Friday, November 21, 2014

DAILY ITINERARY: Belgium Multisport & Beer

DAY 1 >> BRUSSELS: Welcome to Belgium! Our adventure starts at 1:00 PM, allowing you to arrive in Brussels this morning or the day before (which we highly recommend). This afternoon we will walk from our hotel around the beautiful city of Brussels, visiting ancient sites including Europe’s most impressive plaza, The Grand Place. We’ll taste arguably the world’s best chocolate along with Belgian beer at Laurent Gerbaud. From there we will walk to have a conversation, craft beers and craft cheeses with our friend Jean Hummler at Moeder Lambic. This evening we’ll enjoy Belgium’s typical food specialties and beer cuisine at Restobières not far from The Grand Place. After dinner, we’ll stop into some of Brussels famous beer cafes, one of which has 3000 beers from which to choose!
DAY 2 >> CANTILLON, ORVAL & THE VILLAGE OF BOULLION: Today we start with a private tour and tasting of the world famous Brasserie Cantillon. Cantillon uses natural yeasts that are present in the air around us for fermentation. The tour and our tour guide are both one of the best we have experienced anywhere. Afterwards we will travel to southwestern Belgium, a special region known as Wallonia. Here we will have a nice lunch at Le Chameleux, a small café seemingly in the middle of nowhere serving local foods and beverages. After lunch we will hike the Grande Randonnée path along a creek through deciduous forests to Abbaye Orval. Here will explore the impressive grounds on our own and then meet in the Orval L’ange gardien. This is the only place in the world with Orval on tap. Santi!  From Orval we will travel to the historic town of Boullion and our accommodation, Hotel Cosy, on the bluff overlooking town. The owner of the hotel, Wouter Liekens, is also a renowned chef and tonight he’ll prepare a special four-course Beer Degustation just for us.  
DAY 3 >> THE RIVER SEMOIS & THE CITY OF DINANT: Today we prioritize adventure! Depending on the weather we may kayak and canoe or we may hike. Both options are excellent. Our river trip starts in Boullion and from here we paddle downriver on the River Semois. The paddling is easy and no experience is necessary. The river is rarely deeper than your waist and the water moves slowly through green hillsides. Our hike starts from the hotel and takes us up high on the bluffs above the river past Abbayes and through rolling pastureland.  Tonight we’ll spend the evening high on the banks of the River Meuse in an old convent now known as La Merveilleuse. You will have some free time to explore this scenic village and the towering Citadelle de Dinant before returning to the convent for a casual beer tasting at the Leffe Beer Museum (Maison Leffe) and a beer and food pairing dinner. 
DAY 4 >> GOZEE, ABBAYE D’AULNE & THE CITY OF BRUGE:  After breakfast we travel north to the historic riverside town of Erquillines to visit with and tour a small local brewing club’s brewery on the French border, Brasserie Brootcorrens. From here we ride bikes along the Sambre River on perfect paved trails through the historic village of Thuin and on to the village of Gozee. In Gozee, we will enjoy lunch at one of our favorite riverside cafes and then tour and taste Belgian Abbaye Beers at La Brasserie Du Val De Sambre.  We then travel north to the city of Bruge. Bruge is a wonderful city with lots of history, impressive architecture, good food, culture and beer cafes. Before, or after dinner, we’ll stop into Brugs Beertje to say hello to Daisy, the owner, and maybe taste some of her 300+ Belgian Beers. 
DAY 5 >> HOPPELAND, WESTVLETREN & THE CITY OF GHENT:  Once again we hop on bikes and explore the Hoppeland region between Poperinge and Vleteren. We’ll stop for lunch in the village of Watour at the Hommelhof, widely known for its dishes based on heavenly brews. Then we will bike onward on bike paths that take us through fields of wheat, barley and hops before we visit the St. Sixtus Abbey, producer of world-famous Westvletren Belgian-style beers. This is one of the only places in the world you can buy these highly sought-after brews. After our ride we will travel to one of our favorite cities in all of Europe, Ghent, where we will spend our final two evenings of the adventure. 
DAY 6 >> THE RIVER SCHELT, CHAMPAGNE-STYLE BEERS & THE CITY OF GHENT: Our ride today is again on seemingly perfect bike trails along the River Scheldt. We just love exploring these trails and seeing people of all ages and walks of life using the trails for recreation and necessary transportation. Our ride takes advantage of a series of ferries that take riders back and forth across the impressive river. Today’s lunch is en route, with several nice riverside cafes to choose from.  After our ride it’s time for Champagne! Champagne beer that is. We will visit and taste with our friends at Bosteels Deus Landtsheer Malheur, known for their traditional Champagne-style beers. This afternoon we will return to Ghent where you will have some time on your own to explore the city and perhaps do some shopping. You are welcome to visit and taste a local brewery, Gruut. Their beers are unique because they use special spices (gruit) instead of hops to flavor and preserve their beers. We will meet for our farewell dinner this evening near the Ghent’s city center, only a few blocks from our hotel. 
DAY 7 >> GHENT: On our final morning we’ll have breakfast in the hotel and then take an historical walk of the city of Brugge with one of our guides (or perhaps you still have some last-minute shopping to accomplish?)  We leave for Brussels at 10 AM and you’ll be at Brussels main train station by Noon. From here it is 20 minutes to the airport or perhaps you’ll want to catch a high-speed train to Paris, London or Amsterdam!   
#zephyradventures #hotelcosy #belgianbeertrip

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