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January 31st 2011
Published: February 1st 2011
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The BeetleThe BeetleThe Beetle

Paris has Eifel. Leuven has the Beetle.
Well after Wilm and I retired for the night, I had this plan where I would awaken at 7, grab breakfast with the other Hostel patrons, and head out to see the city. Wilm was going to wake me before he went to work and I was going to use the facilities after he was done. However, that plan fell apart when Wilm decided to call an audible and take the day off. I overslept and barely made it out of the room in time. Starving, I hit the streets and came across my first taste of Belgian waffles and yes they are everything they are cracked up to be. Picture a fluffy waffle that you eat like a sandwich with a crunchy sugary shell. You can opt to add chocolate or fruit to the treat but to be fair they really need none.

Now one thing to keep in mind is, while Brussels is predominantly French-speaking, Lueven is in Flanders which is Flemish or Dutch influenced. I was able to cover a lot of ground before I met up with Mike for lunch during which I was able to see Lueven’s grandest piece of art...a giant scarab pierced with a needle which stands tall in the middle of one of their squares...I don’t get it, so I asked a local who responded to me in Dutch...so I still don’t get it. Lunch was good. Sampled multiple Belgian ales and had some fries - or “frites” in French. Belgium is known for eating their “frites” with mayo. I don’t think a single bottle of ketchup exists in the entire county but oddly enough they really didn’t need any.

One really interesting thing that I loved is that every Belgian ale has its own specific glass that is crafted for that brew and that brew only. Each glass is marked with a line indicating the national standard constituting an official glass of beer. After the initial pour the bartender uses a spatula to clear the top of the frosty brew and if the content requirement is met the beer is served. Believe it or not it adds to the experience and makes the beer taste better. Now when you order a Stella at the bar and you get that dainty glass, raise a toast with Leuveneir pride! To enjoy a Stella in any other glass would be uncivilized.

At night we walked into a sports bar and chilled with the locals while a soccer game played. It was an interesting take on sports in Europe but surprisingly very quiet. However, I get the feeling the the Flemish are not very excitable people in general. It was fun but after a few pints and all the cigarette smoke a man can take we were off. Well it is getting late and Paris awaits. As Wilm would say, “See you.”


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