June 12, 2019 Antwerp BE

It was poring rain when we woke, and the temperature had fallen quite a bit.  Earlier in the trip we probably would just have settled in for the day, but we are feeling some pressure to keep moving so we decided to go ahead and head up to Antwerp.  Our plan is to explore Antwerp today, and then take the train from Antwerp to Brussels tomorrow, as the parking opportunities are pretty limited in Brussels.

Drove to Antwerp pretty much the whole way in poring rain, and we ran into a 40km back up of trucks heading into Antwerp the second busiest port in Europe.  We finally arrived at the aire about 1230 and where Greta Garmin told us to turn there was a gate across the entrance.  It turns out they were closed for lunch, so we found a place on the street until lunch was over.  By the time we settled in the rain had a second wind and was torrential.

Market Square in Antwerp.
Cute sculpture in the square in Antwerp.

About 4 pm it let up so we headed into town.  Besides wanting to get a feel for the center of Antwerp we had one particular location in mind.  Ton in her research on beer had discovered a destination beer bar called Kulminator.  It has made a lot of lists of best beer destinations in the world, and apparently the owner regrets the publicity as he does not want beer tourists, but beer lovers.  Now he has put in a buzzer on the entrance to the bar, and after you ring it he comes out to screen you.  He asks you if you are there to taste beer or to drink beer.  There is a correct answer and if you get it wrong he sends you on your way.  We knew the question in advance but did not know the correct answer, so as we walked there we debated; Ton thinking drink while I was thinking taste.  When the question came Ton gave her answer, but then told him we really wanted to experience the place no matter the answer, so even though she gave the wrong answer she is cute and he let us in.  Inside is a place that feels like an overstuffed living room with a beer bar in it.  The music was classical, and they obviously were making no attempt to be hip or commercial.  When you sit down the owners wife, and beer tender brings you a huge book with all of their beers in the cellar, and points out what is on draft.  The book is intimidating and takes some time to go thru so we stuck with the draft beers which were very eclectic.  We enjoyed two rounds while sharing beer and travel experiences with an Australian/English couple.

The entrance to Kulminator includes a buzzer where you have to convince the owner of your good intentions before you can enter.
A sour and a dark beer among the hundreds hand picked by the owner to be “tasted”.

By the time we left the rain had broke and we enjoyed a couple of hours of sun.  The days are quite long and as I type this at 9:20 we still have another 50 minutes of day light coming.

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