All in Europe

Walking for Wine

The steep valley walls approached the beetling of a gorge at times and trapped the sun’s heat creating a unique microclimate ideal for viticulture. The Ardennes and Hohes Venn to the west shielded the valley from rain providing the southern facing slopes with over 1300 hours of sunshine a year.  Slate rock lined the ground at the base of the vines, retaining the sun’s heat and insulating the grapes’ root structure.

Three Tallies, Three Kölsch

Just inside the door, Köbes, Kölsch bartenders in Köln, accumulated in the stone lined sallyport leading to the beer garden.  They turned in unison beginning an exaggerated process of grouchy inspection, head-to-toe. Suffering mild humiliation in a similar Kölsch beer hall (Malzmühle) a few hours before, we walked confidently past the aproned guardians of Päffgen towards the beer garden, masking our anxiety with scowls and grunts of salutation.  

Nunnery to Brewery

Our second stop, Brasserie C, brought us south for the day in the first place.  At the base of the Montagne de Bueren, next to the stairs running up towards the old citadel, we saw a sign to the left and up a narrow alley for the brewpub.  All the buildings looked and felt very old in this section of town, aptly referred to as Old Town.  We eventually found the entrance after circumnavigating the building and breached a doorway requiring a slight duck to avoid a bruise and headache.  We walked indoors to a dark, empty bar and met with Kerian, their Public Relations & Beer Tour representative.  The building, a nunnery in 1611 and an architectural museum in the 1960’s, began with solid ecclesiastical bones and consolidated much of Liege’s iconic furniture, paneling, doors, and fireplaces under one roof.  

A Belgian Blonde in Limburg

Comparing our arrival in Belgium to that in Mexico six months ago paints the canvas in black and white.  

In Mexico: we landed in Oaxaca at 10 PM, at an abandoned airport where everything and everyone lived in Spanish; Sara and I shared a seat on the bus (a van) burgeoning with bags and humans; we rode down dark dirt roads chasing stray dogs through the maze of wire fences and graffitied buildings; we bumped along for 1.5 hours to move 20 miles; last to leave the bus, we nervously walked with our 50 pound packs along a one light street searching for a red door and our home for the next month.  

In Belgium: we landed around noon; the airport, clean and streamlined, seemed designed for efficiency; our rental car was waiting, we purchased a SIM card next to the rental car office, and had the option to do it all in English, Dutch, or French; we drove down the Autobahn to Zutendaal for a week-long house-sit; at the drive-way, the gate opened and our hosts greeted us, showed us around and introduced us to a dog, two cats, and two horses; we walked the dog down narrow paths through the woods in the failing light, sat on the couch with wool socks and radiant heat building, made room for the dog by our feet, and looked out the window at a Whitetail bounding as the evening drizzle pattered on the skylights, sounding like static on a record.