February 23, 2013

A Hidden Statue

Back in November, my darling little brother came to visit me. We meet up in Paris and spent the weekend.

While cutting through the jardin de Luxembourg, I suddenly remembered that the statue of liberty has a second residence there. Or at least, I thought I remembered there being a copy of her statue, and was pretty sure it was in the Luxembourg gardens.

So we checked out the directory. There was no mention of it. But I wasn’t going to let some silly, not very precise map be the end-all-be-all of statue of liberty locations.

Luckily just then, a rather cute twenty something Parisian gentlemen happened upon our path. I asked him about the statue.

He was in agreement with the directory.

I was in disagreement with both of them.

My brother was growing impatient, and seemed ready to give up on our quest, when I saw them; an elderly couple going for a leisurely stroll through the park. And I knew that they knew because, as I said to my brother, “old people know things.”

Excusez-moi? Bonjour” (Excuse me? Hello)

Bonjour…” (Hello…)

Desolée de vous derangez, mais je voulais savoir si vous savez pour la statue-“ (Sorry to bother you, but would you happen to know where the statue-)

She didn’t even let me finish my question.

Ah oui, tout le monde veux la voir. Elle est juste là, à gauche, derière les joeurs de pétanque.” (Oh yes, everybody wants to see her. She’s just over there, on the left, behind the bocce ball players).

Little brother and I with Lady Liberty herself!

Following her flawless directions, my brother and I saw the tiny version of the Statue of Liberty. Not a common tourist destination to be sure, but the important thing to remember is that I was right!

February 18, 2013

Best Beer in the World : A Visit to Saint Sixtus

50 minutes by car away from Lille, in the middle of nowhere Belgium, surrounded by flat fields as far as the eye can see, lies a hard to find monastery, the Abbey of Saint Sixtus.

While there are eight beer-brewing monasteries, collectively known as Trappists, the Abbey of Saint Sixtus remains much in the shadows when compared to its monastic brethren.

This is because their beer, unlike its better-known counterparts such as Chimay and Orval, is not sold commercially. In order to buy it, according to their website, one must call in advance, hope to have a little luck as their phone line is often busy, and give them your license plate number. Each car is allowed one crate.

In order to taste it, however, there is a lovely little visitor’s center just across the way from the Abbey. This is the only place in the world where the beer is available.

Why would one go to so much trouble just to drink beer you might ask? Easy, it is widely considered the best beer in the world.

And boy oh boy, I dare say I do agree.

The Westvleteren 12 is a strong, dark beer, coming in at 10.2%, and it is to this beer the Abbey owes all its fame.

The Westveletern 12 in all its glory.

I don’t usually enjoy dark beers, but this one was delightful with a caramel finish. I spent a lovely afternoon there with friends, drinking incredible beer and eating delicious cheese.

While we had a great time, we were definitely of the wrong age. We were the only young people in the room. And to make matters even more complicated, the menu is entirely in Flemmish, the servers only speak Flemmish, and all the other people in the establishment were speaking in Flemmish.

Not to worry, all one really needs to do is drink one Westveletern 12, and that 10.2% ABV makes everyone fast friends.

Check it out:
"In de Vrede"
Donkerstraat 13
Tel. 057/40.03.77
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