The Flemish and The Irish!
Trip Start Sep 16, 2010
20Trip End Oct 05, 2010
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Where I stayed
Hotel Moon Eat and Sleep
How cool are the Flemish people?! They seem to take great pride in appearances, but in also having fun doing it. The best example is their beers, and not just the beers but how they serve them. Every Belgian beer has it's own unique glass. Every bartender has his own little setup on how to pour the perfect beer, including cutting the head off; a quick dip in a sink of clean water; then it's own little coaster or even paper dressing around the bottom of the stemmed glass. They love it more when you take the effort to point this out. I said it's never seen in Australia, they're more interested in turnover and not taking pride in it and his response was simple "you have to have fun in whatever you do." He loved his job, but I loved the way he put pride and entertainment into what we consider a menial job in Australia. The fact that he's done it in a way that adds value to the customer is even better! It's making me re-assess how I will deal with my job
On a side note about the beers: They each have a different favourite and love telling you which one is better. I mentioned that there is the reputed "best beer in the world" about 150km from here (Westvleteren 12) and asked if it was worth the trip. "You can travel all that way for a beer sold in a little bottle in a little cafe… or you can have this one that actually won the crown last year for 2,90€" 2,90???? That's $4.00AU for a bottle of the beer that won the crown last year. I can't buy a schooner of VB for that in a pub in Australia and 2,90€ is also getting expensive in the pub. They start around 2 - 2,50€.
Mum… Dad… I love you guys, but I'm staying here. You know, purely for economical reasons, like saving money while simultaneously enjoying the best the world has to offer for beer. It's perfectly logical, isn't it? It's like saying "pay $50,000 for a new Daewoo, or get this new BMW for $30,000… maybe pay another 5,000 for a Porsche?"
I'm on a train to Antwerpen right now to do some shopping and check out some breweries, bars and maybe even the nightlife
Today. Lunch time.
I got up an hour ago. Last night wasn't monumentally huge, as I was back in the hotel around 11:30 - but 8% beers have a certain effect on you. Yesterday, I landed at Antwerpen station and had a quick look around. The first thing I saw inside was STELLA ARTOIS in neon. Yes, they had a bar in the train station. Guess what my first stop was…. uh huh…. the bar. Was I blown away or what? It's lined with GOLD and I don't mean the bar, I mean the whole interior and ceiling of the bar. I had to take some photos of this. To be fair, the whole interior of the train station is marble with gold, they just put a bar in one of the flash areas. I can't get over how much gold I've seen over here on old buildings, cathedrals, clock towers, statues, etc
One beer down and I walk outside the station. Of course, he slugged me 3,10€ but it is a station full of tourists. It's still too cheap by Australian standards
One of the bartenders from earlier in the day knocked off not long after I got there, but stuck around and I introduced him to a salted Guinness, his response was "fook, it's not bad!" and he showed me a Baby Guinness shot - Baileys floated on Tia Maria. Very tasty! A lot of laughs (and a lot of drinks) later and I was out the door, back to Sint-Niklaas. Last train was 11:30, so I couldn't stick around as late as I wanted. Unfortunately, I met and had to sit next to Samantha, a gorgeous model, on the train back to Sint-Niklaas. She'd just finished a long day of work as I had just finished a long day of drinking, so the conversation probably wasn't the best, but we'll keep in contact nonetheless.
The highlight of the night was completing one of my dares. Get a mug-shot in Europe. Upon getting back to Sint-Niklaas station, I saw a guy from the Belgian military. I thought "this is better than getting police to take a photo arresting me." After about 5-10mins of convincing, he very happily took me outside and… well… look at the photo yourself. By sheer coincidence, there was an empty bottle of Vodka sitting just outside the door also, so I thought I should use it as a prop too!
Now I sit in my hotel. Breakfast down. I need to pack and hit the road for the long haul home. I don't think this will be the last update, but it's been a pleasure sharing the experience so far. I've got a one hour train to Brussels, then another train to Köln (Cologne) then a high-speed train to München (Munich). I will arrive at 5.40 in the morning for my flight just after lunch.
Looking around the room…. I REALLY need to pack. I'm going to miss this place and can't wait to spend more time in the Flemish region for Belgium.