12 January, 2008

Our Visit to Abbaye Notre-Dame d'Orval

Today Paula and I took a drive to the Orval Abbaye. We found out it was less than an hour from our flat so we typed the address into the GPS and off we were, sort of. We could not find the exact address but got something close and started to drive. It was about 60 kilometers or so from our place (about 36 miles or so), most of it on the main motorway that takes us to all the main stops in Belgium (Arlon, Antwerp, Brussels, Brugge, etc.). Some of the trip was through the country on some smaller, curvy roads.

We arrived at Orval, just in time to get some lunch. When you arrive, you know you are there as you see a big, weathered old Orval sign pointing to the right. Down a long driveway there is the café to the left, a long row of parking spots to the right and up ahead, the Abbaye and all the related buildings. It is a rather large complex of buildings, not all of which are initially visible from the road.

We parked the car and headed into the café, A l'Ange Gardien, for some lunch and liquid refreshments. The café is nice and rustic inside with old wooden tables to sit at with little bench seats that look like they were from an old church school or from the Abbaye itself as they have little crosses engraved in the legs. There is a warming fire place in the corner of the main room that was glowing and heating us. The room we were in was fairly full at the time we arrived, with a few tables of 10 ore more people each, along with some side tables of 2 and 3 people sitting, eating and drinking.

Paula and I both started off with the Orval 3,5 beer (or Petite Orval) as I knew it. I believe this is the monks standard beer that they would drink during the day as it is lower in alcohol than the standard Orval which sits at 6,2% abv.

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