Week 52

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“Museum Night Fever” was back on Saturday 3 March 2012, featuring museums as you’ve never seen them before! Check it out at: http://www.museumnightfever.be/en/  and save the date for next year.

Museum Night Fever

No fewer than 24 Brussels museums stayed open until the wee hours of the morning for an offbeat program of events; a sparkling winter cocktail of exhibitions, concerts, performances, video, workshops and DJs!  Free shuttle busses from STIB operated three different routes.


When the museums closed their doors at 1am,  the night was only just beginning for all the young people and those with a fair amount of stamina…the time had come to exteriorize on the dance floor all the impressions from the museums. In two different venues: the Fuse (techno), recently voted the best Belgian club of all time, and the You Night Club (commercial/house), the dancing heart of Brussels huge after parties where prearranged.

Culture and museums are not all that Brussels has to offer. The city is also greener than you may think, with over 8,000 hectares of green spaces. They take the form of parks, woodlands, and the Foret de Soignes, covering half the region in total. Green areas are distributed unequally around the Brussels-Capital Region; 70% of them are in the outer suburbs, while only 10% is found in the city center.

Park Woluwe

This week we would like to recommend a four hour cycling route that covers most of the “Greenland”. The trail starts at Flagey in Ixelles, tackles small roads until the Boulevard du Triomphe, continues on miner roads parallel to the Chaussee de Wavre until the Parc de Woluwe is reached.

Tervuren bike tour 40K

Here you may take a break and visit the Musée du Tram, www.trammuseumbrussels.be/ Then, like on rails, (tram 44 runs alongside) the cycle lane continues on the Avenue de Tervueren all the way to the Kolonienpaleis in Duisburg. The Palace is part of the Royal Museum for Central Africa, www.africamuseum.be/ .

Africa Museum

Take another well deserved break if it tickle your fancy. Additionally, well worth exploring  are the surrounding parkland and many ponds. Circle the entire park; from here on the adventure really starts. Lustful greenery surrounds the track back through a spectacularly beautiful arboretum (www.arboretumtervuren.be/ ) and the vast forest woodland, the Sonian Forest. The woods consist mainly of beeches and oaks; several trees are more than 200 years old, very wide and towering.

Sonian Forrest

Alongside bridleways huge copper beeches form lovely forest curtains. The Sonian Forest served for a long period as an exclusive hunting ground for the nobility, however is today open to the general public, criss crossed by paths for pedestrians, cyclists and riders.

Easy enjoyable biking

Forest de Soigne

Set out in a north western direction and you will all too soon reach Bois La Cambre just south of the Ixelles ponds and the finish line at Flagey.

Ixelles ponds and Flagey


Treat yourself to a pint at the Irish pub de Valera´s and if it´s a weekend maybe also a well-deserved Sunday Roast.

Gulden Draak

I also got time to taste a really strong beer this week the Gulden Draak (Triple dark 10,5 %) which owes its name to the gilded statue on top of the Belfry in Ghent. This was kind of a special beer with a sweet carmel and malty taste. It also had some bitterness and the alcohol comes in the end and hit you, take care. The design of the bottle is awesome.

Facts of the week;

Drink; Gulden Draak 10,5% Dark Triple

Location; Tervuren 40K on bike

POI: Museum Night Fever (once a year a must)


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Week 51 weekend trip to Spain

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A year has passed and we are still in Brussels. There is yet much to discover, but one of the advantages of the city (which may sound strange) is that it is so easy and affordable to leave; So, last weekend we took a 2 hour something flight to Malaga for less than €90 pp.

Rio Hozgarganta in Los Alcornocales

The weather was sunny and mild, like Swedish summer at its best. If you have time and fancy a short break the following activity package will give you the perfect mix of countryside rambling and lazy days at the beach to a very reasonable cost:

Rent a car at the airport and head for Jimena located at the entrance to the National Park, Los Alcornocales.

Drive for an hour in the direction of Cadiz / Alcaciras. Turn off the pay-road in Sotogrande, exit 132, if I remember correctly. Go inland towards Castellar and thereafter follow directions to Jimena.


Jimena de la Frontera is a historic village located about 35 kilometers inland from San Roque on the road and railway to Ronda.

