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1999 Gent

Travellers

Paul, Ray, Frank and Terry.

Objective

Visit Zottegem beer festivale

Keywords

Flandria, Trollekelder, Dulle Griet, Waterhuis aan de Bierkant, Liefmans Kriek, Vondel, Dreupelkot, Brouwerji Crombe, The Bicycle Bar, The Ugly Bar,

Comments

One of Belgium’s smaller beer festivals- the Bles Bierhappening - is held in Zottegem, a small town 20kms south of Gent. With the event limited to the Saturday we decided to stay in Gent.

Friday

Travel was by train, Eurostar to Brussels and intercity onward to Gent Sint-Pieters, followed by tram into the centre and a short walk to our hotel- Flandria (Barrestraat 3). Although we had pre-booked through the Belgium Tourist Office the hotel had no record and was full! Presentation of the fax booking confirmation was of little help, but the manager did his best and offered us two windowless double-bedded rooms in the basement. We took them.

Time to hit the bars and first up was Trollekelder (Bij St. Jacobs 17). Apart from the rather off-putting window display of Trolls, the bar was very good and offered a good choice of beers including three or four on draught.

Next came Dulle Griet (Vrijdagmarkt 50) situated on the largest square in the old town. An initial frosty reception mellowed once we proved not to be tourists only after a single beer but true connoisseurs ready to try a few of the draughts on offer.

Our favourite bar turned out to be Waterhuis aan de Bierkant (Groentenmarkt 9) on the bank of the river Leie. Two storied, the downstairs bar provided the widest draught choice in Gent, including Liefmans Kriek and, Frank’s favourite, Vondel (Riva), a 8.5% sweet chestnut ale.

If you tire of beer, try the Dreupelkot, next door to the Waterhuis. This small one room café may only sell genever, but the drink does come in many different flavours and strengths. If you are unsure whether you will like the stuff, ask for a boy’s drink.

After we tried a disco bar somewhere along Graslie, it was back to the Waterhuis for some Jazz from a Dutch band before returning to the black holes called rooms.

Saturday

The hotel emptied after breakfast (including the Dutch jazz band) and the manager promised to move us into more comfortable rooms whilst we were out.

Fortunately, on the short train journey to Zottegem we meet a young woman who was prepared to lead us to the Brouwerji Crombe (Hospitaalstraat 10). Some sort of group visit was going on. Undeterred by the less than enthusiastic welcome, we did manage to get one of their unusual but highly respected ales. Only problem is- can’t remember which one!

After lunch and, for Ray, some favourable arithmetic, we headed out to the bierhappening. Held in Bevegemse Vijvers sports centre, there were some 17 brewers present and around 42 beers to choose from. The list of those tried is attached. The tombola, with some excellent prizes, kept us entertained and we had an enjoyable afternoon at this friendly festival.

On our return to Gent, the manager had been true to his word and we had been rehoused in much better rooms- en suite showers and toilets, they even had windows.

Dinner was followed by a visit to a rather unusual bar. With no apparent name, everyone referred to it as The Bicycle Bar (Kalversteeg), of which there were numerous examples all over the place, along with a tremendous amount of other junk. No till and no discernible record of consumption, the owner guessed the bill on exit and found Ray quite up to the task of arriving at a fair price. No exotic beers to chose from but worth going to for the experience.

The Waterhuis beckoned, as did the sailor home from the sea and a quick trip round the red light district. Home to bed.

Sunday

Gent is a very pretty city and we spent the morning sightseeing around the centre. The cathedral is particularly impressive, as are the buildings along the waterfront by the Graslei.

Lunchtime found us in the Waterhuis checking out where we could watch the England-Belgium game. We were recommended a bar the other side of the Coupure, somewhere around Bijlokevest. Finding the obligatory Irish bar on the way we enjoyed a beer to sustain us on our journey.

Not a particularly good game, with England lucky to win 2-1 with a late Rednapp goal. The Belgium supporters we made friends with suggested a bar we should try. They did not know its name, referring to it as ‘The Ugly Bar’ but showed us the location on our map- somewhere near the junction of Hoogstraat and Holstraat. Just on our way, the three Belgium lads caught us up and offered a lift. Eight in a brand new Volvo S70 was quite a squeeze but we managed to get there. The name given to the bar was somewhat of a misnomer - what is so ugly about drinking in a 1960’s front room? Although somewhat unusual décor for a bar, it had a very friendly atmosphere and we spent an enjoyable few hours there before wandering back to the centre and our favourite bars, ending up at the Waterhuis.

Monday

A virtually alcohol free day spent travelling home.

Created on 01/22/2006 03:50 PM by drinking
Updated on 01/22/2006 03:55 PM by drinking
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