Wednesday 2 November 2022

A quick visit to Brussels


St Pancras International, looked over by Sir John Betjeman 

St Pancras station was a dreary place some thirty years ago when I first arrived there by train; almost derelict, the station hotel had long since closed under the nationalised British Rail and the magnificent building had been left to ruin, a dark and gloomy reminder of what happens when Governments run things. Thankfully, that is all in the past and today St Pancras is a light, airy, bustling station with plenty of bars including a Wetherspoons, The Barrel Vault  and a Young's pub, the Betjeman Arms, both of which are preferable to the waiting area for the Eurostar, which does have a bar, serving keg Camden Brewery beers. My choice would be the Betjeman Arms, unfortunately, my delayed incoming train prevented more than a couple of pints before I had to check in. 

First pub stop in Brussels after negotiating the North African pickpockets who inhabit  Brussels Zuid/Midi/South was next to Brussels Central

Yes, Brewdog have a bar in the centre of Brussels. This gave me time to look at a few other options so booted up Untappd and looked at where else to visit in the centre of Brussels. On Untappd there were a few recommendations from friends who had sadly passed away, a bit of a shock seeing their names pop up in the digital afterlife and even more unfortunately most of their recommendations had closed. Being a Monday night, not much else was open.
No matter, a wander around central Brussels.  Any pub flying the Union Flag alongside a Belgium Flag with a Chimay canopy outside must be worth visiting and St Nicolas featured Chimay on draught. In addition the late 1960s/70s Greek prog-rock band Aphrodite's Child which featured Vangelis and Demis Roussos, was blasting out from the music system.

Now in the Netherlands, St Nicolas has a helper, Zwarte Pete and there were a few representations to him in this bar. Ah, the PC Brigade in the UK would be going mad over this, whereas in Belgium it is just seen as a normal custom.

Back to the hotel, as the next morning I had a brewery to visit

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