I wake up and I’m the only person in my room. In fact looks like everyone has checked out so I’ve got the room to myself.
Rare opportunity to have a room to yourself so I take advantage with a long, hot shower.
Grab coffee and a croissant at the art museum. Everyone else orders pizzas. It’s a bit before noon.
I text Andrew and let him know what my plan is to walk to Cantillion, meet there whenever.
This time the walk to the brewery is cool, along the Main Street so I do not pass any mosques but I do pass a carnival being built.
They were going all out too, looked like water rides and the usual tilt-a-whirl, vomit rides.
I correctly order just a glass of Kriek this time and it’s great.
I think the reason I didn’t like sours in US is I have ever had a really good one. The ones at Cantillion were very much like wine with beer qualities. This one had a cherry flavour to it.
Andrew joins me, said he had to buy a suitcase for all his beers.
We split a bottle of brewery only sour and it was good.
Andrew tells me about a beer store in the city we have to stop at later.
‘I have to eat a Belgium waffle. I must eat a waffle while I’m here.’ He says enthusiastically.
We finish the bottle and head to the beer store.
It’s actually near the Delirium Bar, Irish pub I’ve spent most of my time around.
The store is set up with many wooden shelves from the bottom to just above eye level with every size and shape of bottles, glasses and steins.
Andrew clears out a row of beers and tells me this is the one, Westvleteren, consistently rated best beer in the world by beer critics and beer drinkers.
The reason why is clear once you read the beers history: basically it’s made in limited quantities by Abbey monks in 1 place for over a century. It can only be purchased at the Abbey and they limit the quantity 1 person can buy at a time.
I randomly select a couple other beers, a chocolate stout and some other monk made beer, it’s all going to be super rare.
Andrew has 2 large grocery bags of well packed beers to my 3 bottles. Haha
We spy a waffle option and order. Options seem to be chocolate or Nutella then further topped with cream, fruits.
It’s super good and worth the mess. A sweet treat for sure.
On the walk back to the hostel I spy a couple of the guys from the stag party dressed in soccer clothes. They’re on the other side of the street so they don’t see me.
We drop our beers in our rooms and agree to find roast chicken for dinner.
We randomly wander the streets, both of us recall walking past a number of chicken options that are nowhere to be found.
Finally we locate an option, had we merely turned left vs right we’d eaten an hour earlier.
I try to get a whole bird to go but I’m informed he cannot sell me one as it’s too late in the day. I point to the sign reading ‘whole birds to go,’ he shook his head again. ‘Only meals now. Halfs with sides ok.’
Seems he wants to max profits as half a bird with sides costs same as whole with no sides. I get 2 meals as he smiles.
We eat outside and I feed birds my fries.
He recalls that the famous statue Manekonnen Pis is close so we again wander in search, passing by chocolatiers, the final item on his buy list: Belgium chocolate.
The statue is severely underwhelming, what little can be seen is behind thick bars as the little angel baby has been stolen several times.
Andrew checks out candy from a very pretty girl at a very fancy spot. It’s similar to a jewelry store display but with eggs, kisses and bars, all made only with the finest of chocolates.
We pop into a random bar but not before walking down gay street, home to all the city’s gay bars. We are whistled at but they laugh as I overhear, ‘the straights are lost!’
I’m offered a piece of fancy chocolate and its way better than I’m used to eating. Not really sweet either, just silly smooth texture.
We get back to the hostel and Andrew goes to get 2 beers. We drink them at room temp outside on wooden chairs around a wooden spool table. It’s not horrible, but they could have been a bit cooler.
In tow is his newly purchased rolling suit case for his beers. It’s huge, a man could fit inside. He isn’t taking any chances with his Belgium stash.
We are sitting with a couple from Belfast. I tell them my story about the soccer fans I met in France. They hate soccer but laugh at them, ‘seems like a shite time following a shite team.’ One of them, a redhead, says in the thickest accent I’ve heard in my trip.
Oh great here’s a couple of guys from the stag party coming around the corner.
They greet me and join us, the N Irish couple get tense.
Words are exchanged between the Brits and Irish, it seems the redhead Irish guy has a huge anti-English chip on his shoulder.
‘I’m a gay man from Belfast, probably your worst nightmare, eh’ he says.
‘Good on ya. I don’t care, be who you are mate.’ One English guy repeats.
They go back and forth, then the redhead stands and is drug away by his friends.
Why you’d try to start a fight with two big, drunk English guys I have no idea but the Irishman tried indeed.
Once again I’m treated to drunk Englishmen who walk the fine line between annoying and hysterically funny.
One takes drinks from a destroyed water bottle that he somehow managed to bite a small hole in the middle. He can squirt a small stream into his mouth, a trick he repeats to all passing by.
We are soon joined by a female that they showed the trick to. They try to get her to hang and have a beer. She laughs and declines, early flight. They make her laugh enough to sit a moment to tell where’s she’s been, where she’s headed and that she’s a firefighter in Spain.
So the Brits are mostly firefighters, now confirmed.
She seems more intrigued when I tell her my itinerary, which surprised me. I figured firefighters stick together that camaraderie sort of thing.
Again with the squirting water gag. Then one just asks directly, ‘which one of us would you go for, right now?’
She laughs as she walks away. As she enters the hostel, she turns and says, ‘the American, he is nice. And not crude.’
That sets them off as they pat me on the back and make very crude comments about her ample bosom. I suggested that wearing the same uniform likely didn’t help their cause in addition to what they are saying.
They both reveal they are married…back home, not Belgium, which they both agree is a ‘shit county, Brussels is also a bit shit too yeah?’
If all you’ve seen are the insides of pubs, then yeah, maybe you can say that, I say. Get out of pubs and walk this city! Also how drunk are your wives to put up with these chuckleheads??
One takes my advice to heart and staggers off down the road, not to be seen again this night. The other buys me a final beer and also walks off in search of schwarma.
I finish my beer and ponder the amazing disparity of English behavior in country vs outside. Shameless but I suspect the stag outing contributed a lot to their reckless, boorish behaviour.
Beer: Lou Pepe Kriek
Song: Sam Mendes Stitches