Breweries in Bruges

While in Bruges I was able to stop by a couple of breweries.

Bourgogne de Flanders

The brewers throughout the ages

Got to try some wort…it wasn’t the best tasting
Brewer talking to us about the beer making process

I already tried their flagship beer before the tour so I didn’t feel like getting a flight so ended up getting lambic to finish my visit.

The second brewery I visited was Halve Maan Brewery (no tour).

For my first beer I tried the Seasonal Wild Ale. It was very good but very strong. I would have gotten another one but I wanted to be able to walk back to the train.

I also tried one of their flagship beers the Blond. It was sessionable at 6% (ok maybe not but it felt like it was).

I ordered some beef stew (local classic) to help soak up the alcohol just before the kitchen closed.

I was done after 2 breweries. Belgium beers are no joke and I don’t have the drinking endurance to try more for the day. It is back to the train for me and back to my quiet Gent.

I am Gruut

While in Ghent I visited the funky brewery called Gruut and lost an hour or two sampling their beers

I liked all the beers I sampled but I really liked the Bruin and the Inferno. The Inferno had good flavor, but watch out since it is 9%!

What was also cool is that the brewer is a female who comes from a long line of brewers. It is good to see women out there making good beer. In addition, her take on using herbs instead of hops is spot on. I’m a fan.

Day in Munich Part 2

We finally make it to the English Gardens (Englischer Garten). I read in the guide book that people surf here. I look for where there could possibly be surfers. My husband doesn’t believe me. I never find the surfers. The park is 3 miles long. We only conquer a portion of it. As we walk past some large meadows we witness people picnicking and playing in the first one. We walk a little futher and we view a very tan man standing at attention with his fists on the sides of his waist. He is totally naked and facing the walkway. I did read it was clothing optional in the park but we were not expecting Sargent Naked Dude (my name for him). He seemed really proud of himself and appeared to be seeking attention. We continue to walk past him.
We soon find the peaceful stream we viewed when we entered the park developed at some point to a lazy river of sorts, only with a faster current. We sit and watch many floating down the river.

After viewing the river fun for a little while we head down to the Chinese Tower beer garden. It is a lively beer garden with lots of food vendors.

We decide to try the Stecherlfisch like the locals.

On our way out of the garden we cool our tired feet in the stream. It refreshes us for the rest of the day.

On our way out of the park we hit another park and find a group playing bocce ball.

After selfie time we walk back to closer to where we are staying the night.

It is a beautiful evening and I am not ready to go back.

I talk Carlos into stopping at the famous Hofbrahaus for one last beer.

It is loud and crowded. Even though the fun band is indoors we decide to try our luck outside since it is hot and steamy inside.

We stand around for a bit but now is not the time to be shy. Full tables don’t just open up. You invite yourself to sit with others. We sat down at a not so lively table. The people at our table are not in a good mood. We soon learn why, service is terrible and very slow. And it seems like the tour group of drunk teens at the table next to us get high class attention while our table is ignored. They finally take our order, but before the others at our table….I feel bad. At least we have the fun stag party to watch while we wait forever for our food and beers.

We also see an example of the beer garden cookie that men are supposed to by for the lady they are sweet on. I did not get one 😦

I am glad I went at least once but not sure I will return to this beer garden. It was too touristy. The music was fun though.

We decide to call it a night. We need to pack our bags to leave for Nuremberg and later the airport.
I wish we budgeted more time in Munich. Vacations are way too short!!!

We are caught on the train! But later Beer.

