This is the third post about my Brussels trip. The first two parts can be found here and here respectively.
While checking into the hostel, and learning about the next day’s walking tour, I grabbed one of their complimentary city maps. I then lugged my bags up to the room. I’m not one for loitering around the accommodation. It’s mainly just a place to sleep, so I often just go for shared hostel dorms. Unsurprisingly, the room contained an Aussie. Alongside the complimentary maps, all European hostel rooms seem to come with a complimentary Aussie. He was a decent guy and was, as I suspected, traveling around Europe after finishing college. He explained that, after several nights heavy partying, he’d decided to take a welcomed break and abstain from alcohol for the night. His plan was to spend a quiet night in. It was my first night in Brussels, so I obviously wanted to explore. As such, I bid him adieu and headed down to the common room.
While checking-in, I noticed that the reception sold a selection of local beers. I opted to grab one on my way to the common room. Not knowing where to start, I sought advice from the receptionist. He recommended the Trappist beers. The Trappist label is a prestigious one that only eleven monasteries in the world are allowed to use; six of them are in Belgium. It seemed foolish not to enjoy such an esteemed local delicacies while I could, so I grabbed a Trappist beer and continued to the common room.
Back at home I’d made plenty of notes of places I wished to visit, so I began transferring the notes across to my new map. As I took the first swig of the Trappist beer something about it caught my attention. It was nice, but there was a familiar after taste that I couldn’t quite place. I read the label and saw that it was over 9% alc. That’s what the familiar taste was, hazardously high levels of alcohol! It might be made by monks, but it clearly wasn’t made for angels. It was still early, so I decided to opt for a lighter beer next time.
As it was still early evening I was in no particular rush, so I sat for a while casually reading about the city and developing a rough itinerary. There was a famous local bar that came highly recommended, so I decided to visit it a little later.
I’d been there over an hour when a familiar figure walked past me and slumped into the sofa opposite.
“Hi there,” I said to the Aussie, with a wry smile. “So how’s the no drinking going?” I asked, nodding towards the beer in his hand.
He smiled cheekily. “Yeah, I’m just going to have the one.”
We were soon casually chatting away and sharing stories of previous travels and life back home. After a while a girl appeared. She stood and shyly looked around the room while wondering where to sit. Sensing her nervousness we said hello and encouraged her to join us. She was French and had come to Brussels for a job fare. A little while later, after the Aussie had got himself a second beer, a Brazilian guy joined us. As time wore on and more beers were consumed a plan was developed: we’d all head out to the bar I’d marked on my map – contrary to the Aussie’s original honourable intentions. The French girl then went and got her Chinese roommate and off we went, quite the little international drinking crew.
My diligent marking of the bar on my map wasn’t necessary in the end. The Aussie simply used his phone and Google maps to get us there. The superiority of this method was illustrated a couple of nights later when I returned to the bar and got incredibly lost on my way back. The map was pretty tired and tattered by that point making it hard to read. The darkness didn’t help either. Clearly, I should have opted for the Google map method.
Anyway, it was definitely worth getting there, by whatever means. The bar is called Delirium Café and boasts over 2,000 different beers. There isn’t really a menu as there are too many beers. Instead they have a book. And talking of books, the bar is also listed in the Guinness Book of Records for offering more beers than any other bar in the world, unsurprisingly.
We didn’t quite manage to try all the beers, but we certainly had a fun evening. We didn’t get back to the hostel until gone 2am. It was undoubtedly not the evening the Aussie had originally planned. The next morning, when I headed into the common room, I bumped into the French girl. She commented that we’d got in a little later than she’d intended, with a sheepish smile. She was off to her jobs fair. I can’t imagine that she was exactly in the ideal frame of mind. I know I wasn’t. Thankfully all I had planned was my leisurely walking tour followed by a wander around the city. I didn’t see the Aussie guy again. I wonder if he ever achieved his night of sobriety.