October 14, 2010 by jessperriam
The epic adventure is hard to collate into some semblance of ‘this is what happened and how’.
When I see people, they ask me how it was.
And I smile and nod like an idiot and say, “It was really, really amazing and awesome. You should do it sometime.”
“So… where did you go Jess?”
That’s where I reel off a whole list of seemingly incongruent countries. And the next question I can expect like clockwork.
“So what was Albania like?”
Which I respond with the dumbest answer ever:
Well, the beer is really, really cheap there.
Kid you not, nine times out of ten I will say that first. And I don’t know why. There are far more interesting things that happened in Albania.
Beer isn’t even my first love (it gets the bronze medal behind coffee and red wine). But it is the handiest tool to use to compare countries. Every country has a brewery.
So here’s my beer-by-beer breakdown of my trip:
- Beer isn’t too expensive, comes in garishly traditional pubs. But we love them so, just as they are.
- I went to a beer festival at the Earls Court Exhibition Centre. That was nice, you could take a trip around the UK in a pint glass. But bloody hell, the old men with beer gut factor was on.
- There was the question of having a Leffe shandy in lieu of a Pimms once. That was odd in a good way, I admire their adventurous spirit.
Yes, they have a brewery in the Faroe Islands – it’s near Klaksvik (now I have their rowing team song stuck in my head). But being the ever delightful hostess with the mostess, Karolina took me to a bar in Torshavn and convinced the boys behind the counter that I should have a wee taster of each and every Faroese beer they had on tap. I was rather impressed with it all. See what they do at Föroya Bjór.
I only drank two beers in Egypt. One ‘beer’ was a zero percent Becks in Aswan. I think I’ve already expressed my disgust at the experience – suffice to say it’s all the bad taste of Becks with none of the boozy pay-off. So you lose on two fronts.
The second beer I had was a real, actual beer. And it was called Stella. But it’s not Stella Artois. It’s Stella. Egyptian Stella with a blue and yellow label. It’s not terribly awe inspiring, but if you’re craving a brewski in the middle of the Egyptian summer, then you’re not likely to be picky. But I do thoroughly blame the beer for clouding my judgement and eating a chicken dish in Luxor, which resulted in… unhappy belly times in the Western Desert.
Efes is Turkey’s beer of choice. But it’s not very effing good. But it’s readily available at cafes, supermarkets, restaurants… anywhere, everywhere. You drink Efes when you want to reminisce. I may or may not have consumed equal amounts of the stuff in Edinburgh and Perth.
I wasn’t lying when I said Albania’s beer was really cheap there. We’re talking around about 50 cents Australian. The beer itself is relatively non-expensive and when you’re done with the bottle, you return it to the store you bought it from and presumably they return them to the factory.
We also spied some 2 litre plastic bottles of beer on sale at the supermarkets, but we were way too cool for that.
I don’t remember much about the beer in Italy. I remember it was really hot, so we had to put the beer in the freezer in Rome. I think it was Peroni. But I could be clutching at straws. Clearly it wasn’t memorable.
You’re not in France if you’re not drinking Belgian beer. True story. I don’t think I had a drop of French beer the entire time I was there. Plenty of Leffe though. Oh we also had Heineken after talking a lot about the Heineken museum in Amsterdam. But nope, no French beer.
I pretty much went straight to the Guinness factory in Dublin. It’s one of those things that you don’t question, you just do. The heavy, heavy stout isn’t really my thing – I can’t comfortably get my way through a pint of the stuff. But there’s something magical about waiting for the beer to settle.
My favourite beer in Ireland is Smithwicks… commonly known as Kilkenny, here in Australia. Because they couldn’t call Kilkenny beer Kilkenny in Kilkenny. That’d just be odd. Or maybe not.
This is yet another (loosely linked) installment in Travel Tales Thursday.