As I mentioned before I was happy to leave Baden-Baden a day earlier. Besides the bad service it wasn’t a terrible place but there are so many better places to visit. Vacation time is short.
I booked the train tickets late but this time we didn’t have to pay for 1st class. However somehow I was only able to pay for a seat reservation and not the full ticket online. I have no idea how I did that and kept trying to figure out how to buy my ticket online when we already had a reservation. Never figured it out and ended up buying the train tickets at the station the next morning. Our train stops in Mannheim where we switch to another train to Munich. Besides having a hard time finding our car (even after thinking we mastered the system) the trip was pretty uneventful until the end.
After a while I noticed we started making Munich stops so it was time to gather our things. We slow down to the station and Carlos starts to leave with his backpack down the aisle when somehow the belt to his backup that was hanging down got trapped in a seat. He paused to pull it out but it was just stuck. I tried to pull on it a bit and it would not budge. The doors opened for the station and we started to panic. A few others attempted and it was not moving. I decide I need to run to the doors and ask them to hold since we are stuck. I was too late, the doors had shut and there was no opening them. At this point I was OMG we missed our stop (which at the time seemed like a really big deal but in the grand scheme of things probably not). The train started moving and I realize it wasn’t our stop, our stop was actually next. It bought us some time but that belt was not moving no matter what new strategy we imposed on it. Carlos tries to clip it with his nail clippers but it is too tough. Another passenger starts looking through her makeup bag for makeup scissors. She finds a pair. Another guest cuts and Carlos is free, with a slightly broken backpack now. Just in time for Munich Hauptbahnhof (the main train station). After all that drama we exit the train and joyfully walk a couple blocks to our hotel to unload.

Since we waited too long to book our hotels we missed out on some money saving opportunities closer to all the tourist spots. We chose instead to book the well maintained and decorated Arthotel Munich. Arthotel is a art themed economy hotel near the train station. Throughout the hotel there is modern art decor and many doors are painted with pictures of artists and other famous people. We stayed in the Elvis room for our stay. I didn’t love the part of town we were in since it was a little of a walk to the tourists sites but it was clean, friendly and good value for the money we paid.

 

Butt chair

Normally I am very educated on what a city has to offer and make lots of notes on choices of activities while we are there. For Germany I did the bare minimum. I had too many distractions leading up to the trip. When we arrived in our room we started doing a little Rick Steves research in our guide. There were two beer tours we could possibly do that afternoon. Not a lot of preparation needed for that so it was right up our alley. Of the two tours one was strictly a beer one and the other was a beer plus German food tour (BAVARIAN BEER). We decided to take the beer plus food one so maybe we can look like we weren’t lushes that didn’t desire to know anything but beer. Against my better judgement I took the advice in the book about just showing up at the train station to book and the tour was sold out (Bad Rick Steves!). I could have easily booked the tour from the hotel before we left. The guy at the desk tells us that sometimes people do bail out last minute and we could come back before the tour starts and see if they have a last minute spot for us. We still have an hour to wait so we sit on the steps of the train station. We think about trying to make it to the other tour which starts a little further away but we decided to sit and wait. Closer to the time the tour starts there is another couple waiting standby. The odds aren’t good we are going to make it in. Groups slowing trickle in but when it is time to start 4 people still haven’t arrived. The person at the desk lets us in the tour. We pay as the tour guide hands out beers outside the train station and starts giving us some background info for the tour. While we are standing there the missing 4 appear but luckily we get to stay in the tour. That was a close call. Moral of the story if you know you want to take a tour, book it right away. (We did that for the tours scheduled the next day).
The tour starts with a beer and some background info while we are still at the train station.

The tour is an active tour that utilizes public transportation to get around (no huge AC tour buses). We together walk to the metro and take it to our first location the Beer and Oktoberfest Museum

Our guide takes us in for samples and intruduces the different beer styles and tells us about the German Purity Beer Law.

 

Some pretzels to soak up the beer

After our beers our guide took us through the museum where he explained about the history and what some of the symbols were.

Famous beer maid

Next stop was a visit to the HofbrauKeller beer hall where we sampled some German sausages and other goods.

This special sausage is specific to Bavaria and is primarily eaten in the morning. Weisswurst is made from veal and pork and was very good with the sweet mustard we ate with it.

The tour guide also explained the significance of the maypole and how mischievous people steal them and use them to barter for beer parties. Each sign represent what services the town or area provides.

Finially we end up the tour outside the famous Hofbräuhaus. We did not go inside at that point but the tour guide told us about the experience inside and the history of the building.

After the tour it was late and we decided to wander back to the hotel area. After a couple of beers I thought I wanted to stay out a little longer but after getting lost, since it was our first night in the city, we were both exhausted and just tried to find our way back.

Plus we needed rest for a long tour day the next day.

