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A pilgrimage to Belgium’s top monastic breweries

The Belgians take their beer seriously, and none more so than the Trappist monks. William Little makes a pilgrimage to the country’s top monastic breweries

Brother Jules is angry. He is looking at his watch in agitation and gripping a wrench tightly. I’ve arrived in Achel, one of Belgium’s six Trappist breweries (the only other one in the world is just across the border in Holland), as part of a pilgrimage across the country to appreciate its fine beers and the monastic way of life. Yet just over half-way through day one, I’ve discovered that the monks’ secretive life also extends to road signs to their holy homes – there aren’t any. I’ve been driving up and down pretty country roads, becoming increasingly lost, and it has made me late by an hour-and-a-half. Brother Jules is less than impressed.

My interpreter, Lucien Jans, a guide from the nearby 16th-century castle Ter Dolen, where I will spend tonight, is using his best Flemish to calm Jules down. Jans tells me that the monks lead such an ordered and secluded life that they don’t necessarily appreciate any difficulties in finding the place. Brother Jules, a former baker who became a monk when his wife died eight years ago, was put in the brewery because he knows a thing or two about yeast – an essential part of the beer-making process – and his annoyance fades as he gets on to the intricacies of this.

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The new Tripadvisor site is online: a retail look and feel!

You can have a sneak preview at the new Tripadvisor site by browsing this beta” microsite that TA globally announced today in its newsletter.

The user-generated reviews’ giant Tripavisor (part of the Expedia, Inc. family of travel companies), decided to “create a new and easier to use” site. Kristen Nicole from Mashable previously published an article saying that people have complained about the cluttered homepage of the (curent) site.

Look at those “before-after” screenshots I took and make your own opinion:

Tripadvisor before and after screenshot

A typical WEB 2.0 launch for this new version: As it has been said by Tripadvisor: It is a beta site! “Beta” means [Tripadvisor] is still polishing a few things! This beta version was first launched on the co.uk site of TA a few days ago, and it is now for everyone to REVIEW!

I have noticed myself a few mistakes in the list of countries/cities of the Europe section, like Lisbon listed under Romania(!), Rome in Latvia (!), Venice in Luxembourg (!) etc. Travolution commenters spotted those mistakes and considered that even if “it will be sorted soon” still “it reflects poorly”.

Tim Hughes thinks the beta version of Tripadvisor looks like a retail travel site. Did Tripadvisor hide the business side of their “free review site” on purpose? It’s hard to believe, as ads were everywhere in the previous version (text ad links called sponsored links and flash ads). Does Tripadvisor think it will convert better if it has the “look and feel” of a retail website (now that they are famous for being review website)? I guess so!

Take a look at a full review of this new design written by Alex (Travel UCD).

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