20 April 2007

Time Out on the Vismarkt

Spring is here in Belgium. Since I returned from my spring break to the states it's been sunny nearly every day. The air is warm, the trees are green, the flowers have bloomed. The best part about spring in Belgium is that all the cafe terraces are open! And last week I discovered a new favorite: De Blauwe Schuit on the Vismarkt. It has a self-contained garden patio shaded by a huge tree with nesting birds (watch out!) and a great beer list. When I went last week with D, S, and H, I decided that the perfect pairing for a warm spring evening would be a fruit beer.

Fruit beer has a bit of a bad reputation in the states. It either represents a watery, seasonal beer that tries a little too hard to be good (I tried blueberry beer once in Boston--ick), or it means Zima with a lime, a truly high-quality beer for young undergrads trying to get very drunk very quickly. In Belgium, however, fruit beers are tasty without being too sweet. The most common ones are cherry, raspberry, peach, and black currant. Among the several brands available in Belgium, the one I ordered (and one of the most common) was Lindemans.

I've said it before: the cafe culture in Belgium is not to be missed. And when paired with fine beer, well, it makes it all the harder to think about leaving. I've been in recent discussion with Z about possibly bringing him back for a couple of weeks this summer before I leave, if for nothing else than to share these kinds of local experiences with me. We talk about it, get caught up in the romantic notion of summering away the days in cafes. Then we remember that we also want to do a fair amount of traveling in the states this summer: east coast and Ohio to visit family, maybe up to Victoria and Vancouver for a long weekend. And, oh yeah, what about that house down payment we keep talking about?

Luckily, the pace of life moves so slowly here in Belgium that the cafes and fine beer will always be here, ready and waiting for our next visit together! And in case you are in doubt as to whether or not you would enjoy it, here are a couple of spring pics to tempt you.

A windmill in Bruges

The botanical gardens in Antwerp

Yoga in Leuven's Stadpark

At the bio-engineering building in Leuven

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