Archive for the ‘Netherlands’ Tag
Flights from Bristol to Bremen require a plane change in Amsterdam and with the layover and the arbitrary airport nonsense it takes nearly as long (and is just as expensive) to fly to Bremen as it does (is) to take the train from Amsterdam Schiphol. The train requires a change in Hilversum and I decided to grab some pot for the journey and to have a few beers before continuing. I was a fan of the Lion when I used to catch the train back to Amsterdam Z.O. after long runs when we lived there so I stopped there for a little White Widow.
They have a sort of segregated smoking area, which is nice and convenient if a little weird (it is a glassed in room crammed with people while the rest of the house is kind of open). I guess it dates to the smoking (tobacco) ban in workplaces but it wasn’t like this in the old days. From there, I wandered up to De Kroeg for a few glasses of Jupiler.
Football (Ajax vs ADO Den Haag) was on the projection screen but a couple came in and asked for music and the bartender begrudgingly put on some really nice stuff including Dylan doing some blues. Everyone was a regular except me. And, the Jupiler was cheap and cold. Perfection. Plus, the bartender had an interesting shaped head and facial features that would have let him be cast in period dramas set in the bulb-eating days (or earlier); this thought crossed my mind, I remind you, after the first marijuana I’ve had in a year followed by 3 or 4 Jupilers (Jupileren?).
In Bremen, I dropped the luggage at the hotel then dashed to Shanti Shop (location 6 on the running map, below). Prepped for the week, the only thing remaining was dinner each evening and runs in the morning. Well, that and work but my colleague was doing most of that bit so I just had to show up and pay attention.
The runs and the walks are consolidated on the map, here, with the restaurants and some other sites also marked. The mileage added up like this
Sunday was a slow jog due to ice on the streets and resulted in 3.9 miles to the east (and to the head shop) and ended with a stop for a feast at Mexcal (“1” on the map), where I got a platter of mild Mexican food with a slight German spin on it, and a pitcher of beer (ice-cold Haake Beck).
Monday morning I headed up the Weser but in the dark I made stupid choices and found a dead-end just past Übersee Park. The run logged 6.5 (net 10.4) more miles in the cold (it never got past freezing, this trip).
The Monday commute saw some awesome colour in the sunrise and, after work, my work mate and I went to find an Italian place I regularly hit but, lost and too cold to keep looking, we opted for the first thing that looked good. I think his words were, “this MUST be good, there are scads of old locals in here,” which is how we came to dine at Kreta (#2 on the map); I had a meat platter, some sort of cabbage based salad, potatoes, tzatziki sauce…yum. The walks to the lab, to Kreta, and back to my hotel added another 6.6 miles (17.0 total) and took me past this odd sculpture:
Tuesday yielded another pre-dawn run on icy paths in the dark past the football stadium and on to the island (6.9 miles for the loop). This was the worst of the snow and ice days and the commute walk found me layered with snow. The evening was clear and the wind died down so I explored the abandoned town centre before taking a chance on Zui Yuan (3 on the map), where I was treated to some unremarkable but at least not salty Chinese (Szechuan beef and a bit soggy fried rice). The walks added 7.5 miles for 31.4 total.
Wednesday morning, the dark-time run went out to Weseruferpark where I still managed to find a dead-end peninsula (which is good since I logged another 8.4 miles and almost made myself late for work in the slow going). The commute and dinner hikes saw another 6.5 miles and some sunlight and clear skies in the late afternoon. For dinner, I did more Greek at the spectacular Plaka (4, where the Dolmides are to die for).
The lunches throughout were at the dining room of the business I was visiting; these are always good but also always kind of heavy (liver and onions with mashed potatoes and gravy one day, a giant burrito-like thing they called a Turkish pizza another). Sandwiches of meats and cheeses plus a little bit of fruit served as breakfast (I gain weight here).
