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A Eurotrip for Beer Drinkers

Guest post by Zack Davisson

photo credit: Will Stewart

There are plenty of cultural reasons to visit Europe. But who decided architecture and museums have any more cultural value than beer drinking? We say beer can be just as good of a reason for a vacation, so forget the overcrowded hotspots like the Eiffel Tower and instead file into a pub for a pint of liquid gold. With the help of our buddies and vacation rental gurus at AllTheRooms, we’ve created a list of the best cities in Europe for beer drinkers.

Munich

If Europe had a beer capital, Munich would probably be it. There is no region more synonymous with beer than Bavaria, and there isn’t an event more ingrained in beer culture than Oktoberfest. Munich is the capital of one and the host of the other. Oktoberfest isn’t just an opportunity to wear lederhosen and dirndl, the Germans take their beer drinking seriously. Every Oktoberfest (which last 16 days), around 2 million gallons of Oktoberfest Beer is consumed. For some perspective, you could overflow Shamu’s performance tank at SeaWorld with that much — and just a reminder Shamu is a whale. Beer drinking is iconic in Munich; while over cities may have famed landmarks, the top thing to do in Munich is savoring a stein of golden goodness.

More stories on Prime Passages about beer experiences in Munich and Bavaria

Amsterdam

photo credit: Christian Gertenbach

While it may be better known for its notorious “coffee shops”, Amsterdam’s beer scene is top notch. There are certainly plenty of cool bars to stop in for a local microbrew here, but Amsterdam’s beer tourism begins and ends at the Heineken brewery in the center of town. This is the original brewery to make Heineken but as the company has expanded, so has the building. Nowadays, it hosts tours, and guests can learn about the history of one of the world’s top 10 highest selling beers, as well as get a few samples.

Reykjavik

This one may come as a bit of a surprise to some, but Iceland’s nightlife scene is one of the most fun in Europe. From high-end lounges to simple pubs, Iceland’s capital has seen a huge surge in bar openings thanks to its newfound bustling tourism market. The team at Einstök brews Iceland’s best beer and their Icelandic White Ale is now even sold across the US. They do have a brewery open to the public in Iceland, although tourists will need to leave Reykjavik and head to Akureyri in Northern Iceland to see it.

Prague

Highly regarded worldwide for some of the Pilsner they produce, Prague takes their beer traditions seriously. While many beer-drinkers may think imported Pilsners are tasty, many Czech breweries actually make their local product slightly differently for that which gets shipped overseas. As a result, many people swear the quality of beer in Prague is noticeably higher. Boozy travelers should pay a visit to the Prague Beer Museum; the name may be misleading as it’s not a museum at all, but the bar has one of the best selections of Czech beer anywhere, partially because that’s all they sell!

More stories on Prime Passages about beer experiences in Czechia and Prague

Brussels

So we are willing to give Munich the “Beer City of Europe” award, but we have to hesitate with giving Germany the top country honors. That hesitation is all thanks to Belgium. Belgian-style beer is some of the best in the world and some of their finest has been made for centuries by monks in various monasteries throughout the country. The top place to grab some beers is in the capital, Brussels, around Grand Place. The narrow, cobblestone streets are packed with hundreds of small cafe-bars, and have a great atmosphere.

It’s hard to pick just one favorite, but the must-see bar here has got to be Delirium Café. In 2004, the café set the Guinness World Record for most beers offered in one place, with an astonishing 2,004 different varieties. We’ll let you tackle that menu by yourself, but Delirium does make award-winning beer of their own, just look for the label with the pink elephant on it.

Dublin

photo credit: John Carpenter

Hey, did someone say, Guinness?! That’s right, that dark, foamy, possibly intimidating glass of nectar originated in Dublin. And just like the Heineken factory, folks can come to Dublin and head over to the Guinness factory to see where the pitch-black elixir comes from. Guinness’ logo is famously a harp, and a stroll outside of the Guinness headquarters and around Dublin’s many pubs reveals why the symbol is appropriate. On just about every street, live music pours out of cozy pubs to create a cacophony of clinking glasses and a twang of musical chords that is distinctly Irish.

More stories on Prime Passages about beer experiences in Ireland and Dublin

Krakow

Some beer travelers may think the only thing to drink in Poland is vodka (including water, not just other alcohols), but the truth is Polish cities like Krakow have a burgeoning craft brew scene. Krakow plays host to lots of eccentric watering holes that stay open through all hours of the night. Wander into any of these, with or without a friend, and expect to be greeted by curious/friendly/opinionated locals ready for a chat. For those who have just enough cash for a plane ticket and not much else, drinking is going to be cheaper here than in any other city on this list.

London

London is one of the most expensive places to live, there’s no way around that. However, while many social scenes are overrun with the martini and champagne crowds, it’s impossible to kill London’s pub culture. Step into any traditional pub like Shakespeare’s Head on Carnaby Street and get ready to meet a mixed crowd of intellectuals and hooligans, foreigners and longtime Londoners. The company is diverse, the beer is good, the beer gardens are a treat (in summer), and the English food isn’t always for the faint of heart, but the experience is always one of the best in Europe.

More stories on Prime Passages about beer experiences in England

Zack is a recovering technical recruiter who traded in his suit and tie in Silicon Valley for salsa music and a passion for writing in Medellin, Colombia. When not writing for AllTheRooms you can find Zack with his nose in a book, puttering around nature, or getting ultra-competitive while watching Jeopardy.