At Jimena castle

Surrounded by the Los Alcornocales Natural Park and at around 200 meters above sea level, Jimena is a surprising contrast to the coastal affluence of the nearby golf and polo belt in the exclusive area of Sotogrande below.

Olof Palme square in Jimena

With a present population of just over 9,000 inhabitants (some 1,000 of whom are foreign residents – many British), its narrow cobbled streets and white washed Andalusian houses, it certainly retains its village ambience and is a delight to visit.

The view from Casa Henrietta

We recommend you to stay at Casa Henrietta. Ask for room 4 or 9, those have a terrace with spectuclar views of the countryside. We paid just €65 for a double room with breakfast. Spend a day or to exploring the village and the park. Given time, the scenic train ride to Ronda is something out of the ordinary.

Another view from Casa Henrietta

This time of the year the Swedish mood is longing for sun and barefoot walking upon sandy beaches; a day or two at Costa del Sol may overcome that yearning. We have two recommendations in regard to accommodations, check them out at www.booking.com  The first is a four star hotel, the H10 Estepona Palace.

Estepona Palace, from the inside looking out

It wont take you more than three quarters of an hour to drive there from Jimena. They offer a good value half board (103 Euro/2pers. total).

Estepona with la Concha in the background

All rooms have balconies with a sea view andthe seaside offers lovely strolls, the shore can be trailed for miles.

Estepona Palace

Our second choice is conveniently located in Torremolinos with an easy access to the airport.

We stayed at La Barracuda a couple of times; Despite the fact you have an early plane to catch you may still be able to enjoy a last run along the shore in the morning with a subsequent swim. Most likely you will find a car park, off season even a free one.

Anders among the palm trees in Torremolinos

The hotel is a bit run down though and the breakfast is nothing in particular but you will still have the all-important sea view (ask for a room with pool view, and you will get the Sea view as well). Generously included in the price (€62/2pers.) is except a large bottle of water, a fairly flavorsome Cava and a fruit bowl.

It´s amazing, the recreation and adventures you may experience in just a weekend.

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Week 50

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Last week was Valentine when flowers, cards and presents was sent to celebrate the day of Love. Saint Valentine, in one of many legends, was a priest in Rome who secretly married lovers. Before he was killed he wrote a love letter to the daughter of the prison guard and signed it your Valentine.  The tradition to celebrate your loved one on February the 14th started during the 19thcentury in US and rapidly became a huge successaround the globe.

Valentine couple, better a kiss in the woods then ten on your hand!

However I missed it due to travel but on the other hand, in my opinion, Valentine and New Year’s Eve for that matter is for amateurs.

Ground squirrel

In the forrest here in Belgium we see this little animals running all over the place. In UK we saw mostly the Gray Squirrels (originally from North America) and in Sweden we still have the Red Squirrel or European Squirrel.

Breugel route in Pajottenland

We took out the bikes this weekend and went for a longer (45 km) tour along the Beugelroute in the Pajottenland (West of Brussels, part of Flemish Brabant province). It is primarily farmland, quite flat and famous for its many Lambic Breweries like Timermanns, Girardin, de Troch, Lindemans, de Neve and Eylenbosch.

Timmermans Brewery

Along the route there is also small villages and some castles. The route can be reached around 15 km from the center of Brussels. It is most likely possible to use the train to get an easier logistic with the bikes.

We didn’t make the full tour and plan to get back when it is a little bit warmer. More info can be found here: Breugelroute pdf

Lambs, means that spring is not so far away

We have started to learn a little bit of French. How difficult can it be? As Alexander Dumas once said English is badly spoken French. With over 60% of the vocabulary in English coming from French, my wife and I are now having a go at it (self-studies with Michel Thomas). As the second most studied language after English it is spoken around the globe in many countries like Switzerland, Quebec in Canada and some places in Africa like Algiers and Gabon. It is the official language in 29 countries including the official language of UN and some other international organizations. In Belgium 40% of the population is native French speaking but many of the Flemish speaking people also have French as a second language. This means that about 65% of the people in Belgium speaks and understand the language and hopefully we will be among those.

