We chose a car over taking the train as there were two bottle shops we wanted to visit but in hindsight, taking the train and a cab to the bottle shops would have been a better way to travel. Getting out of Gent was a half hour experience of two-way streets converted to one-way and it felt like the GPS was taking us in circles. Returning to Brussels via car was also a slow moving, painful process. The rental was expensive and a headache so trust me, just take the train.
On to why we went to Gent. Beer shopping, of course. We stopped at Hopduvel and Dranken Geers and walked out of both places with some amazing beers. If I had to choose between them, stop at Hopduvel as they had a bigger selection.
We headed to the city center and canals for lunch. I don’t think we got a good sense of Gent given we only walked around the canal for about half an hour and spent some frustrating moments trying to leave the damn city. It was beautiful, but seemed more touristy with the multiple canal rides and every restaurant trying to lure you in. Lunch at a restaurant along the canal wasn’t great- I’d suggest venturing away from the tourist traps to really experience a sense of Gent. A friend visited Gent after us and loved it so our very brief experience isn’t really valid. On that note, please ignore this paragraph and ask someone knowledgeable.
From there, onto de Struise in Oostvletern. Unless you’re staying in Poperinge, you need a vehicle to get to de Struise. We planned on visiting Brouwerji de Sint-Sixtusabdij van Westvleteren, more commonly known as Westvleteren or Westy, but alas, their café was closed during our visit. We still found a few bottles to purchase of Westvletern 8 and 12 in a store in Brugge, but it would have been nice to visit the café of the Trappist brewery.
De Molen has thirty taps but when you arrive after a bus load of thirsty (greedy) tourists, there are only nine on tap. Say it isn’t so! The brewery is located in an old school house and is worth a visit even with the limited beer we had. We sat out in the courtyard listening to Mr. Head Brewer/Home Brewer/CAT Scan Reader (see Brussels post for the full story) continue his merry web of lies to a pleasant lady and her very friendly dog (who may have gotten some pets from me – the dog, not the big hairy liar). It was a brief trip to de Struise but I’m glad we were able to visit.