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Deja Vu All Over Again


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While most people simply admire old photos, Irina Werning is more interested in how people would look and feel if they were to reenact them today. Several years ago, she started to ask people to go back to their past and recreate a moment in time – even down to the exact body positions and facial expressions.  Click on the image to left or on the source link below to see her complete series of images …

Source: Back to the Future

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Unique Exhibit features the Old Spanish Trail

spherical photoSome time ago I featured a project by photojournalist Janire Najera in an article on this blog (read it here).  Janire was documenting the Old Spanish Trail which runs from Santa Fe, NM to Los Angeles in her project called “Moving Forward, Looking Back”.

Moving forward, looking back is being exhibited as part of Diffusion, Cardiff International Festival of Photography (Wales, UK). The exhibition can be visited at the second floor of the Stadium Plaza during October, (Tuesday to Saturday 11am to 5pm) — Can’t make it to Wales?  You can also experience a variation of the exhibit in virtual form through your browser — the virtual tour was created from an exhibition earlier this yearnat the former residence of the ambassadors of Spain in Washington, D.C.

Be patient as the virtual tour is a large file and can take a bit of time to load depending on your connection speed.  Use the arrows to navigate through the different rooms and enjoy exploring the space and the artwork.  You can click on all the images to see the photographs larger and by navigating into the conference room you can access and listen to interviews with descendants of pioneers of the Old Spanish Trail and others.   The photograph above is of a unique spherical format photo (imagine printing a 3-D image onto a huge balloon) that was part of the exhibit.

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Craft Beer Hiking

BeerHikeNNM - afall_colors.pngWhat do I like better?  A great hike in the forests and canyons of Northern New Mexico? …. or trying out interesting beers to quench my thirst after a great workout? …. or sharing either of those experiences with kindred souls? That is a hard one …. so I decided to combine all of these into one activity …. a “craft beer hike”.

My love of this kind of activity comes from years of living in Bavaria where there is a high concentration of small breweries that are fun to create hiking routes between. (read about beer hiking in Bavaria here) The growth of the craft beer movement in the

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US and in NM got me to thinking about where there are opportunities to do a similar kind of hiking experience here.

A few Saturdays back, I led a small group of eleven on a craft beer hike in Los Alamos, culminating in a visit and orientation at Bathtub Row Brewery, one of New Mexico’s newest breweries. The other stops along the way were at tap rooms that feature a variety of craft beers. Between the beer stops were segments of gorgeous hiking through forest and canyon.

Sound like your kind of activity? Guided craft beer hikes are offered in Los Alamos on Saturdays. Pricing includes beer, snacks, and the services of a local guide. The next available dates are October 17 and 24 … should be prime time for fall colors. Details and booking are available at www.primepassages.com/travel

The scenery along the way is spectacular. We were ready for another beer by the end of each of the hike segments.
BeerHikeNNM - dhighres_439188847.jpegWe sampled the equivalent of a pint selected from a variety of craft brew choices at each of three different stops along the hike.

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Bathtub Row Brewery treated us to a brewery orientation before we tasted their latest offerings.BeerHikeNNM - fhighres_439155423.jpeg

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Striking Textures

When I saw this image by Albuquerque photographer Lynn Black, my mind started arguing with itself about what I was looking at … coarse hair of some kind? … some kind of plant fiber like tassels from corn ears? … some kind of high altitude scientific imagery?

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Lynn and I are both part of a Meetup group called Arts New Mexico.  If you have never happened upon Meetup.com, it is well worth checking out.  It is a generally a social network for people who are interested in actually meeting in person.  But back to Lynn’s intriguing image …

One of Arts New Mexico’s organizers put up a Meetup event inviting participants to post photos each week during the coming year that will follow a different theme every week.  This week the theme was “textures” and the participants contributed a broad variety of interesting images.  You can view them all if you like.  With this assignment in mind, Lynn said that he was climbing/hiking in the “Valley of Fire” State Park in Nevada this week at sunset and the sandstone layers really lit up with the sun at the low angle.  Striking vision!

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Cool tool for 4pi photography

A new app that I’m playing around with on my iphone is Bubbli (bubb.li) a tool for making and sharing dynamic spherical photos called bubbles.  Imagine you are standing inside a bubble looking at an image that is covering the interior surface so you can look around and see the view (and hear the sounds) that surrounded you when you took the picture.  Click here or on the image below to see and hear an example — this is an image taken with the Bubbli app on my iphone on my morning walk yesterday.

Taking a picture is kind of like painting the inside of an imaginary sphere with your iphone.  Imagine that spray paint is coming out of the iphone camera aperture and you are moving the iphone to completely paint the inside of the sphere.  The Bubbli app has good instructional videos and helps you to make this task easy.  The example image below took me 30 seconds or so to capture.  Once the image is captured. the app processes it into a draft of sorts, then uploads it to be fully processed into the spherical image — that does take a while: a few minutes for my example below.  Each image gets its own url and there are options built into the app for sharing via popular social networks or by email.  All a recipient needs to view an image is a browser … they don’t need any special software or downloads.  You view your library of images on your phone.  This is kind of like your phone display being a window into a snapshot of the past — you navigate by physically moving your phone around to look up, down, and otherwise explore the image.  You can pull up a map to see where the image was taken and you can put images together into an album.

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Slomo

What is it that makes you come alive?  The answer for Dr. John Kitchin, a.k.a. “Slomo” is both offbeat and rooted in Dr. Kitchin’s knowledge and experience as a neurologist.  My wife shared this link with me from her daily message of inspiration from Karmatube.org.  The short, award-winning  documentary (click here or click image below to watch) “Slomo” from director John Izenberg shares Kitchin’s story of leaving the rat race in favor of what he calls his “personal delusional system”.   Interestingly, he describes his views on material vis-a-vis spiritual matters and his analysis about the neuroscience of “putting yourself in the zone.”

Click image to play video
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