We left Ghent at about 10 am (are you sensing a pattern here?) to cloudy skies and forecasts of rainy weather all day. So we put on all our rain gear and covers before even starting out. The first few hours of the ride, it was mostly just spitting rain. Just enough to make us glad we had rain gear on, but not enough to soak us. Things seemed to be easing off by lunchtime.
Around noon, we came to the town of Berlare, where we encountered a little "eetcafe" that seemed quite popular with both locals and cyclists, so we stopped there to eat and warm up. Turned out to be a good choice, since the food was good and they had really excellent beer selection. I feel like I'm running out of time when as far as my Belgian beer education is concerned. There are so many interesting beers to try and only a finite amount of time (and liver). In any case, this afternoon seemed like as good a time as any to try Boon's Mariage Parfaite Geuse.
What a fine beer this is. I think I'm finally starting to "get" sour beers. Even so, I prefer it when the beer is well balanced, and this was a very well-rounded beer. But I didn't take the Belgian cyclist's advice of buying a Duvel tripel and putting it in my water bottle for the road!
After lunch, the weather took a turn for the worse, and we were getting rained on more than at any other time on our trip. Even so, it wasn't a soaking. And we realized that we didn't have all that far to go to get to our hotel in Buggenhout. But just as we arrived in town, we saw that there was a kreik and lambic beer tasting put on by the local beer club. Such serendipity is the stuff that great vacations are made of. After inquiring, we went inside and had some very nice samples of lambics and I chatted with the president of the club (whose name was also Peter... or Pieter, I assume).
Since we still had a few kilometres to ride, I couldn't stay there all afternoon, so we left in search of our hotel, which turned out to be only 4 or 5 km away. We don't normally splurge for 4-star hotels, but this was basically the only place in between Ghent and Mechelen, and it looked nice, so what the heck. We are almost the only people here, it being a Sunday, so we had the bar and pool table to ourselves.
So even though the riding weather wasn't quite as kind as it has been, we still managed to have quite a nice day. Certainly, arriving to a luxury hotel makes things a lot easier. Tomorrow is our last long ride. Kind of hard to believe this amazing trip is coming to an end.