Today we headed to the Abbaye Notre-Dame de Scourmont near Chimay (This is where they make Chimay beer). The brothers were there waiting for us and gave us the VIP tour, including their secret cellar of old vintages. A 15 year old Grand Reserve was sampled and declared the best beer ever.
We then traveled to the Beersel City festival on the invitation of the Hanson's brewery, where they stopped the show to honor the 3 Americans and let us taste every beer in the place. Doug was even interviewed on TV.
We traveled to Brussels, again without getting lost, and we're greeted with a shining sun, a good parking place and plenty of time to eat, drink and be merry. When we eventually boarded the overnight train to Luzern, Switzerland, they didn't have our beds ready so they upgraded us to first class for free. What an incredible day!
(Please note: The above was written by Doug in a state of stressed out delirium)
Just in case you didn't figure it out, none of the above is true. We had a downright bad day. The highlight of it was getting to sleep in at the lovely Hotel t'Westkanterhof. We stayed in a wonderful chateau there and highly recommend it to anyone.
Upon reflection, maybe we should have stayed in bed.
Yes, of course we got lost. We even made it into France when looking for the Abbaye Notre-Dame de Scourmont.
No, we didn't see any monks, nor did we see their brew facility. They have lovely grounds and a great cemetery. It was so quiet that you could pick out the sounds of 3 distinct flies in the chapel. Needless to say, we didn't, and still don't have much to say about it. We bought a book, but it's in the same language that all the road signs are in, so I don't think we will get much out of it.
We got lost - again - on our way to the Beersel Festival. When we arrived, the people at the Hanson's booth were very busy, so we didn't get to talk with them for long, and it was hard to understand them with all the techno-pop music in the background. The boys did try some beer and we toured a neat old castle, which would have been condemned in the U.S. because it was unsafe. It's only opened during this festival for that same reason.
We then headed back to Brussels figuring to catch the sights before we caught our train to Luzern. Guess what? We got lost - again. So, we didn't see all that we wanted to. Once we found a place to park, most of the sites were closed. We set out on foot and (Okay, everybody now) got lost. It started to rain shortly after we found the Grand Place. We walked from awning to awning trying to stay dry and came upon the Maniquin Pis. For those that don't know, it's a statue of a little boy peeing. Yes, all the tour books and everyone we've ever talked to said, "skip it, it's worthless." They are all 100% correct. The souvenirs you can buy are more impressive than the actual thing. I see a man peeing every morning of my life. It's not a wonderful thing to look at. And by the way, the Pis is left handed.
Disappointed, tired and wet, we got a bite to eat and headed for the train station. This time we were early. 2 hours early. We didn't want to take the chance of getting lost again and running for a train. So we sat in the train station, wrote and read, and at 11:00 boarded our sleeper train for Luzern Switzerland.
New day, New country. It's going to be better.
Things we learned from Belgium
Beer is good
Beer is cheaper than water
Star Trek Universal translators don't work when asking directions.
Never leave the city without a native.
You have to drive to get anywhere
The cows are happier here
We've still never heard of a good Belgian cartographer.
Brussels has an obsession with men's private parts.
This is probably the most beautiful country, overall, that we've seen (and we've seen a lot of it!)