Belgium Amsterdam/ Belgium/Lux/Paris(?) trip in March

Discussion in 'Europe' started by DoctorRock, Aug 7, 2013.

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  1. DoctorRock

    DoctorRock Initiate (115) May 13, 2010 Minnesota
    Beer Trader

    Hey everyone! My wife and I are in the very beginning stages of setting up a trip and I know this group is a wealth of knowledge, so I'm coming to you all before going further.

    My wife wants to do this trip for me, meaning the kids are staying at home and a beercentric trip is encouraged.

    I've scoured the forum and there is great information given, but want to know from you how you would spend your time around the areas listed. We're thinking 10-14 days is what we're working with. Cantillon & 3F are a must, of course, but would like other suggestions for food, beer, historic sites and travel (not renting a car).

    If you prefer to shoot me a BM that would be great.

    Thanks in advance and can't wait to start laying the groundwork for what's sure to be an awesome trip!

  2. trevorjk

    trevorjk Initiate (0) Aug 28, 2009 Netherlands
    Beer Trader

    In Holland, no car is needed. In Belgium, if you plan on hitting all the best places for a beer (IE: De Struise, Westvleteren, De Dolle) you will want a car. No idea about France
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  3. shnsajax

    shnsajax Disciple (360) Jul 2, 2013 Idaho
    Beer Trader

    As I recommend to everyone else. Stay at the St. Bernardus B&B for a couple of nights, you and your wife will love it. From there you can hit up Wesvleteren as well.
  4. ManforallSaisons

    ManforallSaisons Disciple (386) Mar 20, 2008 Belgium

    If you're def'ly averse to renting a car, you can have a great trip in Belgium without it. It's not strictly necessary unless you want to do a lot of buying or avidly want to visit breweries. Plenty of places you can get to where you can try pretty much everything. For example De Dolle is a fun visit with a fine tasting room but you can console yourself with their products elsewhere. 3F can be done with a weekday train plus taxi (if the restaurant is the point, not just the beer). Cantillon is on the metro. I'm just saying that because you said you're not renting a car. If it's just a matter of being wary of driving here, it's not that hard to get around an cope with quirky traffic rules like "priority to the right." If it's more like not wanting the bother/expense, it could be worth reconsidering, if you are going to spend more than 4-5 days in country, just to get out of the cities and pick more out-of-the-way places.
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  5. DoctorRock

    DoctorRock Initiate (115) May 13, 2010 Minnesota
    Beer Trader

    Okay guys and gals - starting to put more stuff together for our itinerary thanks to some private messages and searching the forums. The notes next to each place are just what I have taken from looking at websites for my own reference. Any comments are not mine and could be "off" compared to your own experiences. haha So don't kill me if they are different than your opinion, but please DO give an opinion on anything.

    How does it look? I do want to fit in St Bernardus B&B somewhere....thoughts on where?

    Oh - and any hotel rec's would be great in these cities.

    Thanks everyone!!

    Amsterdam: Saturday 3/15 - Monday 3/17
    Non Beer:
    - Ann Frank House (open 9am - 9pm tix online)
    - Rembrandt House (open 10am-6pm)
    - Van Gogh Museum (open 9am - 5pm)
    - Brouwerij 't IJ *brewery w/ windmill (English tours Sat & Sun at 3:30pm)
    - De Bekeerde Suster *small brewery (open at 11am daily)
    - In de Wildeman *classic Amsterdam beer bar (open at Noon daily)
    - Arendsnest *mostly local brews

    Brussels: Monday 3/17 - Thursday 3/20
    Non Beer:
    - Grand Place
    - Cantillon *enough said (open 9-5pm except Sundays)
    - Moeder Lambik *great beer selection, 2 locations one near Cantillon (open 4pm daily)
    - Restobieres (?)
    - In 't Spinnekopke *beer and food
    - Les Brassins *locals place, make reservations early in the day for dinner (open noon - midnight, no credit cards)
    - La Bécasse *off the beaten path but near Grand Place (open 11am - midnight)
    - Le Bier Circus *friend rec. best food (Tues - Friday 11am - 11pm and Saturday 6pm - 11pm)
    - de Heeren *insane beer list, pricey (outside Brussels & random hours?)

    Antwerp: Day trip from Brussels
    - Kulminator *opens late afternoon, amazing beer selection
    - t'Antwaerps Bierhuiske *cheaper than Kulminator(?) and AS good(?)
    - Gollem – lots of beers on tap and food
    - n 't Oud Arsenaal *dive bar with Belgian charm

    Ghent: Thursday 3/20 - Monday 3/24
    -Open - Totally free to explore museums, cathedrals etc…

    Bruge: Day Trip from Ghent
    Non Beer:
    - Christs Blood
    - Canals
    - De Struise Brouwers Bruges Beer Shop (should be open during most days)
    - Staminee De Garre *old and out of the way beer spot (Closed Monday & Wednesday open at Noon)
    - Comptoir Des Arts *close to Market Square and Bell Tower (open Wednesday - Sunday at 6pm - blues and jazz bar with lots of taps)
    - t' Brugs Beertje*small taplist, but cool and tucked away albeit just outside main city center (open at 4pm and closed on Wednesdays)
    - De Halve Maan *brewery (tours from 11am - 3pm every hour)
    - Cafe Rose Red
    - Cambrinus *meat and potatoes and decent beer

    Paris: Monday 3/24 - Friday
    Non Beer:
    - Typical Paris stuff...
    - La Cave a Bulles
  6. shnsajax

    shnsajax Disciple (360) Jul 2, 2013 Idaho
    Beer Trader

    In Amsterdam, stop by the Beirkoning too!
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  7. trevorjk

    trevorjk Initiate (0) Aug 28, 2009 Netherlands
    Beer Trader

    In Holland, i suggest also making a trip to Bodegraven to go to De Molen.
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  8. DoctorRock

    DoctorRock Initiate (115) May 13, 2010 Minnesota
    Beer Trader

    Any suggestions on places to stay in Amsterdam, Brussels, Ghent or Paris?

