Ah … the Beligique. The bar in which we our journey toward beer enlightenment officially begins. Many a good night’s evening in Amsterdam has begun at the Belgique.
There's an old saying that goes: "No matter where you go, there you are." Well, as long as "there" refers to the Cafe Belgique in Amsterdam, then that's just fine.
I had met Orval, Leffe, Duvel and Straffe Hendrik on a brief visit in Belgium en route from Paris to Amsterdam. But the Belgique is where it all came together. I remember racing back from CeBIT in 1995, blowing the engine out of a Renault that just wasn't ready for the Autobahn ... all to get to the Belgique before it closed, and enjoying my first Rochefort 10 and a Gulden Draak.
Every Amsterdam pilgrammage includes a mandatory stop at the Belgique as new friends are introduced to and old friends reacquainted with the Belgian beer experience. Unfortunately, the Belgique doesn’t have a very wide selection, and its quality has gone downhill in recent years, but it is still the official starting point for Belgian beer drinking in Amsterdam.
Enjoying several beers and then navigating the steps to and from the restroom will challenge the best of the drinkers.
But one rule about the Belgique is that all stories that are told or occur inside of the Belgique remain there. As one of the gits was heard to say as he aimlessly wandered the streets of Amsterdam in the early morning hours, after a night that had begun at the Belgique, “All I’ve got to say, is that I’ve got nothing to say.”
Of course that particular night also included a stop at the Bulldog, and it was probably the latter stop that left him speechless. If you should visit the Bulldog, there is one thing that you should always remember, particularly the Bulldog in the Leidseplein (or the Bleedin' Spleen as we like to call it). If you've had too much to drink, too much to smoke, are suffering from jetlag, or any combination of the above, always wear a stool strap.
I think he was just jetlagged, but Frenchy started feeling a little lightheaded downstairs at the Bulldog. Finally he leaned forward and said that he was going to step outside for a breath of fresh air.
As he fell to the floor, the bartender leapt over the bar ... and all I could picture was the scene from Pulp Fiction, and the adreneline needle straight into the heart.
Luckily for Frenchy, all she had was a glass of sugar water.
But every year, needless and tragic injuries occur at the Bulldog, because people don't wear their stool strap. Don't be a hero, buckle up.
But I digress from the true topic of conversation once again. You can read more about Café Belgique on the CeBIT road trip story.