Belgium Trip to Brussels, Bruges and Amsterdam

Discussion in 'Europe' started by jazzyjeff13, Apr 24, 2012.

  1. jazzyjeff13

    jazzyjeff13 Nov 6, 2010 United Kingdom (England)

    Hello - I'm going to be leaving on a trip to Belgium/the Netherlands in a few days, and was hoping for some recommendations and advice from the experts on BA :). I know there have been other threads on this subject, but none that cover my intended trajectory completely. My dates of travel are April 26th to May 9th.

    I will be in Brussels to begin with for a couple of days, followed by five days in Bruges and then finishing in Amsterdam for five days. I hope to visit the International Gueuze & Kriek fest when I am in Brussels.

    So, I was wondering about the following possibilities:
    While in Brussels, I thought a trip out to Beersel on Saturday might be a possibility. I know that Drie Fonteinen no longer has tours, but is Oud Beersel an alternative? And if not, is it still a good idea to visit Beersel anyway - is there anything else to do?
    I was also hoping to take a trip out from Bruges to Westvleteren to see the abbey cafe and Struise (I know that I can't go into Westvleteren brewery). Is there easy public transport from Bruges, or perhaps I should rent a bike to get out there? And is Struise a brewery that can be visited, or just a shop to buy their beer?

    I'm also open to suggestions for bars/restaurants/breweries/shops in any of these locations. In Amsterdam I will probably be slightly less focused on beer, but if there is anything that I shouldn't miss then I'm happy to hear about it.

    And if any BAs in these places would like to meet up for a drink or something like that, then shoot me a message. I'm travelling around alone, so arranging something shouldn't be complicated (though please note that I don't have a computer with me).

    Many thanks to everyone ;)
  2. JoeinUccle

    JoeinUccle Aug 7, 2007 Costa Rica

    In Beersel: Armand has closed his tasting café but his brother Guido's restaurant, also called Drie Fonteinen, is open as ever. Definitely worth a visit, with oude lambic and kriek from the cask, by the tumbler or pitcher, and vintage geuze in bottles. Plan for a meal there and you won't regret it. You can always walk around the corner to the brewery and see if anyone's there. Know that the local train doesn't run on weekends but you can still get there, eventually, by tram and bus. But IMO that's very time consuming if you only have a couple of days in Brussels, so you could take a taxi or simply enjoy the lambics at Moeder Lambic or a handful of other places.

    For Westvleteren, you can take something called the Belbus from Poperinge station. It's just a small public bus that must be arranged in advance. The number is 059 56 52 56. Not expensive. Might be best to call the night before.
  3. digita7693

    digita7693 Jan 19, 2010 Germany
    Beer Trader

    I will be in Bruges from the 27th-30th if you are around then. Im playing in an international Ultimate frisbee tourney, but plan on grabbing 1 beer a night and stopping in and seeing Bart at the De Struise shop.

  4. jazzyjeff13

    jazzyjeff13 Nov 6, 2010 United Kingdom (England)

    Cool, thanks for the info. I'll have to think about Beersel - perhaps the effort is not justified if the transport is complicated. It also doesn't look like individuals can usually visit the Oud Beersel brewery either (only once a month). It might be better just to stay in Brussels and enjoy some beers there (I've been to Brussels before - that's why I'm not hanging around to do touristy stuff).
  5. jazzyjeff13

    jazzyjeff13 Nov 6, 2010 United Kingdom (England)

    That sounds like a plan - I will arrive in Bruges on the 29th. So it could be that evening or the next day, if you're still around. Let me know what you think....
  6. beerdweeb

    beerdweeb Nov 28, 2010 California
    Beer Trader

    Oof, Beersel is that difficult to to get to from Brussels? We are both pretty fit, is riding one of those rent-a-bikes out of the question or are the roads safe enough?
  7. JoeinUccle

    JoeinUccle Aug 7, 2007 Costa Rica

    A bike ride is definitely possible; it's a little hilly but the roads are relatively bike-friendly.

    Was just checking and it looks like the line between Uccle and Beersel is shut anyway for construction work. Another route would be the train from Brussels to Halle then Halle to Beersel in about 1 hr 10 min.
  8. UncleJimbo

    UncleJimbo Sep 11, 2002 Massachusetts
    Site Editor Subscriber Beer Trader

    Hmm, is that something new with Oud Beersel? I thought their doors were open to visitors every Saturday.

    Edit: I found this page on their site . It says the Shop is open every Saturday from 9 am til 2 pm, and that you can have a drink there. Maybe you cannot go upstairs and see the "brewery" every Saturday, but it could not hurt to ask them.