Thursday morning I had a train to grab at 8:30 so I made a shorter (5.5 miles) run to and around Burgerpark which I believe is technically closed that time of day. It was a bit spooky and I think I rousted some rough-sleepers. With that, the Bremen runs ended on 31.2 miles (with the walks making the total coverage 51.8 miles).
The staff at the Greek places brought out ouzo with the beers and another round with the bills. They pour it like water — some older dude at Plaka kept coming upstairs and, on his odd gesture (he had more elaborate ones as he and the ouzo tap became more and more lubricated), another ouzo would be produced and in a single move he would pick up the glass, down the liqueur, and place the glass on the condensation ring it came from. Opa:
Oh, right…number 5 on the map is the Meisenfrei, an old favourite. They had some aging rockers on Wednesday night and — with nothing but travel ahead and gyros, kalamari, dolmides, beer and ouzo behind — I made a bit of an evening of it. Decent bar, could have used a better band.
Bitterballs and beer at Murphy’s Schiphol…heading home
For what it’s worth, today we have beaten the Statutes of Limitations on most felonies in the United States: 7 years and a day since we moved to England. Here’s the breakdown of this most recent year (noting that the annual run review already covered the calendar year 2015 so this will be a relatively brief look back at the residence year).
Speaking of residence, we were granted Indefinite Leave to Remain in June. I visited 167 new pubs (plus 10 in the new Irish category) and ran slightly more than 2515 miles (including 86 miles in one go). There were trips to Maastricht, Tennessee & Atlanta, and Ireland (where we celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary). There were 22 new Fish and Chips entries to the blog (and 3 kebabs) but not a lot of experimentation in the kitchen (only 6 Recipes added).
Going into year 8 there are no goals, no major plans, and no great expectation of many new pub visits (unless we move house or I do a lot of travelling this year). Maybe I’ll try to write a little better…don’t hold your breath on that one, though.
Looking at annual recaps, past:
At 1 year, 290 pubs and impressions on British running, mostly in Cambridgeshire
2 years saw more maps (2000+ miles that year), travel, and 240 more pubs
3 years ended with 280 pubs and links about another house move
The 4th year ended with 255 more pubs, another house move, and some brilliant racing
Year 5 yielded 134 pubs, some decent travel, and yet another house move
The 6th year entry was very brief, but the anniversary kind of snuck up on me (only 95 pubs)
My flight was early as mentioned before, Passport Control only took 45 minutes, and the coach booking to Swindon was rigid so I had a couple of hours to kill before escaping these inner circles of Hell that are Heathrow Airport. To be near the Central Bus Station, I opted for the Wetherspoons in Terminal 2 and was treated (again) to every airport bar on the planet.
There was upstairs seating for about 8000 people but that section was closed so I ate at one of the 10 tables in the bar floor ghetto off to the right. Had a pint of bitter with the burger for dinner then a lager whilst making notes on the day just past and labelling the holiday photos.
This trip was not too bad, I think…a good set of runs in the Netherlands, a little tourism, and some valiant dope smoking. I gave the last 1/2 gramme of White Widow to a stoner kid on my way to the gates in Schiphol:
“Hey, kid…you are going to smoke pot, right?”
“That is a distinct possibility, bro.”
Ignoring my instincts to push him down the escalator for saying, ‘bro,’ I continued:
“Good, here’s enough heartily psychedelic weed to turn you into a heiroglyph…can’t take it with me so treat her as well as I would if I could stay.”
“Really? Dude, I mean…dude.”
If he remembers this (and he may not), it will be a decent story to annoy friends with…my travelling stoner equivalent of a photobomb.
Properly zooted from the short stop in Eindhoven, I completely forgot to endorse/check-in my OV Chipkaart (prof of passage on the rails) and then sweated the journey to the next stop, ‘s Hertogenbosch; unchecked by the conductor I was able to dash out and check-in at Den Bosch and thus saved myself one stop’s worth of fare.
