Winter Warmer: Belgium & England via the Chunnel Train
February 9 - 17, 2012
If Belgium makes a strong case for being "beer heaven", then England would have to be pub heaven. From your first beer in Brussels until the last in London, you will experience a wide variety of classic breweries and their great beers in optimum condition. Three nights in Brugge, an overnight pilgrimage to an English Country Inn in the Cotswolds, and 3 nights in London offer a variety of great beer, cozy cafes and pubs, and cultural experiences. There is time to explore on your own and take in each country's rich history and culture as well. Several great meals, visits to unique and historic breweries, transportation by rail, private coach and public means, fine hotels in great locations and more are built in to this trip.
Thursday, February 9, 2012 - Fly to Brussels, Belgium
Travel to Belgium!
Day 2, Friday - Arrive Brussels, rail to Brugge, City Tour, Welcome Dinner
Upon arrival in Brussels, transfer via rail directly to Brugge -- taxis are easily available for the short ride to our hotel in the center of this spectacular medieval city. After time to settle in, we'll meet our local guide for a guided tour of Brugge. Along the way we'll stop for a welcome beer or two. Tonight we have our welcome dinner featuring fine Belgian cuisine matched with the perfect beer.
Day 3, Saturday - Free Day in Brugge
Today is totally free to enjoy Brugge and its many splendors. Many great cafes, museums and attractions await your discovery. Brugge is one of the best cities anywhere to just wander around, and uh, stumble upon a beer or two in historic environs.
Day 4, Sunday - Brewery Visits on the Beer Bus, to Brussels
This morning we'll board our private "beer bus" for a big day of breweries, tasting, and lunch. We'll start with a visit to De Dolle, the mad brewers, who brew up artistic creative beers. We'll hear the story of the brewery and the town, tour the old brewery and enjoy a thorough tasting in one of the best tasting rooms anywhere! Next we continue south to Westvleteren and In de Vrede, the restaurant adjacent to the off-limits abbey. We'll eat lunch and sample the heavenly elixir brewed in small batches by the brothers of Sint Sixtus Abbey. As if that weren't enough, another afternoon stop to be determined. We will spend the night right next to Brussels midi to make it easy to catch our Eurostar train to London the next morning.
Day 5, Monday - Chunnel Train to London
This morning, bright and early we will travel via rail, beneath the English Channel, to England. We will meet our private coach, depart London, and travel to the Sun, a traditional country pub serving great meals. After lunch we head to Hook Norton Brewery for a visit to their Victorian brewhouse. Overnight in the Cotswolds.
Day 6, Tuesday - Brewery Visit, to London
This morning is free to explore, sightsee or shop until we board the bus and head to London. Along the way we'll visit a brewery and make a pub lunch stop. Upon arrival in London, we'll check-in to the hotel and take a break for dinner. This evening we'll take a historic pub tour and seek out some of London's new and bourgeoning beer scene.
Day 7, Wednesday - Free Day in London
Today is completely free to explore and enjoy cosmopolitan London. See a show, visit pubs, ride red buses, go to Buckingham Palace or take in the Tate Museum. Small groups will likely form in search of beer, culture and curry.
Day 8, Thursday - Fullers Brewery , London Pubs, Farewell Dinner
This morning we will tour the Fuller's brewery. The afternoon is free, most likely for a pub visit or two. This evening we will have a farewell beer dinner and enjoy the fine cellars and selection at the Whitehorse. Overnight in London.
Day 9, Friday - Return Home or Extend your trip
Alas, we must leave beer heaven. London is served by several international airports, so a variety of transfer options will be available.
The overall style of the trip is best suited for somewhat adventurous, beer-loving travelers who want the camaraderie and structure of a tour, as well as the opportunity to explore independently. Planned events and excursions will, for the most part, be informal. Guided touring is generally the exception, though travelers can always rely on the support and assistance of the trip leader.
* Please note also:
This itinerary is subject to change based on brewery or hotel availability, force majeur, acts of dieties, common sense or bad weather, etc. Smaller breweries, as well as the Trappists, are often unable to commit to hosting groups until a couple of weeks before we arrive. Substitutions, when necessary, will be as good or better than what we replaced. And, don't worry, the beer is always good!