Leuven on Foot, Beer Tasting in Diest
Trip Start Jun 17, 2010
11Trip End Jun 28, 2010
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Where I stayed
I finally can't stand it any longer and wake Marshall at 8:30 –I mean we have things to do; we can sleep when we get back to the States!
So we head down to breakfast
I gently inform Marshall over breakfast that today we will be mostly on foot. My goal is to leave the car until our plans later in the evening. He was not too sure he liked this plan but being a trooper we loaded up and headed out to Kruidtuin Botanical Gardens in Leuven (www.leuven.be) . The walk was so interesting to get there, beautiful city squares, churches, interesting architecture and all kinds of people on the go.
We arrive to a magical little 4 acre garden that is breathtaking. The whole garden is divided into a series of rooms, ups and downs, different types of gardens, and huge greenhouses. We spend an hour or two just roaming around. Marshall found hops and bees so he was a happy camper. We just missed rhododendrons and azaleas based on the spent blooms but there was plenty of other flowering plants to make me happy
We leave there and head to De Langen Das Festival –The Longest Day. Many downtown blocks are car free today and there are thousands of people here, and I do mean thousands. Kiosks line the streets; stores have all kinds of sales. The one thing we were both surprised we didn’t see much of was food vendors. In comparison, less than one tenth of the vendors were prepared food. What food there was we found to be fresh vegetables. I wonder if they have some sort of laws or something. Anyway we roam for hours and hours (later we realize in total at least 6 hours were on foot). We were freezing! There was a north wind whipping through some of the streets. Marshall bought a sweater and I bought a neck scarf just to keep warm –and we even had lightweight jackets on! The temperature was in the low 50’s and with the wind felt like 40’s. I loved the change from what we left at home, 95 degrees and 90% humidity. Heavenly!
Our hotel package included two more beers stops. We decide to pop into one of them to warm up. It took us 30 minutes to find it. Nestled back off an alley was a little pub called Wentelsteen (www.wentelsteen.be ). A charming restaurant pub filled with locals we would have never found if not in our packagewww.brasserieimprovisio.be ) –also tucked away in a back street. Here we find a hipper kind of place. We are served a La Trappe Trappist beer with a veal salad. This is going to sound strange but it was a like a tuna salad plate only made with cooked chopped veal in place of tuna. It was strangely delicious but served cold. Since it was more like an appetizer serving, we leave there in search of something hot.
We find ourselves back on the main drag, Brusselstraat (sp) and opt for something right in the middle of everything so we can people watch and what a show. We are right beside a stage that changes performers about every ten minutes. While there we saw belly dancers, country music singers, Gaelic singers, girls with batons, and some guy reciting French words –poetry perhaps? We also watch the passersby. It is amazing how many women are wearing 3 and 4 inch high heels on the cobblestone streets and most people seem to be dressed more for a special event than a day at a street fair. While we watch the show, we settle on a croquet monsieur for Marshall (hot ham and cheese sandwich) and a bowl of goulash for me (beef and vegetable soup). Yes, we had beer with that I had a Hoegarden citron and he a Duvel. It was good to be out of the wind and give our feet a short rest. About 45 minutes later we were on our way to explore some more. Some of the odd ball things we saw (some are in the pictures): A bicycling pub –literally a small pub where everyone is peddling and singing while they drink beer, Grannies on Segways –10 or dressed up in old timey granny barb zooming around on Segways, A small band on 6 or so person bicycle, and lets no forget the ganders-a woman dressed up like a conductor literally leading 10 or so large geese on a parade through the streets –video is attached
It was a fun day. Our feet our hurting so we make our way back to our hotel. We both lie down and listen to our feet scream when released from their shoes. After 30 minutes or so we prepare for our next stop of the evening. I had stumbled upon a beer tasting occurring this evening in my research in the next city over, Diest ( www.diest.be ). A local club of beer appreciators gets together once a month for beer tasting events, some formal some not so. So we load up Gertie/GPS and are on our way in the car. Once again it should be noted there are lots and lots of one way streets here. Sometimes the logical route from point A to point B cannot possibly happen. What should have been a 30 minute drive took about an hour. We ended up just a few minutes late and were welcomed warmly into a charming little pub called Ons te Huis in Diest. Here we also encounter our first assault on the senses of cigarette smoke. We were Overwhelmed after having been away from it for so long. Most everyone is smoking, including the owner. We make our way through 8 small tastings of some really great beers and one I thought tasted remotely like dishwater. Rather than the judging like we do back home, they have a rating scale strictly based on taste so it is subject to each person’s personal taste. There are 15 of us tasting. There is a scale from 0-dishwater to 10 –"Moet op de Kaart" which Google translates to “must map” but must mean something like off the chart or something
So we finally make it back to the hotel about 12:30. First thing we do is strip our clothes and hang them in the bathroom to air out. I am sure they will reek in the morning. Tomorrow we head to Freiburg. I don’t believe our apartment has Internet so I am not sure when the next update will be posted. Afscheid! (Goodbye in Dutch)