See that picture of me I've had pinned to the top left corner of the blog since I started it, a little over a year ago? That was taken -- a little over a year ago -- at Zum Uerige, in Düsseldorf. I hope to have another one soon: I'm headed back. Stephen Beaumont recently contacted me, saying, I'm going to Düsseldorf and Belgium, wanna come along? Hell yes, I did: I, um... have never been to Belgium. True. So I'm going to fix that. After all, Steve's never been to Düsseldorf.
The fun thing is, what originally seemed like a problem -- a trade fair in Düsseldorf made it impossible to find a hotel room (is there always a damned trade fair in that town?) -- turned into a plus: we decided to stay in Köln and take the train back and forth, getting us what Steve is joyfully calling 'a twofer.' So I'm essentially going to be commuting to work, something I haven't done in over ten years, unless you count walking down to my basement office (as I'm sure Ms. Anonymous will tell me doesn't count because it's not a job...thanks, toots). And when I "get home from work," I can toddle by the spectacular Dom for a couple glasses at Früh.
Ahhh, wonderful...and that's not even touching on the beauty that will be visiting Belgium: Brussels, Ghent, a couple small family breweries in the country. I'll be trying to blog some of this for you, but I may get busy. You understand, of course.
It's all part of my continuing education (without brewery sponsorship, by the way) to get to know these places, these breweries, these beers better, so I can write better. Okay, it's fun, too, but shouldn't every job be this satisfying?
(Addition: I promised Adam I'd post the two sites I used to plan that first trip to Düsseldorf and Köln: Ron Pattinson's excellent and superbly chatty European Beer Guide, and Fred Waltman's much more focused Sticke Warriors site. BTW, Adam: I fully endorse Fred's recommendation of Hotel Haus Rheinblick (the link's in German, but if you can figure out that "Reservierungsanfrage" means "reservation requests," you can probably take it from there), a very nice family-run hotel in the north half of the Altstadt, a short easy walk to the Rhine, Im Goldenen Ring is three minutes walk, Uerige is about seven minutes, Im Füchschen is about 12 minutes...and you get breakfast, too, for well under E100 a night. I can't recommend the penzione where I stayed in Köln; clean, but not particularly comfortable, in the Turkish quarter, which was fascinating (and delicious) during the day, but scary at night; we heard frightened screaming people running through the streets two nights in a row. Trying a new place this time; pricier, but close to the train station, because of the commute. Actually...I just looked at the map, and it's not closer to the station. But it is right beside Malzmühle, and it's not uphill, so I'd say it's a win.)