To celebrate (and to kill off the half hour till the next train), I dove into the Doner Company for my first kebab since 28 December 2013 (almost 1 ½ years). Not too salty, the chilli sauce was good, the garlic sauce was better, and the jalapeño peppers were great. Absolutely awesome.
I’ve travelled through Eindhoven dozens of times but never stopped. With Saturday afternoon (and some leftover weed) to kill, a walk around the city’s parks and seedier neighbourhoods seemed in order. It is a beautiful town but my photographic interests seemed to be skewed by a distinct lack of maturity and concomitant juvenile sense of humour.
Oh, and I like industrial decay and Dutch graffiti (both of which are supplied in heaping servings here).
With an hour to kill after my lunch at the haring stand and then a long evening ahead after the Bier Fest, I planned to spend a bit of time before grabbing a sandwich just wandering the town. From the Markt, the first stop was De Knijnspiep, a beautiful (if somewhat overpriced) local tavern just off the Vrijthof.
Grand old and with a bunny in its name, worth a stop
With only time for a Chouffe (a Belgian ale) here, I soon moved on in ever decreasing circles towards the Aula of Maastricht University where a guy I used to work for was giving his inaugural lecture to the esteemed faculty and about 500 visitors (many of whom I knew from my tenure with the honoured speaker). Along the way, I noticed the guild markings (or those of the industry to which the house holder owed his good fortune) on many grand residences:
When I came to the Aula of the University of Maastricht (after quite some wandering around), I was struck by the Masonic iconography:
But, the main event had to be the talk taking place therein given by the guest of honour. It was good to see him again and to catch up with past colleagues (many of whom are also my group’s current competitors) and especially good to see the huge turnout. The Netherlands is something of a grand place to be a scientist or an engineer and Ron is kind of one of the Rock Stars of this alternate reality…it took ages to get through the reception line to see him but, as he wasn’t expecting me it seemed like a good surprise, too.
Shitty picture, I know, but that’s what a Dutch science icon looks like accepting an Endowed Professorship
Back on the street, I walked the wrong way to the beer festival and kept stumbling upon more pretty buildings.
And, baffling art:
This one was later explained to me (something to do with the Beurs or stock exchange), but see if you can get this image out of your head of Mercury dashing away with some huge, severed testicles:
There was a beer festival Friday night in Maastricht sponsored by PINT (the Dutch sibling of CAMRA). The 24 Uurs van Maastricht Bier Fest was waiting for me next to the Helpoort, the oldest city gate in the Netherlands.
Starting with a Seef Petros aged red beer made with cherries I was immediately blown away. Never having had a beer with so sweet but complex a flavour or exuding such a grand scent I really thought I peaked too soon. As the event progressed, I found several more red beers all similarly cherried up and many very interesting other tipples.
The guys at the Moose Blues bruin stand and its general presentation make it look like a stoner or hobbyist brewery, but Brouwers Verzet seem to know what they are doing. I got the higher alcohol as a way of cleansing my palette after the early dessert but this was just an even more flavourful product.
The Jessenhofke red (above) was another beer flavoured with cherries, sweeter than the others I tried but sublime.
Like any beer festival, it was less civilised than you might hope in the first instance with people pushing past as though their choice will run out in the first 2 hours of the event. But, when the post-work crowd started rolling in (waves of them) there was a dilution of the mental patients into the larger general population.
The Hop en Hout guys were especially helpful and make wonderful beers. I got the Lupoo (for the poo factor) and found it very hoppy, wheaty, sweet and sharp like a western craft ale. Sold on their stuff, I returned for the stout (next photo), which they poured short in the glass (well, it has no head so to about the point the others were poured) but this easily had the most body in any I sampled today…a piece of art, this. Best beer I’ve had in months.
Similar to the adolescent chuckle I had over the poo in Lupoo, I had to try this one (again, another wiener…erm, ‘winner’):
After 8 beers I really was ready to move on for some food and, knowing my luck with directions felt it unlikely I would find my way back. So, with trepidation I reclaimed my deposit on the tasting vessel and stepped out into the city evening.