Semla- fastlagsbulle

It is now the Lent period and the coming week with Fat Tuesday (Shrove Tuesday) means that it is Mardi Gras festival time here in Belgium. One of the most well-known is the Carnival of Binche this year 19th -21st of February.

Fat Tuesday is also the official Day of the Semla in Sweden when people eat a lot of these buns filled with marzipan and whipped cream.

Bon secours Blond


The beer this week comes from Caulier Brewery in Péruwelz southwest of Brussels close to the French border. Bon Secours 8% is a bottle conditioned blonde beer. It is sweet, malty beer with some spicy taste. It is a decent beer.


Coming weeks:

  • EU continued
  • In search for the best beer (an on-going quest for the perfect pint)
  • More seafood
  • Cheese
  • Parks
  • Culture, Comics
  • Markets
  • Politics


Facts of the week;

Drink; Bon Secours 8%

Location;  Bruegelroute, 45 K bike tour in Pajottenland

POI: Lambic breweries in Pajottenland

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Week 49

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After a solid English cooked breakfast we headed off for Antwerp, the capital of Flanders. The city is only 45 min away by train from Brussels but feels like a different country alltogether. We arrived by train to the impressive Central Station. Inside we found two monumental neo-baroque facades, a large metal- and glass dome with a gold-plated and marble interior.

Central Station in Antwerp

Antwerp Zoo is just behind the station and was founded in 1843. It is one of the oldest Zoo’s in the world and well-known for of its high level of research and conservation. However it was far too cold for a visit this time.

The main shopping street, the Meir starts not far from the station, which takes the visitor to the historic old town. This street, partly pedestrian, is one of the nicest shopping streets I have seen so far here in Belgium. It is spacious with all the shops you need for your Saturday shopping spree.


On the way up to the old town you will pass the oldest skyscraper in Europe, the Boerentoren also called KBC tower, a 26 storey building build in 1932.

Belgium is famous for its remarkable Grand Place-like squares. Grote Markt in Antwerpen is also impressive with a town hall in Renaissance-style.


Town Hall, Grote Markt Antwerp

In front is the legendary hero Brabo who defeated the giant that was guarding the crossing of the river Scheldt. If the traveller didn’t pay toll, he cut of their hand. Instead Brabo crushed the giant and cut off his hand and through it into the river, hence the name Antwerpen, from Dutch hand werpen.

Cathedral of Our Lady in Antwerp

Around the corner from the square is the Cathedral of Our Lady, a stunning gothic cathedral with a grandiose exterior and large interior with works by Rubens such as The Raising of the Cross, The Descent from the Cross, The Resurrection and The Assumption.

Grote Markt in Antwerp

There are a couple of other churches to look at as well, like St James’ Church that contains the tomb of Rubens and the church of St Paul close by.

Steen, Antwerp Castle

No far away, down by the river stands Antwerp Castle. Built at a time when most castles and other dwellings were normally constructed of wood, the stone edifice of Antwerp Castle was a striking landmark. Known as  ‘t Steen (The Stone) it stands by the river and once formed part of the town’s fortifications.  A hot drink was now needed so we found an interesting little café, La Lombardia or Ginger Love (http://www.gingerlove.be/tour/) a vegetarian place with a lot of exiting drinks and snacks.

One of many Madonnas

Antwerp is also the home town of the great Flemish Baroque painter Peter Paul Rubens so don’t miss out on the cultural opportunities like the Royal Museum of Fine Arts with the old masters Rubens, Van Dyck, Titian. The former home of Rubens the Rubenshuis is now a museum. The Plantin-Moretus Museum contains an exceptional collection of printing material. Not only does it house the two oldest surviving printing presses in the world and complete sets of dies and matrices, it also has an extensive library, a richly decorated interior and the entire archives of the Plantin business, which were inscribed on UNESCO’s world heritage list in 2001 in recognition of their historical significance could be well worth a visit.

de Koninck

There is also beer brewed in Antwerp, the Brouwerij De Koninck (Duvel-Moortgat) and I took a glass of de Koninck 5% Belgian Ale. Not much to talk about. It is a decent pilsner like beer, however better than both Jupiler and Stella.

