A 30-minute train ride takes you to the Flemish city of Leuven, home to Stella Artois brewing and it’s parent company InBev. On arrival you can catch the sweet smell of Wert working it’s magic on the young, nubile beer. With brewery in site I walk the five-minute journey to what looks like a small nuclear plant with Stella Artois signage. It is the banner that reads “Brewery Visits” that catches my eye-I follow the arrow. This trip is not getting me excited like other brewery visits. It feels sterile and commercial, as it is. I would say that the Miller Brewery tour has a more friendly feel to it. (The only reason to waste your time on that tour is for the three free beers upon completion.) Upon entering you are directed to a security station left wondering whether you will be able to communicate with the security personnel. I ask, “Are there any tours today?” He responds, “No it is finished and if you wanted a tour you would need a reservation.” So it is not that I have bad luck on this day, it is that those who would wander in from the streets after walking nearly 10-minutes to another of the fabled, stoic beers of the world, are treated as though they are not worthy of entrance to such a place. The everyman fails again. FUCK YOU STELLA! He then proceeds to tell me he may have a spot the following Sunday, as if doing me a grand favor or something. I thank him and leave.
So now for the geography lesson. Belgium: population 11-million. Split linguistically in two. To the north you have Dutch speaking Flanders. To the south French-speaking Wallonia. Basically two different cultures who are fighting for the rights to have Brussels, the EU’s financial capitol. I find the Flemish folk a bit less cultured than that of the Walloon’s. There is no attempt at pleasantries.
Enough of that. So now I am left to wander the city of Leuven, known as a university town I suspect some seedy college bars or at least a semblance of a university atmosphere. There is none. But, I did find the original Pancake House and some really old buildings. All said and done, having consumed the largest Stella I have ever seen whilst wandering a city of little importance, I have to say every new experience is just that, new. Take it for what it is.
Rating this week: One half liter of Stella.
Still to come: Cologne- I wrote too much and all 3 of you have no attention span at all so I have to revise, again.