Week 19

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This week my good wife takes over and writes her first blog ever. Please Karin the space is yours:

Guest blog by the not so snooping wife of the curious Swede

No one meets the standard of my loving and bountiful husband.

As a birthday gift I was given the best ever surprise trip to the Belgian coast and to the famous medieval town of Bruges. I will now try to evoke some of the adventures that took place during the three days away from Brussels.

We sat off early Saturday morning avoiding heavy traffic. Most of the Citizen’s left already on the Thursday due to the extra days off. Anders had it all planned. I just had to lean back and relax; which is somehow quite an achievement for someone with control issues.

The first place of interest on the agenda was Ypres. The town is situated 130 km from Brussels, so the place was soon reached. Only the hardest of hearts are unmoved by Ypres. The town was the last bastion by the Germans in WW1. As such, the region was a barrier to a German advance towards the French costal ports around Calais. More than 300,000 Allied soldiers were killed there during four years of fighting. The place is dotted with cemeteries and memorials. At Grote Markt you can visit the Flanders Fields Museum were you may experience the life at- and behind the front lines.

After a fair share of culture and history it was time for some easy going pleasures to lighten up. The town close by, Poperinge acted as a posting station for soldiers heading to- or from Ypres. To the Belgian mind, Poperinge is associated with beer. Plenty of small breweries operate in the area.

The beer outlet

The town has been the centre of the Belgium´s hops-growing region for centuries.





Fields of hop(e)


Seeing all the hop fields from the car window made Anders yearning for a beer.  Being a very well planned excursion, as expected, the best Belgian Beer comes from this very region.



Walk around the Abbey


It is produced by the monks in the St Sixtus Abbey in Westvleteren. A nice, 7k walk takes you around the grounds and along the hop fields.






Here and there you see storks on the fields and sturdy cattle, Belgian Blue. (We actually bought some of the meat to try back home.)

The beef



In an establishment just outside the Abbey the very famous Westvleteren beers are served.

Westvleteren 12 " Best beer in the world"

From here on I had to drive……

I sat off for the coast and the well-known sand dunes in de Panne.

The Dunes




After another stroll, this time along the dunes we began our search for a place to stay overnight. The Belgian coastline is only 35 k, so you can imagine the high rise! Even so, we managed to find the most adoring little guesthouse, situated completely lonely at the sand dunes close to Westende.

Hotel&Restaurant St-Laureins


And even so, we got the best room with a view over the dunes and the North Sea.  The hotel had ten rooms and we got the only one with a waterbed. Not just any waterbed, but a medical waterbed, the kind of bed that is given to very old persons with bedsores. So very appropriate, that is! You don´t need a vivid imagination for comprehending how good it felt.



The next morning, waking up at my 58 birthday I felt reborn! If you wonder, the hotel is named St-Laureins,           www.st-laureins.be , ask for room nr 8. By the way, the restaurant was superb, no need to leave for dinner. We had a very tasty baby lobster.



After the usual early yoga-ritual we headed for a morning run along the beach accompanied by the traditional birthday swim. Regardless were, I continuously try to get a dip in the Sea on my special day. This year it came easy. After a nice breakfast we had some more sightseeing scheduled. Anders had read up upon an extraordinary village, Lissewege, where most of the small cottages were white coated.


And we got to see more of the beautiful countryside.





Skåne? no Lissewege


It looks very much like the countryside of Skåne. Along the narrow roads stood bended willows, the lupines very in blossom and you could hear the Cuckoo through the car window. The only thing different was the lovely tunes from glockenspiel upon entering any adjacent village or town.



The second night was pre booked in Knokke Heist. This town is situated at the far end of the coastline, close to the Dutch border. But after the lovely place we stumbled across the previous night everything looked bleak in comparison. The sight of all the skyscrapers and the commerce didn´t thrill us. But we made the best of the situation, as always. We counted our options and decided to take the broad walk in surge for a pizza and a strawberry cake. It sounds effortless, but let me tell you, it wasn´t. It took more than two hours before we found an Italian restaurant. The pizza was OK, but 18 euro a piece, that´s a little bit hefty even on a Birthday. And strawberry cakes where nowhere to be found. We even jumped on the tram going between De Panne and Knokke to facilitate our pursuit, but in vain. To summon it up; when at the Belgian coast, head for St-Laureins!


The next day we went to Bruges. But we made a stop first in the most charming village of Damme.

When in the area, this is a must. The best way to explore the surroundings, though, is by bike or boat.

Damme and the canals

There are plenty of routes along the many canals.


The distance to either the coast or to Bruges is only 10k, making the village of Damme the better location for an overnight stay, at least far better than Knokke. My bike was, unfortunately stolen the first day in Brussels so we made a lovely hiking tour along the canals instead. Next time, for sure, we will rent bikes or even consider buying new ones.

Still in Damme

The walk around Damme










Then, finally we came to the main stop of our three day excursion-Bruges. This city has carefully cherished the architectural and artistic treasures from the past. Along with a few other canal based, northern cities, such as Antwerp, it is sometimes referred to as “the Venice of the North”.  How romantic! Allow yourself a full day in town; Bruges has a lot to offer. Anders even found a beer shop that offered all 780 Belgian Beers at 2be,           www.2-be.biz and I finally took pleasure in the best ever strawberry cake. I´m a lot of things but being a quitter is not the one. Thank you Anders for a pleasant birthday trip and for being so enduring.


The Beer Shop

The beer this week is a Lambic fruit beer from Lindemans. A sparkling cherry flavoured brew which is smooth and refreshing, if you like this type of sweet beers. It has some bitterness but not much. It is very red and served chilled my wife enjoys it, as you can see in the picture above.

Coming weeks:

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

Facts of the week;

Drink; Lindeman Kriek 4%, Lambic fruit beer

Location; St-Laureins, very nice hotel and restaurant in Westende by the coast;  www.st-laureins.be

Point of Interest: Brügge, Damme, Ypres

Food: Baby Lobster

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