Het Elfde Gebod , Kathedraalcafé

Before heading back to Brussels we had dinner at and old restaurant Het Kathedraalcafé (Torfbrug 10) also known as the Het Elfde Gebod (the 11th commandment) with a nice range of Trappist beers and Flemish food. The interior was sure different. The food was good although it was a crowded Saturday afternoon the services was acceptable.

Coming weeks:

  • EU continued
  • In search for the best beer (an on-going quest for the perfect pint)
  • More seafood
  • Cheese
  • Parks
  • Culture, Comics
  • Markets
  • Politics


Facts of the week;

Drink; de Koninck 5%, Belgian Ale

Location; La Lombardia/Ginger Love, Het Kathedraalcafé  

POI: Antwerp (see above)

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Week 48

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Brussels in the cold…

The cold weather hit Brussels like it did with the rest of Europe, no escape for us. The temperatures are still well below -10 during the night, which was somewhat unexpected. Normally it is between 1-6 degrees over zero.

Brussels weather

This gives us a perfect opportunity to visit some of the many museums here in Brussels.

Museum of Natural Science was first on the agenda. They have one permanent exhibition with terrestrial minerals, mollusks, shellfish, insects etc. The Dinosaur Gallery, with more than thirty complete skeletons and numerous dinosaur fragments is the largest dinosaur exhibition in Europe. The Gallery of Evolution is unique in Belgium! No fewer than 600 fossils and 400 animal exhibits tell the story of animal biodiversity over the years.


The museum was founded 1846 and shortly after in 1878, the largest find of Iguanodon fossils (dinosaurs) to date occurred in a coal mine at Bernissart in Belgium. At least 38 Iguanodon individuals were uncovered, of which 30 (complete skeletons) are on display since 1882. They were quite large creatures 10-13m and weighed up to 3 ton. Since 2007, a completely renovated and enlarged dinosaur hall of 4,580 m² is the largest dinosaur hall in the world. This is definitely worth a visit and is very impressive. The whole museum is nice, informative and a day here is well spent.


Oldies but goldies


Next museum visited was the AutoWorld, another very impressive show in Brussels. AutoWorld is a vintage car museum and located in Jubilee Park just to the right of the arch below.

The Triumphal Arch 1905

It has a large and varied collection of 350 old cars, European and American automobiles from the late 19th century until the seventies. It is said to be one of the biggest presentation of old timers in the world at least in Europe anyway.

De Dion-Bouton 1912

The showroom includes cars like the one above eactly 100 years old and also Minervas, such models as a 1928 Bentley, a 1930 Bugatti and a 1930 Cord, and several limousines which belonged to the Belgian Royal Family. This was a very educational visit where you can follow the history of the car since its early days. The museum is open all days of the week.

Sainte-Catherine Place

For lunch we went to Place Sainte-Catherine, it is sometimes referred to as the old fish market. Its quays, which were filled with fishing boats in the early days, you will today find assorted fish traders and restaurants as the last reminders of the original activity found on this square.  These days it is surrounded by some of the best seafood restaurants in the city. However not on our menu today because we heard about a gourmet burger place, Ellis.

Ellis Gourmet Burger

They serve perfect homemade burgers in all forms and shapes including ones with lamb, chicken and salmon. Nice place, fast service, decent prices and very good burgers.

Afterwards we were craving for some sweets, through recommendation’s we visited a place with delicious pastries Fabrice Collignon in Ixelles.

Fabrice Collignon

I will not mention anything about the banana beer left from last week. Heaven help me nothing to write about! But at Ellis I had a Maredsous Blond 6% with the burger. This is an amber coloured beer. It reminds me of Leffe or Grimbergen Blond. It is rather agreeable with a sweet aftertaste.


Coming weeks:

  • EU continued
  • In search for the best beer (an on-going quest for the perfect pint)
  • More seafood
  • Cheese
  • Parks
  • Culture, Comics
  • Markets
  • Politics


Facts of the week;

Drink; Maredsous Blond 6%

Food : Burgers, Pastries

Location; Ellis Gourment Burger, Place Sainte-Catherine 4, www.ellisgourmetburger.com;  Fabrice Collignon, Chaussée de Waterloo, 587, www.fabricecollignon.be

POI: AutoWorld, Museum of Natural Science

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Week 47

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It is time to look into Belgium and its history after almost a year here. I decided to look into the background to the existing melting pot of languages French, Dutch and German. In French Holland is called les Pays-Bas (literally translated “the Low Countries”). How did this happen? There is also a larger African community. Wikipedia helped me out.

The Low Countries

Historically, Belgium, were known as the Low Countries consisting of The Netherlands and Luxembourg. The region was called Belgica in Latin because of the Roman province Gallia Belgica which covered more or less the same area. From the 16th century until the Belgian revolution in 1830, when Belgium seceded from the Netherlands, many battles between European powers were fought in the area of Belgium, causing it to be dubbed the battleground of Europe, a reputation strengthened by both World Wars.

Statue in Ixelles

The Berlin Conference of 1885 ceded control of the Congo Free State to King Leopold II as his private possession. Congo was primarily a source of revenue from ivory and rubber production. Over a period of time was an international outcry of concern for the extreme and savage treatment of the Congolese population under Leopold II, which led the Belgian state to assume responsibility for the government of the colony in 1908, henceforth called the Belgian Congo.





Belgian Kongo

After the invasion by the Germans during the First World War, Belgium took control over Ruanda-Urundi (Rwanda-Burundi today) which were later mandated to Belgium in 1924 by the League of Nations. In the aftermath of the First World War, the Prussian districts of Eupen and Malmedy were annexed by Belgium in 1925, thereby causing the presence of a German-speaking minority. The Belgian Congo gained independence in 1960 and Ruanda-Urundi followed with its independence two years later.



Then things started to happen that led to EU and the reason why I am her.

EU Flag

Belgium joined NATO as a founding member and formed the Benelux group of nations with the Netherlands and Luxembourg. Belgium became one of the six founding members of the European Coal and Steel Community in 1951 and of the European Atomic Energy Community and European Economic Community, established in 1957. The latter is now the European Union, for which Belgium hosts major administrations and institutions.
The prevalent (2007) foreign nationals were Italian (171,918), French (125,061), Dutch (116,970), Moroccan (80,579), Spanish (42,765), Turkish (39,419) and German (37,621). Immigrants since 1945 and their descendants are estimated by 2008 to have formed 22% of the total population.
This information led me to put up the following quest to visit typical restaurants from all these nationalities here in Brussels!
This weekend I started with an Italian one in Saint Gilles, Monticelli. From outside nothing special, looks like a typical run down café here in Brussels. Inside there was an old pool table covered by a large cloth and a couple of tables.


They don’t do anything to make it look nice but the food is something different. This low profile family kitchen is extremely good. We shared a large Mozzarella di Bufala, Saltimbocca alla romana and Conchiglioni al gorgonzola.

Mozzarella di Bufala

For dessert we shared a lime cheese cake with an espresso. Everything cooked to perfection and was delicious. The food was also very reasonably priced around 10-14€ for the main course. Large portions and they spoke English as well. The menu changes on a daily bases but you need to reserve a table. Of course an Italian wine to see and we chose the house wine from  Farnese a Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. A soft very likeable wine.




Lambic Chapeau Abricot


Beer is still on the agenda every weekend. My wife asked why I never wrote about the fruit beers. Okay so I tasted a Lambic Chapeau  Abricot 3,5%? This comes from de Troch brewery and is sweet but beer not really. It is light and drinkable but one is enough. I save the banana one for later!






Coming weeks:
•    EU continued
•    In search for the best beer (an on-going quest for the perfect pint)
•    More seafood
•    Cheese
•    Parks
•    Culture, Comics
•    Markets
•    Politics

Facts of the week;
Drink; Lambic Chapeau  Abricot 3,5%
Location; Restaurant Monticelli, (28A rue de Lombardie 1060 Bruxelles, Phone :  02.534.35.85)
Food:  Saltimbocca alla romana and Conchiglioni al gorgonzola

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Week 46

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Not very far, just ½ hour north west of Brussels, is the wonderful city of Ghent.


Many times overlooked compared to its better known neighbour Bruges. Ghent is the capital of East Flanders and today a busy city with a port and university. What not many know is that it was one of the largest and richest cities of northern Europe during the Middle Ages. Today it is the second largest city in Belgium.


The word Ghent most likely comes from the Celtic word Ganda which means confluence and fits because the city started as a settlement at the joining together of the Rivers Scheldt and Lys.

During the later part of 800 the city was attacked twice by the Vikings but survived and flourished during the 11th century to 13th century when the city was even bigger then London and second to Paris as the largest in Europe.

Gravensteen castle

Today you can still see evidence from this period in the Belfry and the towers of Saint Bavo cathedral and Saint Nicholas Church; all impressive skyline from those golden times.

The towers of Ghent


The Belfry

Saint Bavo cathedral









I had a delicious ‘Stoverij’, the classic Flemish meat stew, preferably made with a generous addition of brown ‘Trappist’ (strong abbey beer) and served with french fries. The restaurant Stropke Brassiere (http://www.brasserietstropke.be/) near the castle is a nice old place with good food and service.

Stropke Brasserie

The people of Ghent proudly wear the nickname ‘Stropke’, which is actually the round part of the rope through which a convict has to stick his head before being hanged. The citizens of Ghent received this name because of the punishment inflicted on the city by its most famous citizen, Emperor Charles V. They also have a very nice locally brewed blond house beer Stropke. A little bit perfume in the taste but quite nice. I also tried a more well known local one from Ghent.

Beers in Ghent

Augustijn started 700 years ago, in 1295, the Augustijner-abbey of Gent was created. That’s the reason why 1295 is printed on every bottle of this abbey style ale. Today it is licensed to Brewery Van Steenberge, situated a few miles north of Gent in a small village, called Ertvelde. Agustijn Donkel is a dark ale of 7%. It is a little bit light not very complex taste and easy to drink.

Coming weeks:
•    EU continued
•    In search for the best beer (an on-going quest for the perfect pint)
•    More seafood
•    Cheese
•    Parks
•    Culture, Comics
•    Markets
•    Politics

Facts of the week;
Drink; Agustijn Donkel 7%, Stropke House beer

Food: ‘Stoverij’, the classic Flemish meat stew (again)

Location; Stropke Brasserie

POI: Ghent


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Week 45

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What is in Leuven?
A/ The region’s largest and oldest university (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven)
B/ The world’s largest brewery group (Anheuser-Busch InBev)
C/ UNESCO world heritage site (The Grand Béguinage of Leuven)

Walk in Begijnhof

Just a short (30 km) drive north east of Brussels is the capital of the province of Flemish Brabant in the Flemish Region of Belgium. It is an old city mentioned already 891 when the Vikings were around the area. In the 18th century Leuven became even more important as a result of the flourishing of the brewery now named AB InBev, and whose flagship beer, Stella Artois, is brewed in Leuven.

The city was heavily damaged during both world wars but was re-build by different charities.


Town Hall in Leuven

There is a lot to see like the Town hall at Grote Markt with the monumental St Peter’s Church just opposite. Voirste Huys (front house) is the well-known front of the Town hall and was completed in 1469 and bears some influence from Brussels. It was damaged during the wars but was re-built.

St Peter's Church in Leuven

Today Leuven is a student city with a very lively bar scenes including Belgium’s longest bar and the smallest one. 37,00 students with more than 5,000 international ones and with a staff of 10,000 people it is a big university. Of course the University buildings (some from 1425) are also a dominating part of the city.

One of many university buildings

Another interesting part of the city is The Grand Béguinage of Leuven (Groot Begijnhof). It is a well preserved and completely restored historical quarter containing a dozen of streets in the south of downtown Leuven.


With some 300 apartments in almost 100 houses, it is one of the largest still existing béguinages in the Low Countries. The béguinage stretches on both sides of the river Dijle, which splits into two canals inside the béguinage, thus forming an island. Three bridges connect the parts of the béguinage.

Begijnhof and river Dijle

The complete béguinage is owned by the University of Leuven and used as a campus, especially for housing students and academic guests. It was built around 1232 and is today a UNESCO World Heritage site.

As explained in an earlier blog (from Bruges) the Beguines was not really a religious order but a society of women whom due to wars and other problems turned themselves away from the world and devoted themselves to live in humility where God had his place. There were also mystical ingredients with ecstasy and visions during their services.


Beer: Stella Artois 5,2% is today brewed in over one billion liters per year. During 2007, the “reassuringly expensive” slogan was dropped, and the word “Stella” has been avoided in the advertisements.

Stella Artois

This has been seen as a reaction to the lager’s perceived connection with aggression and binge-drinking in the United Kingdom, where it is nicknamed “wife beater”.

Stella Artois is one of the world’s best-selling beers and is available in more than 80 countries. It is a typical lager well suited to a basic meal. Nothing special but still one of the best everyday beers.





Coming weeks:
•    EU continued
•    In search for the best beer (an on-going quest for the perfect pint)
•    More seafood
•    Cheese
•    Parks
•    Culture, Comics
•    Markets
•    Politics

Facts of the week;
Drink; Stella Artois 5,2%
Location; Leuven
Poi: Grand Béguinage of Leuven

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Week 44

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It is nice to have guests and to revisit places like Bruges. The sixty minutes train ride from Brussels takes you into one of the  most popular tourist attractions in Belgium. Everything is within walking distance from the railway station.


A short walk takes you to the Minnewater which used to be the landing stage of the barges or track boats that provided a regular connection between Bruges and Ghent. Today it is one of Bruges’ most romantic beauty spots.


Equally atmospheric, yet of a totally different nature, is the Beguinage. Although the ‘Princely Beguinage Ten Wijngaarde’, founded in 1245, is no longer occupied by beguines, but by nuns of the Order of Saint Benedict, you can still form an excellent picture of what daily life looked like in the 17th century.

Not far from Begijnhof is the only brewery in Bruges citycenter the well-known Halve Maan. They have a nice tour which gives an interesting insight to the brewery.

Brewery ‘De Halve Maan’ (The Half Moon) can go back on a very long history. Already in 1564 the town register mentions the existence of the brewery ‘Die Maene’ (The Moon) on the Walplein.
In 1856 Leon Maes, also known as Henri I, becomes owner of the property. After Henri I’s death in 1867, his sons Henri II and Achère took over the brewery. During the industrial revolution Henri went to England to learn about the newest technologies in order to be able to apply it in Bruges. He built an English maltery and kiln and started brewing ‘English-style’ beers such as stout and pale-ale.



Through the other family members Henri III and IV the brewery continue to develop. The daughter of Henri IV Veronique took over in the 80’s and she launched a new beer. The beer was a bit stronger than others and that is why it got the appropriated name of ‘Straffe Hendrik’ (Strong Henri). In 2005 her son took over and revived the brewery significantly and launched the award winning Brugse Zot.





After a taste of the beers I suggest a strol a couple of blocks to have a closer look at the famous Almshouses.


These 14th-century dwellings were charitable institutions, sometimes set
up by the guilds to lodge their elderly members, sometimes set up by
widows or well-to-do burghers who wanted to ensure their place in
heaven. For that purpose, each set of almshouses had its own chapel where
the occupants of the almshouses would be expected to send their
prayers of thanks up to heaven.

The walk continues towards Markt and Burg square and on the way you pass this magnificent building.

St Johns Hospital

The former Hospital of Saint John (13th-14th century) has a proud eight century-long history. The oldest documents even date back to the 12th century! Here nuns and monks took good care of pilgrims, travellers and the sick.

Burg square

Burg is the most majestic square in the city. So, take your time to admire its grandeur. The main building is the City Hall  (1376-1420), one of the oldest city halls in the BeNeLux area.







There are plenty of restaurants and bars, we had a bite at Maximilian van Oostenrijk (Wijngaardplein 16). A wonderful restaurant with good service and food. I had Waterzooi with chicken. It is a traditional dish from Flanders. A stew made of fish or chicken, vegetables including carrots, leeks and potatoes, herbs, eggs, cream and butter.

Waterzooi chicken

I have already tasted the beers from de Halve Maan brewery.

