Have you ever taken a European river cruise? Have you ever cruised with Uniworld Boutique River Cruises?
Our customers love to cruise on Uniworld. In fact it has one of the highest rates for repeat trips amongst all the suppliers we use.
You may very well ask why that is. Well for starters, the standards of accommodations, food and service are extremely high. The ships have very tasteful interiors and yes they are all different, with each being as unique as your voyage. Typical cruise lengths are 8 – 15 days and everything is included, making for carefree and truly effortless travel. Included are: scheduled airport transfers, all dining on board, unlimited beverages (including many premium spirits), personalized shore excursions, fitness center, Wi-Fi, on-board entertainment and all gratuities.
OK – is this a commercial? Yes it pretty much is and here is why. We currently have some very special amazing prices on select Uniworld Cruises including our group cruise in April 2017 from Amsterdam to Antwerp. This “Tulips and Windmills” cruise is scheduled to coincide perfectly with a visit to the famous Keukenhof gardens which has over 7 million bulbs in bloom each spring. Additionally we will visit the windmills of Kinderdijk, the picture perfect villages of Veere, Hoorn and Enkhuizen, and the cities of Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Bruges and Antwerp. So much to see and so much to do but you need to act fast. Why? Because our amazing special pricing only lasts until October 11. Give us a call at 262.538.2140 to reserve your spot with our group.
For additional details on the ship and the trip you may also want to visit our web page.
Depending on your preferences, one of the greatest gifts that Belgium has given to the world is beer. Some would say waffles, but they probably just need to try more beer to get their priorities right. Here’s what English writer Michael Jackson had to say in his book Great Beers of Belgium – “Civilization may have begun with beer. On the basis of that theory, it might be argued that Belgians have their priorities right. In pursuing their enthusiasm for beer, they are simply seeking to be civilized people. The suggestion is that, when humans stopped being hunters and gatherers, and settled into organized societies in order to grow grain, their purpose was not to bake bread, but to brew beer.”
Belgian beer is unlike no other in the world. Michael also writes – “No other European country has beers that are quite so complex in character as the finest in Belgium. No other country has native beers as diverse, individualistic, even idiosyncratic. Some are so unlike conventional beers as to shock the unwary consumer.”
So where do we start our Belgian beer journey? Do we head to an Abbey or Trappist monestary? Do we go in search of wild yeast Lambics? Where can we find red beer, fruit beer, spiced beer, farmhouse ale, dubbels, tripels, quadrupels? Well, you can’t really make a bad decision in this country, but as for us, we started in the northwest area of the country in the province of West Flanders.
There are so many fantastic places to visit in Belgium, but certainly on the top of any list of where to go should be the city of Bruges. How special is it? Well, the entire city center of Bruges is designated as a UNESCO world heritage site. It is one of Belgium’s and Europe’s best preserved medieval cities. There is so much to see, do, eat (9 Michelin Star restaurants!) and drink that you should spend a couple days here at least as part of your Belgian beercation.
During the “Golden Age” in the 12th through 15th century Bruges was a European economic powerhouse. Foreign merchants from Portugal, Gaul, England, Scotland, Venice and the middle east all set up trading in Bruges. It was the home to what is widely believed to be the worlds first stock exchange opened in 1309. Now Bruges is a picture postcard perfect tourist destination, with wonderful canals and within the historic city center, street after street of charming historic buildings.
There is so much to see and do in Bruges. You may want to start by climbing the belfry to see the carillon in action. You definitely should take a boat ride on the canals. You may even want to go to the lace museum. Eventually though, you really should make your way to De Halve Maan, the only family brewery in the historical center of Bruges that is still active.
Historical records mention existence of a brewery called Die Maene (The Moon) in 1564. However it wasn’t until 1856 that Leon Maes (also known as Henri I) founded a “modern” brewery. In 1867 his sons took over the brewery and started applying new technology imported from England to produce stouts and pale ales. The sons died young, but their widows helped manage the brewery through the difficult years of the first world war. In 1919, Leon’s grandson (Henri III) took over and picked up the latest brewing technology from Germany. They began to brew lagers and rounded out production with soft drinks as well. Henri III specialized in a home delivery service system with horse and hamper, making a point to visit every customer at least once per year. In the 1950’s Henri IV took over and helped expand the breweries home delivery service with trucks. However, in the 1970’s this was the downfall of the home delivery system as people had their own cars and started buying beer in supermarkets. In the 1980’s, interest in traditional regional Belgian beers was increasing and Veronique, the daughter of Henri IV launched a new special beer, brewed to honor the inauguration of the Saint Arnold (patron saint of brewers) statue in Bruges. It was a blond beer of high fermentation and was given an appropriate name of Straffe Hendrik (strong Henri). However, In 1998 Straffe Hendrik brewing was taken over by a different brewery, Riva NV. In 2005 Veroniques son Xavier Vanneste revived activities a the brewery through extensive rennovation and modernization. He launched a new beer “Brugse Zot”, which has been brewed with great success, garnishing many awards. In 2008 Straffe Hendrik brewing returned once again to De Halve Maan.
De Halve Maan is a rather vertically oriented brewery, so during the tour you move from the brewing room up, up and up until you are on the roof of the brewery and have a great view of city of Bruges. The old malting room and fermentation tanks are still in place (although no longer used) and make for a great combination of the modern and historical during the tour. Tours are extremely popular and a completely international affair, provided in Dutch, French, German and English!
Start in the gift shop? or finish in the gift shop?
How about some Belgian fries (world’s greatest) while waiting for your tour
We just returned from an amazing trip to Belgium and France. We have all sorts of new stories to tell along with some great photos and videos. Our first stop in Belgium was the picture postcard perfect city of Bruges (or Brugge in Flemish). Bruges certainly has a lot to offer and we could have easily spent several days there to take it all in. But before we start posting about the town and our new favorite Belgian brewery De Halve Maan, we want to put up a quick post on lace making.
Lace making? Paul did mention to Sue something about that he’d rather have a sharp stick in the eye instead of going to the lace museum — but, it is certainly fascinating to see how lace is made by hand. We hope you enjoy.