Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Poperinge, Belgium

Tourism...there is gambling tourism, hunting tourism, surfing tourism, shopping tourism, sex tourism...but you might often find us riding bikes and sipping some of Belgium's local hop and barley water. Poperinge is Belgium's main hop region with some notable breweries tucked away in this corner of the country. More Belgium postings coming soon...

Often noted as the holy gail of beer; the Westvleteren 12 (dark one) is one of the most sought after beers in the world. It is made by the monks of The abbey of Saint Sixtus of Westvleteren. Until recently (due to the financial needs of the abbey, there was a limited release in the states) it has been only available one place. It was a 10 km round-trip ride into the wind in 5 degree (celsius) weather. Another item off the bucket list.  
The brew at the abbey was tasty but the salad, cheese, and ham was a hand-to-hand combat fight.  Ana noted that eating had never been so difficult. Go there and try to manage the foods and you'll know what we mean. 
For monks only!
This was the path/road there. 
Ever been stared down by an owl. Another item off my bucket list. 
Hop farm. 
A nice little touch on the sidewalks of Poperinge.
Town center-the very cool and helpful people at the tourist information place helped us with storing our luggage and told us how to bike to beer and WWI firing squad areas. All quiet on the western front. 
Riding backwards!
Tomorrow's breakfast!
Hopelandia...Poperinge boasts a hop museum. Rub hops all over you and have the town drunk follow you home. 
The museum was located in the former hop municipal scales building where hops were weighed, inspected, and stacked (aka city scale).
Scissors and knives, my kind of ride.
Former manure laying cart. I can imagine how the driver must have smelled after work. Most likely single. 
At the end of the hop harvest, the hop man was built and burned. The farmer pored drinks, provided the music and I bet even the manure driver got action that evening!
I dared myself to try the HOPsaKEI, couldn't do it. One sip and I passed it over to the lady at the next table who must have thought she won the lottery. 
Close to where we are staying.
The nun beer...wished I had none. 
Where we are staying. The St Bernardus in Watou brewery/hop field has a guest house, they gave us bike to explore...26 plus km today not too bad. 
At the guest the fridge. 
Stop and make a prayer for a good hop season...I did. 

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