After a busy day trip to Bruges, we set out to see the North Sea and Testerep (or Ter Streep). So we headed out to Ostend in Belgium. Guided by GPS, we quickly drove over to our new destination. There, we woke up in a real urban agglomeration, with silent buildings, boulevards, and plenty of cars: a true industrial city. We hardly found an empty spot to leave the car in the underground parking by the promenade.
Soon enough, I understood why the city looked so busy: almost everyone around us was speaking in French, although we were in a town in the Flemish side where you don’t normally understand the language unless you’re a citizen or spent plenty of time studying it. But Ostend in Belgium is pretty close to the French border, and that is why so many French families came with their cars to visit the city on that Sunday afternoon.
This swarm of people filled the restaurants and crowded the promenade food stands to buy fresh fish and seafood, prepared in different ways on the spot. In our group, we had just one fan, and he enjoyed a large portion of oysters seasoned with some lemon juice. And he adored them!
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The port of Ostend in Belgium
Located in a very busy maritime area, the port of Ostend in Belgium is over 400 years old. Once the engine gradually transformed the city, today it is still a perfect host to a wide variety of coastal sailing vessels that transport both goods and passengers.
Here, we saw small to medium-sized fishing boats and lots of sailboats anchored by the docks. We also spotted the ferry boat that had just arrived from Ramsgate, UK.
While you’re here, make time to visit Amandine Museum Ship. