Having successfully negotiated the main shopping drag, we emerge at the entertainment district at its end.
It’s basically a street with wall-to-wall pubs, two of which are in my little guide. But I ignore Café Hoegaarden, having decided that Taphuys looks a better bet beer-wise. If Dolores hates it – as I suspect she might – we can always toodle along to Café Hoegaarden. That will probably be more to her taste.
It looks like they’re still setting up at Taphuys as a waitress is fiddling with the furniture outside and firing up the heaters. Inside, it’s pretty quiet. And very modern, in a hard and metallic sort of way. Quite like a lot of beer places in the US. I’m pleasantly surprised that Dolores hasn’t recoiled in horror yet. I feared this place would be too crafty for her.
Along a long wall is a row of taps. Hence the name, I guess. Here’s the thing, they aren’t behind a bar. The idea, as the waitress cheerfully explains, is to serve yourself. You put money on a credit-card type thing which you slot into the tap. As you pour beer into your glass, it counts money off the card.
Dolores is strangely taken with the concept. “Tickers will love it. They’ll be able to drink a thimbleful of each beer and tick them off.” I point out. She pours herself, somewhat surprisingly, a Boon Kriek. I manage to resist Abt and get some Tripel or other. The beer list is slightly odd, with quite a lot of UK and US beer, but not that much Dutch.
It’s about 3 PM and Dolores is getting keen to head on to Breda. She wants to look at a Begijnhof there.
“How about dropping by Kandinsky? It’s on the way.” Which is true. We’ll have to virtually walk past it to get to the station.
I’ve been to Kandinsky before, obviously. It’s one of Holland’s oldest specialist beer bars, having been around for several decades. As far as I can tell, nothing much has changed. It has the same dark brown and beer memorabilia décor it always had. The beer list doesn’t seem to have changed much, either.
I’m struck by the small number of beer taps – just eight. Time was that 15 draught beers was a big deal in Holland. The newer crafty places can have as many as 50. Like many of the first-wave beer pubs, Kandinsky concentrates more on bottled beer, offering more than 100.
I reflect on the differences between the three pubs we’ve visited today. Anvers attracts a wide audience and had adjusted its beer range to cater for newer trends. Taphuys is a haunt principally of the young with a trendier range of beer, clearly influenced by the tsunami of new Dutch breweries. And Kandinsky, well, seems to be catering for my age group, with a beer range that looks quite old-fashioned. I suspect they’ll need to make some changes to survive long term.
We have just the one then trundle off to the station. Breda-bound.
Tilburg station is weird. Just a roof really, with a few portacabin-like bits underneath. Which would be fair enough, if the roof weren't for display purposes only. It's raining and quite windy. The weirdly-shaped roof soars above the platforms in places, yet doesn't stretch all the way to their outermost edge. Result: you'll get soaked standing on the one platform if it rains.
Breda station is even worse than Tilburg's. Descending from the platforms, you enter a weird grey twilight world. Like a Doom level, but not quite as cosy and welcoming. I'm gobsmacked.
The exterior is just as bad. Without the NS logo, you wouldn't guess it was a station. More like a failed attempt to build a prison from lego, where there weren't quite enough bricks of the right colour. Leading to random substitutions in other shades.
As I’m taking a photo a couple about my age walk past and the man says “A beautiful station, isn’t it?” obviously mistakenly thinking that I’m snapping it because it looks nice. All I can do is roll my eyes in reply. Not sure if he gets what I mean.
Begijnhof. If you're too lazy to look that up on the internet, I won't be arsed to tell you tomorrow.
5038 WL Tilburg
5038 WL Tilburg.
5038 BM Tilburg
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