Saturday, December 20, 2008

Diksmuide, Watou & Farmhouse Pub in Belgium (Nov 16)

Since Shannon was working today (on a Sunday!), I went on a road trip with some of our friends, Rick and Stephanie, to Diksmuide, Belgium to see a WWI memorial (1914 - 1918). The town of Diksmuide (aka Dixmude) has been rebuilt due to heavy bombing during the First World War, which reduced the town to rubble. We visited the Pax-tower, the Crypt and the IJzer Tower which form the European Peace Domain. On our journey up the IJzer Tower (84 meters), we were able to explore the 22 floors of the museum within the tower that gave us an idea of the life of the soldiers and the day-to-day life of children and adults during WWI. Since the museum was based in the Flanders region of Belgium and was basically created for all the Flemish soldiers who had fallen in battle, we noticed an extremely strong pro-Flemish attitude throughout the museum. I think this was partly because the Flemish soldiers were commanded by the French during the war and felt humiliated because the French didn't count them as equals. This museum gives the Flemish a lot of credit for all their efforts during the war despite their lower status to the French during this era. The Flemish soldiers believed in a triple plan which stood for Freedom, Peace and Tolerance.

After the history lesson, we decided to head to the small town of Watou to check out Van Eecke's pub (we all really like the Kapittel style of abbey beers that the Van Eecke Brewery produces and have found them to be quite popular in Belgium. Watou also contains another favorite brewery of ours called St. Bernardus). After sampling a beer there, we headed to a farmhouse pub that was listed in the beer book (almost all the US expats at Deloitte along with other 'beer nerds' have this book, called 'Good Beer Guide Belgium' by Tim Web, including us, that tells you about all the beers/breweries in Belgium and includes his rankings along with a variety of pubs with huge beer selections). Going back to the farmhouse, it was a bit sketchy and didn't look like a running pub any longer, but we still decided to set foot in it despite all the dust and piles of magazines and books everywhere. There were three people inside, including the owner, and they ended up being very polite and welcoming towards us. We tried some of their beer from the cellar as they had a decent selection, but Stephanie and I weren't impressed, so we refrained from drinking very much, especially since the bottles we did end up opening were from 1987 and 1997! Supposedly beer ages well and Rick seemed to enjoy them. Rick is actually very knowledgeable when it comes to Belgium beers...I think he has tried about every kind and knows about every beer festival in Belgium! After the owner showed us his cellar full of 'old' beer and after a few friendly chats and sips of crappy beer, in my opinion, we headed out. However, we didn't even get out of the driveway when we realized we had gotten a flat tire. Luckily, Rick had a spare and the guys in the pub helped us change the tire.

IJzer Tower in Diksmuide (WWI Memorial)
View from IJzer Tower of Pax-tower and Crypt below
Stephanie and me at WWI Memorial

Church and clock tower in background in Diksmuide (I think)
Farmhouse Pub: Stephanie and me with a friend of the owner's

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