End of bike and beer tour of Belgium
02 September 2011 | Bouillon, Belgium
Thursday, Sept 01.
The original plan for this day was a tough 94 km and very hilly ride into Bouillon, then a bus ride to the abbey of Orval for a tour and dinner. Unfortunately there were just not enough hours in the day and fresh muscles to pull that off, so we rode the first spectacularly beautiful 60 km along the river Semois, then shuttled into Bouillon. It was probably the best biking day of the trip, as the route descended into the rocky canyon of the river, we wove through tight forests and steep descents, all under a beautiful blue sky. Lunch was on the lawn of the DeVille (France) train station, where several kids became excited recipients of the blazing yellow Experience Plus! hats. Our hotel is the upscale La Ferronniere, on a hill overlooking the town and the 8th century castle on the other side of the river. After a brief rest, we shuttled to Orval, toured the ruins of the abbey dating from the 11th century, had a glimpse of the modern abbey built in the early 20th century, then retired to the newly renovated adjacent restaurant for tasting of fresh and aged Orval beers, and dinner. Orval beer is for me one of the best of this country, employing a mixed fermentation in its production resulting in nicely complex flavors without a high alcohol content.
So that's a wrap on the 2011 Experience Plus! Bike and Beer tour of Belgium. There is no other bike and beer tour in the world like this one. Every day, we rode a modest 70 km on average, yet found ourselves in a region with a completely different local beer culture than the day before. In just 10 days we experienced the complete diversity of this amazing beer country, (almost) completely by bike. This diversity density just does not exist anywhere else on the planet.
Zia and I relax in Bouillon until Sunday, when we make our way to Stuttgart, to start the next chapter of the Euro tour.