Friday, August 30, 2013

Laundry in Leuven

August 26th we were feeling the effects of August 25th a little. Specifically beer sampling. The sun rose bright and early but we did not. Eventually we woke up, drank water to alleviate mild headache-like feelings, and realized we had a lot of dirty clothes. We went in search of a laundromat. Not there.

Not there.

Eventually we found one. Roughly where Google said it would be. The instructions were crystal clear despite being largely not English. Laundry machine complexity is traded for operational complexity: first step is to buy tokens; you can't just pay the machine.

If you have a problem with this the solution is clear.

Luckily it worked perfectly for us. During laundry we enjoyed a pizza and a monstrous wrap at a nearby donair type place. It was very good and very hearty, laying a base for beering. So we beered. After a few beer we felt like water and went in search of a market. We found cool dormer windows and a Leffe bar along the way.

And town hall and Arnold and Stallone.

We eventually located a market. The market had, naturally, a brilliant selection of beer.

This inspired us so we chugged water and headed back to the Leffe cafe to sample Royal and Ruby variants. Both are very good. After that we went in search of food. Along the way we realized the detail on some of the old buildings is a bit staggering.

And flags are just cool.

Flemish beer stew is awesome. It can be had with pasta or various potato constructs.

After dinner we wandered about admiring the canals for a bit then stopped for beer at Fiere Margriet, land of 200+ choices. The result of having a different glass for just about every beer is impressive.

Leuvan is awesome.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

To Leuven

August 25th we planned to train from Luxembourg City, Luxembourg to Leuvan, Belgium (some say beer capital of the world!) with a train transfer at Liege.

Farewell, Luxembourg.

The very first thing we saw was slightly off-putting: our first planned train was replaced by bus.

We replanned on the fly to avoid the bus. This turned out to mean going Luxembourg City => Arlon (Belgium), switching trains, going Arlon => Ottignies, switching trains, and going Ottignies => Leuven. Our previous experience with German trains suggested roughly 3 out of 4 were likely to be late so we were slightly concerned. As it turned out everything went flawlessly.

Regional trains are basic but entirely adequate. And even a crappy train is better than an airplane. Stupid airplanes. Perhaps once they were an awesome, even romantic, way to travel but now they are just uncomfortable and annoying. Like cruise ships. But I digress.

As is traditional, the countryside was bucolic.

Upon reaching Leuvan we witnessed a basic bike skills demonstration (there was a sort of show going on), witnessed a sign offering Stella Artois (local to Leuven) for 1.5 EUR, then found a taxi and got to our hotel. It was very nice. A variety of signs were provided, allowing for a fully nuanced request to not be disturbed.

Just outside our hotel was some sort of university area (Leuven is a university town), rich in cobbled streets that are initially surprisingly awkward to navigate in sandals without prior cobble practice. Soon enough it becomes familiar.

Note the irregular nature of the surface.

Old buildings, as is normal in the old world, abound.

The main street seemed quiet; we feared another Luxembourg style curious mass closure might be in effect.

And then we turned a corner, hit the first of several major squares, and found the bustling world of cafes with fine beer menus. Beer that is "fancy" and costs 12 CAD at a bar that shall remain nameless but might rhyme with Starcraft is available for <= 4 EUR and tastes significantly better. Particularly fresher. Probably because it's more fresh.

This is a menu from a street cafe, NOT a bar. Note the Trappist beer for < 4 EUR and that Leffe is available on tap. Leffe is VERY good from the tap.

A man with a strange instrument prowled but didn't seem immediately dangerous.

In addition to cafes and relatively safe seeming street performers there were more old buildings.

At a bar the menu is rather larger than at a cafe, often running well over 100 beers.

Perhaps you don't know how to pour your beer? Or what taste to expect? Or what alcohol % you are looking at (important as double and triple fermented beers at 8-10+% abound). Not to worry, the menu has a large and elaborate section on this.

Also every beer *always* comes in the appropriate glass, which is particularly impressive when you have >100 brews available.

We wound up spending a good bit of time at the bar. In fact, it went and got dark on us. Finding the hotel in the winding cobbled streets in the dark using reduced navigational abilities was mildly challenging. But rewarding. Luckily we spotted a convenient convenience store along the way and acquired a potent anti-hangover remedy (bottled water).

Elephants of Luxembourg City

Around town there were elephants. Apparently from the Elephant Parade.

"Elephant Parade is the world’s largest open air art exhibition of decorated elephant statues that seeks to attract public awareness and support for Asian elephant conservation." (
We took pictures whenever we encountered one. We didn't specifically search but we still saw several.

And that is all.