San Francisco area that we’d actually met at La Chouffe earlier that day. After a few minutes, I got a fire going in the little beer garden that had recently been built. A great end to a great day!

By the way, the beers at both La Chouffe and Inter-Pol were some of the best I’ve had on this trip. It truly was an honor and privilege to meet everyone and to sample such great beers!

Pictures From Day 6

Day 6 took us to a couple more WWII sites in the morning, and then we made the drive back to Belgium from France. We headed first to the Pegasus Bridge site. This was an operation by the British to capture and hold a key bridge in the area, as it was vital to move forward from the initial landing zones. They swooped down in gliders, with some landing roughly 150 feet from their objective. The soldiers caught little resistance as the Germans were completely caught off-guard, although this did mark the first casualty of D-Day, but also marked the 1st building liberated on D-Day. The bridge itself was replaced in the 90′s, but they moved the original to a museum just over a small field. It’s an incredibly important event for the D-Day invasion, and remains a key historical site.

After that we stopped to check the Battery at Merville at the recommendation of Chris and Erick(sp) that we met in St Mere Eglise’. The bunkers were in pretty good shape, but what made this a nice site to visit was that they setup each bunker like almost mini museums, with different displays in each, ending with a pretty cool multimedia experience in a the largest bunker. It’s definitely worth visiting if you’re in the area.

On our travels back to Belgium, we chose to take more of the country roads instead of the expensive toll roads, and we happened-upon the town of Brie (which is also the name of the region, and yes, that’s where the cheese originated.) We tried to get lodgingin the town of Chimay but couldn’t, so we were pointed to a smal B&B in a town called Lompret, which is nestled in a deep valley about 5km from Chimay. It was a fantastic place, and such an incredibly charming town. We walked down to have dinner, and were pleased to see that Chimay was available for the equivalent of around $3 a bottle, and the food was fantastic as well. I’m convinced that we couldn’t have found a better place to stay for the night for sure.

Day 2 Pictures

After walking about 5KM in Gent, we were treated to some stunning architecture and wonderful beers. Now we’re sitting in the same basement bar as last night, mainly because it’s fun and they have great WiFi :-)

Tomorrow, we’re leaving Bruges to head to Ypres and other battle sites, and staying at the Bed and Breakfast at the St. Bernardus Brewery!

Our First Day

We all met up at the Brussels airport, only to find that the mobile hotspot wasn’t setup on the cell network, and that Avis decided that we didn’t pre-pay enough for our car…

Luckily, I noticed the huge screen in the dashboard, and pressed the button labeled ‘Nav’ and whaddya know, the car has built-in navigation! We headed about 100KM to Bruges directly, walked around a bit, and found the Half Moon brewery and restaurant. At the insistence of Erin, I ordered the Flemish Stew, and it was delicious. We had a couple of beers there, and found a hotel for the next couple of nights. We parked in the Hippo lot underground, and checked-in to our gorgeous room, which included 4 beds and a huge bathroom. After cleaning up a bit. We headed to the beer establishments here in Bruges, all under the cover of a steady rain, which is perfect for my new camera…

Paul knows the name of these places, but each has been incredibly charming and an absolute treat to visit. Two of them were hidden back in tight alleys, completely hidden from the tourists that roam the streets here. We’re now at a bar that’s Ben the basement of an ancient church, almost resembling a German beer hall, only smaller in stature. We’re all full of beer, and the other guys stopped to eat a 2 pound bucket of Mussels that smelled horribly of the ocean, we’ve had a lot of fancy and strong beers today, and when we finally make it back to the room, I’ll attempt to get some pictures ready to post right here. We don’t have free wi-fi at the hotel, so I’m not sure when the first batch will go up.

Also, I’m running on about 33-34 hours of no sleep, so. We’Ll see how far I make it. It’s been a lot of cool so far, and this is only the beginning. Tomorrow we’re catching a train to Gent for the day, and we’ll probably still hit some spots in Bruges tomorrow night if we’re not exhausted, Stay tuned for a bunch of pics as soon as I can get them converted and posted.