Living in Europe is magical because everything is so close together. Hopping in a car for a few hours can take you across borders. Ana Clara and I recently decided to tempt our honies into a weekend getaway to a Christmas beer festival in Essen. No, not in Germany, in Essen, Belgium. And no, I hadn’t heard of the town either beforehand, which made the adventure that much more fun.
Essen is located right on the border of Holland and Belgium. Literally. For this jolly occasion, our hotel was actually in Roosendaal, Holland, whereas the festival was in Essen, Belgium. I must say that driving back and forth passing the radiant blue EU sign with the country surrounded by a circle of stars was pretty invigorating.
The Kerstbierfestival is an annual Christmas beer festival in Belgium. The festival had 180+ beers in bottles and on tap to try. It was a passionate atmosphere, filled with jolly beer lovers from around the world. Right after I walked in a spotted a guy (now friend) in a Broncos sweatshirt, I thus immediately asked him if he was from Colorado, almost as if it was a reflex or something. Turns out he met his wife (who is from Wyoming) in Colorado. Long story short, we ended up chatting with these cool cats for the rest of the night. I think to myself at times like these how wonderful it is to just be somewhere, meet people and share conversation. As we crossed off beers in our little pamphlets snacking on delicious cheese platteres paired with various beers, the time flew.
Our weekend Belgian beer adventure also included stops in Kortrijk, Brasschaat and in the Essen ‘burbs at a magical beer shop. More details on the sleep/grub spots in the below. Oh, Belgium…
Yes, all of that beer in boxes was in our trunk on the way home. Oops. We got carried away at the ABC shop in Essen, where Belgian beer was as cheap as can be.
Give Paul’s Boutique a whirl for lunch. The barmaid at Le Bar Des Amis suggested this place to us, and boy were we glad she did! What a find. The burger joint features an unforgettable menu with a longer list of veggie burgers than that of normal ones.
We stayed at the Hotel Central, that was suggested on the Kerstbierfestival website. It was way nicer than any hotel in Paris I had been to on my budget (or other places in France for that matter), so I was thrilled. What made it at the top of my list was the buffet breakfast included. Not only buffet, but delicious eggs and bottomless freshly squeezed OJ. Plus, the Dutch know just what to do with their gouda, and it it always at the breakfast table. After a long Saturday involving ridiculous amounts of beer, a hearty breakfast was exactly what we needed.
I will admit, when looking at the map and choosing a place to stop through on our way back to France, Brasschaat stuck out. We popped through this magical town all decked out for the holidays and had a coffee at De Kroon. The restaurant had incredible decoration – so tasteful – but unfortunately we had to keep heading southwest, so a coffee had to do.
Check out Ana Clara’s documentation of the weekend here.