Tripel Karmeliet

Instead I go for a Tripel Karmeliet 8% an Abbey tripel from Bosteels brewery, a blond and rather smooth taste. It is a really nice and well balanced tripel experience.






In addition to this testing why not try Judas 8% from Alken-Maes (Heineken brewery). This is a Belgian strong ale with a sweet and  slightly bittery taste. It is quite good and much better then expected from a big brewery like Heineken.




Coming weeks:
•    EU continued
•    In search for the best beer (an on-going quest for the perfect pint)
•    More seafood
•    Cheese
•    Parks
•    Culture, Comics
•    Markets
•    Politics

Facts of the week;

Drink;   Tripel Karmeliet 8%, Judas 8%

Food: Waterzooi chicken

Location; De Halve Maan brewery, Maximilian van Oostenrijk Restaurant (Bruges)

POI: Begijnhof, Minnewater, St Johns Hospital (Bruges)


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Week 43

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Another year, another country and another city; 2011 was a new and interesting experience for me and my wife. The year in Brussels and Belgium has been a very positive one.

Grand Place in the evening

The New Year celebration was quite traditional here and we had some friends from Sweden over to join us.

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If you like to see some serious fireworks look at this from London.

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We did a city tour and saw some of the traditional sights, visited restaurants and pubs where we had  carbonade flamande (Flemish beefstew in beer) at Le Cirio,

Le Cirio

Moules Frites at Chez Leon and beers at Poechenellekelder, Bon Vieux Temps, Le Bier Circus to mention a few.

Gaston and my wife

I finally got to see the Belgian Comic Strip Center (Rue de Sables 20).

Belgian Comic Strip Center

The museum is housed in a gem of Art Nouveau by the grand master himself Victor Horta (1906). Here the visitor gets a thorough view on the comic strip industry in Belgium with its long history.

Lucky Luke and my wife

Of course the classics like Tintin, Lucky Luke and the Smurfs are all to be seen. There was also an interesting exhibition on the Romanian comic strip history. A large bookshop, café and a small exhibition in Art Nouveau can be visited.








Not far from the museum is one of Brussels wellknown pubs Le Bier Circus (www.bier-circus.be) situated, an establishment well worth a visit.

Le Bier Circus

You will find an extensive menu of beers covering Lambic, Geuze, Kriek, Framboise, Faro, Trappist, Witbier, Oud Bruinen, Honey beers and several blondes. The beer menu also includes a short desciption of the taste which will help you choose.

If you are hungry and everything is closed there is always a Pizza machine, completely automatic. I found this one at Luxembourg railway station.

Automatic pizza machine


At Beer Circus I tested “Avec les Bons Vœux de la Brasserie Dupont 9,5% the longest beer name I have encountered sofar. It means best wishes from Dupont brewery. The Bons Vœux is a blond top fermentation beer with refermentation in the bottle.

Bons Vœux

Since 1970, the brewery has been brewing a special beer to give as a new years present to their best clients. This Bons Vœux is coppery blond,the taste has a nice bitterness, fruity and mild. It was quite good.


The next one is Oerbier 9% means original, from the spring and comes from De Dolle brewery. This beer has been brewed in small scale (5 gallons). Oerbier is brewed from no less than 6 malts. After a couple of years Oerbier tastes like it has been blended with wine … The little person on the glasses is the Oerbier man, a simple creature who holds a brewers fork in his right hand, symbolizing the work and science, but looking to the other side, the result of all this, the glass of (Oer)beer. The artwork on the poster is a wallpainting found in Spain. The beer is  dark brown on the sweet side but with a floral taste that I didn’t like. There is in additiono some bitterness with a taste of hop and spices.


2012 is just starting and I am really looking forward to new and exiting experiences.

Coming weeks:
•    EU continued
•    In search for the best beer (an on-going quest for the perfect pint)
•    More seafood
•    Cheese
•    Parks
•    Culture, Comics
•    Markets
•    Politics

Facts of the week;

Drink; Avec les Bons Vœux de la Brasserie Dupont 9,5%, Oerbier 9%

Location; Le Bier Circus (Rue de l’Enseignement, 57)

POI: Belgian Comic Strip Center (Rue de Sables 20)

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