Trip to Leuven

A friend of mine had mentioned a few months ago that she was going to a beer festival.  Now I love beer, so obviously I invited myself along. Before you knew it, other people got wind of the idea and thought it sounded fabulous and should be turned into an overnight group cross-country event.

After what seemed like the longest countdown ever, the weekend of the beer festival finally rolled round.  I was not too keen on the early start mind you.  I would be lying if I said that I did not begrudge getting up at 7am on a saturday morning.  However, I thought it was a small price to pay for a weekend of beer drinking.  For anyone who does not know, Belgium has the best beers ever!

A couple of friends had kindly offered to drive to the train station in Arlon (small town in Belgium by the Luxembourg border), as that meant we could halve the cost of our train ticket.  We got a 10 trip ticket and it worked out as EUR 15.20 per person.  Our train journey was about 2 or so hours.  We had to change trains to get to Leuven, but once you change it’s only half an hour to Leuven. You will know when you’re on the local train, because you will notice the “luxury” is non-existent.

For those who have no idea where Leuven is, it is in the Flanders region (Flemish speaking region) of Belgium.  It is a beautiful little town.

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I was very impressed with the level of English spoken there.  I don’t think I met any local that did not have a good command of the language.  So there’s no need to worry that you won’t be understood if English is your only language.  You’ll be fine, I promise!  The people are also super friendly and will be happy to give you directions if needed.  We got lost on our way to the hotel and a lovely lady came over and asked if we needed help.

Speaking of hotels, if you’re looking for a good one, I recommend the Park Inn by Radisson.  My friend and I paid EUR 111 for a twin room with breakfast.  We could not fault it.  We thought it was of a similar standard to the 4 star Radisson hotel we had stayed at in Sweden.  We were particularly impressed with the breakfast selection.  There was something to suit most needs.

The main purpose of our little weekend jaunt was for the Zythos bierfestival.  So once we were all checked in, we decided we would head there to start our beer tasting.  We figured as there were so many beers (529 to be exact!), an early start would mean we could try as many as possible whilst there.  It was a good thing too because all the beers were so good!

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We decided to maximise the number we tasted by having everyone get a different beer and then we could all have a taste.  I think over the 2 days we went, I bought 14 beers and in total I tried about 50.  I don’t think I tried a beer that was horrible out of any of them.  Even if you weren’t a beer lover, you could probably find something to your taste.  Honestly they had everything!  I tasted cactus beer, coconut beer, mango beer, champagne beer, cookie beer and many more!

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We were only stopping over for one night and after the beer drinking on saturday, we decided to head into town for some food.  My friend knows the town very well. She went to school there and suggested that we should go to the Domus brewery for dinner. It turned out to be a very good recommendation.  The food was superb!

We couldn’t decide on what beer to have, so we decided to order a couple of beer tasters.  Whoever told them to do that is a genius!  You get 3 half pints of beer for EUR 7.50 in a small rack.  We got 3 to share amongst our table.

For dinner we went for the beer menu which came with more beer…..another two half pints!  When they brought those out, we started to think maybe ordering so many tasters was not the best idea, but we powered through and finished them all.

The beer menu consisted of a starter and a main.  As the name suggests, everything had beer as an ingredient.  The starter was mushroom and beer soup.  It sounds odd, but it was pretty good.  The main was beer beef stew and frites.  For those who don’t know what frites are, it is the Belgian name for fries.  From what I gather, fries originated in Belgium.  I believe it, because their fries taste like no other.  I don’t know what they do but whatever it is, I like it a lot!

You’d think all that would have cost a fortune but it worked out to EUR 25 each when we split the bill.  Pretty good value for money if you ask me!

After all the drinking and eating, we decided it was probably time to call it a saturday night to give ourselves some time to recover so we could tackle day 2 of the festival.

I won’t bore you with the details of day 2…..we drank more beer, won a couple of prizes in the raffle and then got our train back to Luxembourg.

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