May 05, 2010
First day of the trip is over, lots has gone on.
After getting to Heerlen, RP, RS, and I ended up wandering towards the center of town, a bit lost while trying to find our respective hotels. The issue was the directions I got off the hotel website listed no street names. They read more like "take the first right, then left at the first street, then right, then left." We ran into CS, who got us pointed in the right direction. RP and I found a street map and figured out where we were and how to get to the hotel.
At the hotel I nearly had a freak out moment at the front desk because they could not find my reservation. I had the E-mail confirmation with me but the number wasn't coming up with anything. Luckily they gave me a room anyway since they were not filled up. I got into the room and proceeded to take a long shower. I had been feeling really grungy after traveling most of the day and walking around without being able to change clothes. I tried to get online but it turns out room access on the Wi-Fi is paid only.
After some time I went downstairs and met up with KB to go and have dinner and drinks with the other attendees. We started at the pub with Royale beer, and later with Grolsch. I had wanted to try Duvel after someone said it was good, and very strong, so not everyone may like it. That just gives me more of an incentive to try it. After a few other folks joined us, we went off to have dinner, which was to be at an Italian restaurant that JR knew about. After a phone call to LH to get us in the right direction, we had arrived.
Il Castello looks like many other Italian Restaurants in that it has that clean stucco look and was complete with a wood-fired oven in the middle that was actually used for cooking. Of course the menu was in Dutch and Italian so it was a matter of picking out familiar words. I went with a shrimp scampi which was most excellent. JR bought a bottle of the house wine and it was a 2 for 1 special so there was plenty to go around the table. During the dinner, LH and RP stopped by and said hello before they were heading out to another pub to watch an important futbol game.
After dinner we met up with LH and RP towards the end of that game. With being in a pub that serves Duvel, I got to try it. RP asked if I was sure I wanted it because he said it was strong and I might not like it. Again, you tell me something like that and I'm going to say "Bring it!" So I tried it and yes, I like Duvel. It has a rich, slightly bittersweet taste. I stayed with the group and had good conversation until I looked at my watch and realized it was midnight, so it was definitely bedtime.