This five-day Tour is the first in 2024, and is celebrating Podge's Belgian Beer Tours Tours 30th anniversary, as our first tour was in 1994. For this special Tour we are based at the fabulous luxury Hotel Park in the city of Kortrijk. This has always been a great city for beer and it's been a while since we stayed here. Recently, I've had a number of good reports from Travellers on the beer cafes of Kortrijk, which go from strength to strength, so I thought I'd take you there. The hotel is lovely and the last time we were there they had a special egg chef in the breakfast restaurant and there was a Belgian cycling team staying there (who ate their own breakfasts from little bags!). The hotel has a swimming pool for the use of all hotel guests and a Wellness Spa too. The city of Kortrijk is famed for the Battle of the Golden Spurs, a one day fight between France and the rebellious Flemish on 11 July 1302. The big thing is, rather unexpectedly, the Flemish won, and are pretty proud of it too, even today! There are plenty of beers referring to the golden spurs (worn by the hated French) and we will sample the beers of Kortrijk. The military historian in Siobhan will take Travellers to see the site of the famoous battle in a park in town, and also the place where the golden spurs still hang up as trophies.
A special visit is planned for this special Tour. We are going to Train World! This is the national train museum of Belgium opened in 2015 which brings all national historical rail assets together. A little-known fact is that Belgium was the first country mainland Europe to open a public railway in 1835. This collection is situated in Brussels inside the beautiful nineteenth century Schaerbeek station, an imposing ‘streaky bacon’ building. It covers 8,000 square meters and includes:
Steam-powered locomotive ‘The Atlantic’ which broke the record for speed in 1939 by attaining 120km per hour.
The showpiece, the oldest locomotive in continental Europe, Le Pays de Waes, dating from 1845.
21 other locos!
A postal wagon and a restaurant wagon.
A wagon decorated by Belgian surrealist artist Paul Delvaux.
An original metal rail viaduct bridge from Namur, originally spanning the River Meuse (Du. Maas) which now serves as a raised platform for the public to walk over.
An original railway watchman’s house.
The beautiful green NMBS/SNCB Type 12 Atlantic 4-4-2 class steam locomotive dating from 1938–1939. This was built for the fast lightweight Ostend boat trains operated by Belgian National Railways.
The lovely opulent ticket hall of Schaerbeek station which is now an exhibition space.
Within the complex is a nice comfy café called Filousophe which offers snacks and full meals and, of course, has a great beer list of 30 or so, with about a dozen on tap. Some good ones here too, including local Zinnebier from de la Senne brewery.
The beer on this Tour will be excellent, as Kortrijk has many breweries around the ring-road including the incomparable Feniks Brewery who brew Jazz Oatmeal Stout - and we'll visit them for a brewery tasting. Such is the quantity and quality of the breweries encircling this city, all within easy reach, that when we conceived a prototype of this Tour a few yrears ago, Podge wanted to call it "The Kortrijk Ring-Road Tour", but the marketing department wouldn't agree to this title! Anyhow, we'll travel a bit further than this to find some new breweries I have in mind and some great beer cafes, including plenty we have not taken the group to before. Do join us.
We are based in Chelmsford in Essex and we use Le Shuttle (Eurotunnel) from Folkestone to get to and from Belgium in our UK hired coach. Most of our Travellers join the Tour at our main pick up point outside The Woolpack Pub, 23 Mildmay Road, Chelmsford CM2 0DN and most come from other parts of the UK, and some from further afield, especially USA. Lots of our Travellers stay the night before a Tour (and often the night of our return) at Chelmsford Travelodge only a few minutes walk from The Woolpack or at the Premier Inn near the Railway Station, about a 10 minute walk to the pick up point at The Woolpack. We all usually pop in to The Woolpack the night before departure for a meet, greet and a few beers with Siobhan who is your Tour Manager, Tour Guide and drinking pal for the duration.
Our Galloways luxury coach (49 seater coach with toilet) starts from Suffolk and on the way to Folkestone (or occasionally Dover) picks up at several points, as agreed with Siobhan, as below:
Ipswich, Bus Stop, Tesco Store, Pinewood, Ipswich IP8 3TS.
Colchester, McDonald's, Tollgate West, Stanway, Colchester C03 8RG
Chelmsford, The Woolpack, 23 Mildmay Road, CM2 0DN.
Dartford, BP Garage (formerly Esso) 474 Princes Road, DA1 1YT. On the return leg we drop off at Dartford Railway Station DA1 1DR
Swanley, Unit 4, Moreton Industrial Estate, London Road, BR8 8DE.
Ashford, pull in Outside Dobbies Garden Centre, Opposite Premier Inn, Ashford Eureka Leisure Park, Rutherford Road, Ashford, Kent, TN25 4BN.
Folkestone, Shell Garage, Stop 24 Services, J11, M20, Kent, CT21 4BL.
Stationsplein, Adinkerke, Belgium.
The crossing times we usually go for are the 09.20hr Le Shuttle (Eurotunnel) from Folkestone and the 19.50hrs from Calais, so we arrive back in Folkestone at 19.30hrs UK time.
This Tour is currently being built so keep an eye on this web page or subscribe to our monthly email newsletter for updates - there is a form to do this at the foot of this page. The final detailed and timed itinerary will be posted here at least four weeks prior to departure. If you would like to join us please send Siobhan an email or call on +44 (0) 7722 724 558 for details on how to secure a place and pay the £155pp deposit for this Tour, or if you have any questions about this Tour. Should your plans change, we are happy to return your deposit to you in full provided the date of the return request is more than six weeks before the departure date of the Tour.
We regret that we need to charge a single supplement for travellers who would like their own hotel room. This is because increasingly hotel room prices are quoted with very little difference between single person or two person occupancy.
Hotel accommodation and breakfasts;
Hotel city taxes;
Luxury coach travel on a 49 seater coach with toilet;
All brewery visits, tours and brewery beer tastings;
Entrance fees to attractions, museums and historical sites;
All items marked with an asterisk above and on the individual detailed tour itinerary when issued;
Copies of Podge’s City Bar Guides and Maps for the town where we stay or spend some time;
Still and sparkling water on the coach;
Pick up from one of our agreed joining points on the way to Folkestone or even on the other side of the channel.
Courier Services from Siobhan McGinn, your Tour Guide.
Travellers are responsible for the costs of all food and drink apart from items marked with an asterisk on the detailed itinerary plus all passport and insurance costs.
All itinerary times are local and approximate.
Personal insurance is not included in the Tour price but is required to be taken out by Travellers on Podge's Belgian Beer Tours, as is carrying the free UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) which is the 2021 replacement for the old EHIC. You can still use your EHIC card so long as it is in date, then you need to apply for the GHIC replacement online.
All Tours are subject to our Terms and Conditions.