Bolleke en Pintje

We booked our tickets to Belgium on December 11. A little over a month later, I found out I was pregnant. Let’s all observe a moment of silence for all of the amazing beers I didn’t get to drink while in the home of the best beers in the world – and of the best beer bar in the world!

There is absolutely nothing uncontroversial about alcohol and pregnancy, but after a lot of reading and discussion, we agreed that we both felt safe with me having ::a:: drink here and there on our trip. I tried whatever sips of whatever N was drinking, but limited myself to a few local specialties enjoyed after a solid meal over the weeks of our visit. I also developed a taste for good tonic water, and discovered a few places with wonderful mocktails.

De Muze

Sampling a bolleke of De Koninck at De Muze, one of N’s favorite jazz bars. We left before the jazz started, but made a second visit for drinks and music during our second week.

De Muze

De Muze

De Vagant

Trying genever at De Vagant. Not pictured: the GIANT MOUNTAIN of cheese cubes that we ordered thinking we’d have a little snack.

Nine Cocktailbar

Nine Cocktailbar

Nine Cocktailbar

A virgin shrub for me, and an amazing ginger something for N

Nine Cocktailbar

Kulminator

Kulminator

Kulminator

Kulminator Beer List

Now THIS is a beer list – a giant binder organized by style and by brewery, hand annotated in places. Some of the beers on the list weren’t available anywhere else, period.

La Trappe Quercus 2011 Batch 7

La Trappe Quercus 2011 Batch 7

La Trappe Quercus 2011 Batch 7, literally only available at Kulminator

Kulminator

Oh this? Just several cases of Westy empties.

Onder de Schelde

Riverside, golden hour

There are no bridges passing over the Scheldt in downtown Antwerp – instead, pedestrians, cyclists, and (presumably) vehicles pass through tunnels under the river. We took a particularly terrifying old wooden escalator down to this pedestrian tunnel just to say that we did.

Under the Scheldt

Under the Scheldt

Under the Scheldt

Under the Scheldt

Fietsers Afstappen!!!

Belgium, part 1 of many

It’s been three months since we got home from Belgium, and I’m just now starting to get through the hundreds of photos we took in our two weeks there. It’s strange to page through my Flickr¬†and see day-to-day Instagram shots of the beginning of summer interspersed with photos from oh-so-cold weather and the early days of my pregnancy. Oh well – better late than never!

My first impressions of Belgium were colored by severe lack of sleep and motion sickness from our flight from Istanbul. Can I tell you how stressful it is to meet one’s partner’s family on 2 hours of sleep, having thrown up in the airport? You’ll excuse the exhaustion in my face in most of these photos.

On our first day, we didn’t manage much other than the train from Brussels to Antwerp, the tram from Antwerp to Deurne, a long nap, and a walk around Rivierenhof, a beautiful park minutes from where N** grew up. The park includes a lagoon, a terrace full of afternoon beer-drinkers, a fairy tale house (pictured below), a rose garden, and lots of wandering paths for strolling and walking.

Fairy tale house at Rivierenhof

After the first extremely tired day, our visit fell into a comfortable routine. Most mornings we would sleep until 9 or 10, and would wake to N’s mom returning from the bakery with fresh pistolets or other pastries (or bread from a vending machine!!). We would share a breakfast of pistolets, cheeses and meats, kefir with fruit and nuts, coffee, and juice before getting ready to head into the city. I only had the energy for one or two adventures per day, but then most places close by 6pm, so we would take in a few sites with a late afternoon stop for a second coffee, Speculaas, and pastries. In the evening, we would either have dinner in the city or head back out to Deurne for a quiet evening in.

Cathedral of Our Lady
The Cathedral of Our Lady, the dramatic and beautiful centerpiece of Antwerp

Vlaeykensgang
Vlaeykensgang, an alley dating to the 1590s

Via Brabantica
Imagine my surprise as we kept coming across wayfinding devices for the Camino! Apparently Antwerp (and also Bruges) sit on the Via Brabantica. Perhaps we’ll walk it one day.

Riverside, golden hour

Antwerp
Sunset over the Scheldt

**You may have noticed that there aren’t many photos of N on this site. It is his preference to keep much of his life offline, and I’ve tried to respect that here. I hope to include a few photos of him in this series of posts, but will for the most part be sharing photos of the city, our adventures, or photos he took of me.