I sprang to life early on the morning of my 10th day, despite having drank Belgian beers long into the night. This was a day I had planned much of the trip around. It was time to cross an item off my bucket list.
I’d planned to bike the 6km to The Abbey of Saint Sixtus of Westvleteren, where one of the world’s highest rated (and most elusive) beers, Westvleteren 12, was brewed and served in the adjacent cafe, In de Vrede.
The bike ride out was perfect, flat and next to hop trestles. The route was also easy to navigate, which was one of my biggest concerns when leaving Poperinge.
The weather for the bike ride was also perfect. By the time I’d made it to the small hamlet of Westvleteren, I was so excited I could barely contain it.
The experience, and the beers were both exceptional. I had a nice long lunch and got to try each of the monastery’s three beers. (Read more about the visit in the In de Vrede, Westvleteren post.)
The ride back to Poperinge was gorgeous on such a beautiful day. About a kilometer outside the city, the chain on my rental bike broke, but not even that wasn’t going to spoil my mood on this day.
I had a mid-afternoon train to catch back to Brussels, but I had one more stop to make in Poperinge before heading out, The Hopmuseum.
The best feature of the Hopmuseum was the audio guide. It was a small, hand held device that gives an English audio description when the number on each display is typed in.
The Hopmuseum was as good as I’d heard- an absolute must visit for those beer pilgrims visiting the area because of the Westvleteren beers.
My time is Belgium was winding down. It was, once again, time to move on to a new country, Germany. I caught a late afternoon train back to Brussels, passing by the World War I cemeteries that dotted the landscape.
I’d had a great 2 1/2 days in Belgium, but, as my train sped toward Germany, I looked at a map of the country in the train car I was in and knew I’d need to return to explore more of this fascinating country. And, of course, to try more of it’s beer.