    I'd also like to hook up with anyone local to these areas for a beer or 2, but we can talk closer to the dates :slight_smile:
  9. Mista

    Mista Aspirant (201) Nov 10, 2011 Minnesota
    Beer Trader

    Amsterdam = Heineken tour :stuck_out_tongue:
  10. shnsajax

    shnsajax Disciple (360) Jul 2, 2013 Idaho
    Beer Trader

    Actually a very well done tour.

    I'm not sure where you can fit in St. Bernardus. We actually stayed there on the way to Paris from Amsterdam. Its a slight train detour, but fun experiance. You can get to Poperidge from Brussels .
  11. ManforallSaisons

    ManforallSaisons Disciple (386) Mar 20, 2008 Belgium

    Brussels non-beer: from Grand' Place environs it's a pleasant stroll through the Sablon and Marolles areas for cafe hopping and window shopping (plus Restobieres and some other good places). Pity to miss the Marolles for the weekend flea market (more social than bargain-hunting) but ah well. Throw La Fleur on Papier Doree (sorry for no accent marks) and La Porte Noire on your bar list for your comings/goings around there. (BTW, I keep mentioning the center city because that's where most of the hotels are, some of the best museums, and lots of the bars on your list.) Another good route from the GP area: check out the Halles St. Gery, then down rue Dansaert, scoping the local fashion boutiques as you go, to the St. Catherine area for fine dining and some very passable drinking options. A few blocks further you can find real Moroccan tea houses, in extremely non-touristy surroundings (you may see some patronized only by Moroccan men).

    In some other thoughts keyed off your drinking list, while around Les Brassins you can check out the Matonge quarter, a bit of Kinshasha transplanted so thoroughly in Brussels that people running for office in Congo campaign there. Wednesday evening, check the scene around the weekly food market on Place du Chatelain, with the expats, euocrats and bourgeoisie of Brussels spilling out of the bars. A good afternoon in that area would be the Horta Museum for Arts Nouveau architecture -- worth it even for the uninitiated, and very Brussels, and they'll give you a map for walking tours of other neighborhood landmarks. That area generally is the best for dining in town, albeit not the most traditional belge. We're missing a destination beer bar hereabouts (this is my 'hood so even if we had one I'd probably guard its secrets) but everywhere has a dozen or two brews. It's also walkable to/from Moeder Lambic St. Gilles. Which BTW is quite close to another nice albeit smaller market scene in front of its town hall (each district has its own) on Monday nights. You can tour that rather grand town hall but I'm not sure if they have guides in English. Le Bier Circus is in the Belgian equivalent of Capitol Hill, with the requisite ornate buildings. I'm not sure if you can tour the parliament, or should bother if so. It's enough to have interesting stuff to see to/from Bier Circus. A bit past that neighborhood, past the botanical garden, is another flavor of Brussels as it's lived today. Don't ruin your appetite for BC but on Chaussee de Haecht is a strip of Turkish pizza places and pastry shop/cafes, like a back street in a working-class area of Istanbul (albeit the locals are mainly from elsewhere in Turkey -- which come to think makes it even MORE like some working-class parts of Istanbul).

    I'm not sure if you were asking a question about De Heeren van Liedekercke, but it's a good half hour drive from Brussels, probably a bit more by train (I'm not quite sure). Well worth an hour round-trip. If you don't have a car and other transport actually isn't working for you, well, you have other options.

    Just noting some other stuff about your (good) bar list. I'm not sure I'd describe either of the Moeder Lambics as immediately near Cantillon, I suppose walkable but you may opt for the metro, not something that has to be logistically paired... Just in case you were worried about finding A la Becasse, I'd call it smack dab in the middle of beaten path, maybe a bit easy to overlook, but easy to find if you're looking for it (you'll find descriptions elsewhere)... the Brugs Beertje comment reminds me to say don't be put off by places without lots of taps, it's not a draft culture, considering that the classic products -- strong ales and gueuzes -- are bottle-conditioned... Restobieres should def'ly be on the list, on par with Bier Circus for food and nicer atmosphere, less selection but well chosen... Spinnekopke is still OK for food but its laurels must be worn out for having been rested on for some years. On a recent return I was glad to see an attractive beer list, but lots of oops-we-don't-have-thats...

    Gent non-beer: make the pilgrimage to the Van Eyck painting of the mystic lamb in the cathedral, which also has Rubens worth gawking at, but even if you don't care about art the lamb must be beheld.

    For Paris beer, BTW, if you need a second place, dig SuperCoin, a couple metro stops from Gare du Nord for a good selection of micros -- all French -- and vibe more like a hipster watering hole than beer-hunting spot.
  12. DoctorRock

    DoctorRock Initiate (115) May 13, 2010 Minnesota
    Beer Trader

    Wow! Really appreciate the time you took to reply! I'll comb through this and add as necessary and follow up with any other questions. Again, many thanks!
  13. Heretic42

    Heretic42 Devotee (411) Aug 31, 2011 Texas
    Beer Trader

    For beer in Paris, I'd also recommend Brewberry. It's very cozy and friendly with a reasonably nice bottle selection.

    I'll also second ManforallSaisons' recommendation for 3F and add Oud Beersel which is not far from 3F. You don't technically need a car (I took the train and bus), but I'd definitely recommend one. 3F's restaurant is great and you'll get to try the different takes on the lambic style by visiting those two breweries.
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