Monday, 30 June 2008


Every so often, Kruidvat sell 10 euro train tickets. You can use them to travel anywhere in holland at the weekend. The catch is that they are only valid for a limited period. Our last ones expired yesterday. Which is why the whole family went to Middelburg on Saturday.

Why Middelburg? Well, it had to be somewhere a good way from Amsterdam to drag the most out of the cheap tickets. No point going somewhere we can get to for 11 euros any time. And the kids are collecting provinces. With their first trip to Zeeland, they've now crossed off ten of the twelve.

Middelburg has the typical zig-zag outline left by 17th-century defensive earthworks. Inside, winding streets are filled with narrow, red tile roofed houses. "Everything is so low" Dolores commented. She's right. The older houses in Amsterdam are on average two stories higher. We're such city slickers.

Lexie had come prepared. The night before he'd made his own Google map with the most important locations marked: train station, museum, beer pub, toy shop. We didn't make it to the museum. After half an hour standing below the air-conditioning vent in Intertoys, I was ready for a beer. Dolores, too. Fortunately a decent-looking pub was at hand.

Right next to the main church, Eetcafé Desafinado thoughtfully had boards outside with the complete menu for both food and drinks. Half a dozen draught and about a dozen bottled beers. Including Westmalle tripel. That'll do me. Dolores went for a Koninck.

Now I look at the photo, I realise that I failed to notice the house beer, Lange Jan. How embarrassing. I hope it's just a label beer.

Andrew had already noticed many cars with German plates. A good portion of our fellow customers enjoying the sun on the terrace were Germans, too. What am I saying? Technically, our party was 75% German. The large German contingent probably explains the presence of Paulaner Hefeweizen on draught. Either that or Heineken's pushing of the brand. Whichever, that was Dolores's second beer choice. That's right, Dolores was keen on a second beer. My lucky day. I stuck with Westmalle.

I've wanted to visit Café Mug for a while. I was in Middelburg with Mike last year, but it was a Sunday. Mug only opens Wednesday to Saturday. And from 16:00. This time, I was concerned that might be too late for us and I'd have just 20 minutes drinking. Fortunately, the kids weren't playing up. We were leaning on the door at 15:58. That gave me a full 90 minutes.

Mug is a comfortable pub with a surprisingly large number of rooms. By my count, four. They have even more beers. Somewhere around 70 in total. I feel my descriptive powers waning. If you want to know how it looks inside, I refer you to the photograph. Nice, isn't it?

About 45 minutes before our train was due to depart, Andrew started fretting. He's inherited worrying from his mum. (Lexie got his craziness from me, I'm afraid.) Middelburg isn't that big. And the station is pretty central. "I've easily time for two more beers. Three, if I hurry." "Daaad, just finish that one. There isn't time for another." I hate to lose an argument with one of the kids. As soon as he said that, I just had to order one more beer.

It took us a good 5 minutes to walk back to the station. Where waited on the platform for a further 15. Just as well I'd stocked up on La Trappe Quadrupel in Albert Heijn. When we'd been buying in our train picnic. The two and a half hour journey sped by. Funny how much shorter the return trip always appears. The wonder of beer.

Eetcafé Desafinado
Koorkerkstraat 1,
4331 AW Middelburg.
Tel: 0118 - 640767

Braai Tapperij De Mug
Vlasmarkt 54-56,
4331 PG Middelburg.
Tel: 0118 - 614851


Mark said...

An excellent report Ron. Zeeland, in particular Middleburg, has been on my list for some time. Maybe we'll make it on our next trip to the Netherlands. Will be in Mechelen this weekend for the Beer Bros fest. Cheers from the Black Country!

Boak said...

On a totally different subject, did you manage to support Germany all the way through or did you find yourself rooting for Spain?

I'm rather ashamed that my Germanophilia was outweighed by years of anti-German conditioning, and I found myself cheering when Turkey scored against Germany.

Still, the Germans did have a song called "Schade, England bleibt zu Hause".

Ron Pattinson said...

Mark - hi!

Boak, I supported Germany to the bitter end. But after the Dutch were knocked out, I didn't mind that much who won it.