The rhine vineyard hike

The Rhine Vineyard Hike

Or what I like to call it, “when Carlos tricked me into hiking 13 kilometers (8 miles), mostly uphill.”
More on that later.
The Rhine Valley is beautiful and known for its romantic boat cruises.
The Rhine river was an important transportation river for trade and whatnot. Seeing the opportunity, many set up castles and villages along the river to “tax” the boats that would pass by. It all seemed a little robber-baron/extortion like; but with out that happening, none of these cute little villages would have been formed around the castles.
Also prominent in the area is vineyards on steep hills. The grapes are used to make the village wines. We decided to dedicate some time to hiking through the vineyards. The forecast for the day was overcast and rainy. We decided to grab our ponchos and go for it.
Preparing for the hike was kind of hard. The maps we saw at the city center weren’t too helpful.

Map example

Most pick a town and do the circular trails from the town. But we wanted to take a trail from town to town and no maps really mapped that out clearly. We decided to google map it out before we left and determine that the next closest village was 4 km away and determined it was a good distance for me. We also dipped into the tourist office before we left to get some not so helpful maps. Finally we stopped at the grocery store for snacks and water. Due to the expected rain I decided to leave my DSLR back at the hotel.

Not really helpful

We had a hard time finding the start of the trail because there was construction going on around the trail head and an odd donkey path sign. We finally found what we were looking for and started up the stone stairs. We ended up going down the path of the trail that is basically part of the town loop to get to where we wanted to go. We could have started left, the slow glide uphill or right, stairs after stairs after stairs. We started right of course. Not on purpose, at least on my part. At least it gave us a great view of the town from this lookout point.

4 km into the hike, close to the next town, we realized the town we were heading to was not on the train route. If we walked to this town then we would have no idea how we would get back to ours (other than walking back the way we came).

At some point we decided the only way was forward to the next town on the train route – 8 more km away.  All while following the handy red wine trail signs and random chicken signs. I also thought I heard dub-step off in the distance. Skip the hike for mid day dance party? I never did really determine where the music was coming from so we just moved on.

It was lonely since not many others took this trail. And we did have some rain. But the light mist was welcome since it wasn’t enough to make things muddy and kept us cool along the way.

The views were beautiful

Pretty steep vineyards. I later find out they have a machine to help with this.

At some point my bladder wasn’t waiting anymore. There wasn’t much area to go “in the bushes” but no one else is around so I went to some brush. The only time we saw some serious hikers (only 3) it was only minutes after I had my bathroom visit. Whew close call!

So basically the up and down and pure distance of it all was more challenging than I was prepared for. I took many breaks and pushed through but times like in the picture below made me upset that we had to keep going down the mountain just to climb back up. The views were really amazing and I am sure I would have been singing a different tune if I was in better shape.

See that road across the way, we just went down it

Just when I thought I could go no more we reached the road that went down into the town Oberwesel. We walked by a couple where the woman was having a meltdown. Did her husband take her on a 12 km hike and her legs gave out? Who knows, I am just surprised it wasn’t me. I am known to have a meltdown or two when I am exhausted. This time I was good, tired, but good. We almost got tricked to hiking longer when we saw trail signs pointing uphill toward a castle. I send my husband to check it out and indeed it was trickery, the trail took us away from the town we were heading.

When in town we wandered around a bit aimlessly looking for a place to get a meal since we couldn’t handle any more walking around for a little while. After some back and forth we settled on a nice meal at the highly rated Historische Weinwirtschaft. It is located in the oldest half-timbered house of Oberwesel. The decor was very old world romantic. I definitely recommend it for a nicer meal if you are in town.

Fried blood sausage and apple slice on mashed potatoes

Pork loin in chanterelle cream sauce and spaetzle

After our meal (and wine) we stumbled back to the train station and took the short train ride back to our town. One would have thought we would just go back to the room and call it a day but it was still totally daylight out. The long days of Germany (5 am sun rise and 10 pm sunset) definitely threw us off. We decided to have a beer at the local Brauhaus.  Kleines Brauhaus is a beer garden in an old carousel. We had just enough energy to try one or two of their beers then go back to the hotel to pass out.

Creepy mannequins in the lobby of the attached theater. You had to pass by these guys for the bathroom.

Links of Interest

In German all the wine routes:
RheinBurgenWeg Touren

The hike we ended up doing:
https://www.outdooractive.com/en/long-distance-hiking/romantic-rhine/rheinburgenweg-11.-etappe-oberwesel–bacharach-nord-sued-/2807779/

Overview of the region