Monday, August 11, 2014

The Road to from Gent to Lille

Adam and I love three things about traveling:
1.) Trying new foods
2.) Experiencing a new cultures/scenery
3.) History

One thing that we enjoyed about our Ireland trip last fall was that it was our first time renting a car to explore a foreign country instead of limiting ourselves to the routes of public transportation, so it allowed us the freedom to get lost on the back roads. It was for this reason we opted for car rental in Belgium as well. We woke up very early on our final day in Gent and had time to kill before our first planned stop (limited to when the brewery opened) and opted to venture up to the Belgian coast. We were so glad that we did this!!!!!

Raversyde, Ostend, Belgium

Oh how I LOVE the beach and ocean....HEAVEN!

Ok, so yeah, the water was freezing. As cold as New England waters in the summer, so no thank you to getting in.

As we were driving down the coastal road, which was beautifully sandwiched between the beach and the sand dunes, was the gun turrets sporadically popping up on the dunes. We were intruigued and went exploring. This was how we found the gem of Raversyde Atlantik (yes, this is the actual spelling) Wall Museum. Needless to say it was FANTASTIC and there went 2.5 hours of our morning in a flash. It was seriously amazing. You spend hours with your included audio guide touring the underground bunkers and tunnels, learning about the functions of this protective out-cove during the war.

Raversyde, Atlantik Wall Museum

Actual decommissioned mines


The Atlantik Wall, all the bunkers are under these tunes


A vantage breakpoint from the underground

Prepared to defend

After this, we had a few breweries on our checklist to knock out, so off we went!

De Dolle Brewey

De Dolle Brewey

De Dolle was your typical small brewery outfit that we did not feel the need to do a tour of. We just sat in the pleasant pub for a while as Adam sampled their brews.

De Dolle Brewey

This was where Adam was most interested in getting to FOR THE WHOLE TRIP: Westvleteren Trappist Brewery. Home of the most difficult Trappist beer in the world to get your hands on AND rated "the best beer IN THE WORLD". It was a madhouse when we arrived, but it is like that all of the time. In order to buy a single case of beer, you have to register ahead of time and you are only allowed one case per month that you must pick up from the brewery. There is no shipping. There is no delivery. There is no getting this almost anywhere else (some small pubs buy their case per month and sell for higher prices). There is a cafe adjacent to the brewery where you can sample all of their brews though, and a little known secret (it took a asking a few servers) is that you can buy one bottle per person to walk away with. Why didn't we get a case you ask? Because they were already sold out ahead of time. Adam was in his beer geek glory here! I must admit, I even enjoyed the taste of the Westvleteren 12.

As we were leaving the abbey and heading to the next one...guess what we found!?!?! Hop fields! My crazy man-child of a husband LOVES hops. Hops makes beer. Hops makes Adam happy. Adam pulled over on the side of the road, parked the car, got out, and asked for this picture to be taken. My man is in love.

Unfortunately for Adam (and not announced anywhere), our next stop was closed. St. Barnardus was another Trappist brewery on the list. He was able to find this as pubs and bars to sample though, so he wasn't too heart broken.

After this is was fine to depart beautiful Belgium for a few days and head to France, so off we went. Until next time....