Friday, November 7, 2008

The Best Beer Ever

The weary traveler looked up at the sun.  In a blaze of pink clouds it was beginning to set.  Should he make camp, or continue on into the night and into the strange land ahead?  A mysterious abbey awaited him somewhere on an unknown road.  The sun's lingering light momentarily broke through the clouds.  Emboldened he kicked his trusty aluminum steed into gear.

Passing across the French/Belgian border I felt like a character from some medieval tale  Robbed, pennilless, yet while singing joyfully to the cows, I headed into a strange new country where Trapist monks in an old abbey awaited me. 

 The half moon rose above the shadowy fields.  A thick and low mist shrouded the trunks of trees.  The road, damp and glistening in the moonlight, gleamed like silver snake winding into the distance.  

My route dwindled into ever smaller and remote roads.  Finally, not a street or house light remained.   Even the road signs were no longer of metal, but carved in wood.  At one point, thunderous crashing arose in the bushes beside the road, and a heard of wild beasts dashed across the road.  I stopped incredulous.  I learned later I had seen a troop of wild boars.  

A wrong turn, and additional 7 kms later, and I made it.  The driveway wound up to a massive wood door.  The chapel bells rang as I waited.  At long last a diminuative yet spritely old monk opened the door and beckoned me in.  

"We have been awaiting an eternity for your arrival".

(he really said that!)

I was served a late but much welcomed dinner.  I explained I had come 3000 kms by bike.  "You could use a good strong beer couldn't you?" asked Pere Jaques rhetorically.  It really wasn't so much a question as it was a prescription.  He came back with a special bottle of their strongest brew.  Beer happens to be one the abbey's finest products-- their Chimay brand brew.

Wow.  That was good.

It was the best beer I have drank in a long time.

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