  9. jazzyjeff13

    jazzyjeff13 Nov 6, 2010 United Kingdom (England)

    OK, thanks. I will talk to the people where I am staying and see if I can work out a way to visit Beersel.
  10. digita7693

    digita7693 Jan 19, 2010 Germany
    Beer Trader

    Sadly, I will not be making it this weekend:( I am a bit sick, was hoping id be better by today, but probably best to rest for a few more days. Which sadly means I have to miss my tourney in Bruges:(

    have fun!
  11. Brabander

    Brabander Oct 10, 2009 Netherlands

    Get well soon Don!

  12. Ineedabeerhere

    Ineedabeerhere Nov 21, 2007 Massachusetts
    Beer Trader

    Rather than start another thread, I figure I'll ask my question about Bruges here:

    We already planned our trip and will be in Bruges on a Wednesday (May 16). I've already found out that Cambrinus is closed. And so is de bistronoom (short train ride away). I know that the Struise shop is open and we will definitely go there, but any recommendations for a good place for dinner or other spots in Bruges that will be open that day?

  13. Brabander

    Brabander Oct 10, 2009 Netherlands

    You can shoot Yapi a message. He works in the Struise shop and he lives in Brugge!

  14. JoeinUccle

    JoeinUccle Aug 7, 2007 Costa Rica

    It's also a rather long walk from 3 Fonteinen (but a short drive if you have a car). Nice that you can taste the beer, I guess, but you can do that in lots of places. There is something to be said for nice photos of barrels, though.

    A better idea, maybe: Go to Beersel Castle, down the hill from 3 Fonteinen. Have a walk through the castle (which is small but pretty cool IMO, with a moat and drawbridge) then visit Rick's Café, whose terrace faces the castle. It has the Oud Beersel lambics.

    Incidentally, Beersel castle is the image on the Oud Beersel labels.
  15. UncleJimbo

    UncleJimbo Sep 11, 2002 Massachusetts
    Site Editor Subscriber Beer Trader

    True, it is a long walk from the main part of town (up the hill from the train station) to Oud Beersel.
    I have never been to the castle or Rick's Cafe. I will put them on my to-do list. :)
  16. jazzyjeff13

    jazzyjeff13 Nov 6, 2010 United Kingdom (England)

    Hey, sorry to hear you're not well - hope you make a quick recovery. There'll always be another time to meet....
  17. jazzyjeff13

    jazzyjeff13 Nov 6, 2010 United Kingdom (England)

    Hi everyone, thanks for all your replies and advice so far. I've now left Brussels and am currently in Bruges. I didn't try to get out to Beersel in the end - probably just as well as I woke up following the 'Night of the Great Thirst' with a wee headache! I'll have to try another time - I keep finding that some things are hard to get to, so I will probably see if I can take a future trip over here in a car with some friends....
    The lambic fest was really good though, and I also visited Cantillon and picked up some interesting bottles :)
  18. digita7693

    digita7693 Jan 19, 2010 Germany
    Beer Trader

    Make sure to visit Ghent, which I personally like more than Bruges.
    Cantillon is a wonderful place! so, curiosity, what interesting bottles did you get?

    I am much better now, thanks for asking!

    have fun!
  19. jazzyjeff13

    jazzyjeff13 Nov 6, 2010 United Kingdom (England)

    I'm in Amsterdam now, having arrived from Bruges earlier. I didn't go to Ghent, although I've visited previously. I reckon you're right - Ghent has a nicer character with fewer tourists. But I did enjoy imbibing many fine brews in Bruges!

    Cantillon is great - always worth a visit. I got chatting to an American guy I met there and persuaded him to come to the Lambic fest on the Friday (Night of the Great Thirst). As for bottles, I got the three regulars (gueuze, kriek and framboise), along with a bottle of Iris and another of St. Lamvinus. I posted them home in a package - I really hope they survive the trip! I also visited Moeder lambic while in Brussels and was able to try Fou'foune, which they had on tap. Simply incredible stuff.....
  20. beerdweeb

    beerdweeb Nov 28, 2010 California
    Beer Trader

    How much did shipping those 5 bottles cost? And did you pack it yourself or go through a shipper? I haven't seen much for bubble wrap.
  21. jazzyjeff13

    jazzyjeff13 Nov 6, 2010 United Kingdom (England)

    I sent a package that was under 10kg, which cost 15.50 euros to the UK. If you were talking about the states then it would be a lot more (I imagine). There were 9 bottles in it in total - the Iris and St. Lamvinus were 750ml bottles and the other Cantillons were 375mls, then I added in three regular 330ml bottles. The guy at the info desk at the post office was helpful in letting me weight the parcel to check that the weight was OK. I packed everything using stuff I found - which was a bit tricky. I got a box from the place I was staying and then found some plastic wrap from a store and some newspapers and extra cardboard. Put it all together and sent it, but with hindsight it wasn't ideal - if I'd thought ahead I could have put bubble wrap and tape in my bag to bring with me and avoid searching for materials (just avoid the stress)!
    I'm still away, so it remains to be seen whether the parcel survives or not. I'll be gutted if it doesn't.....
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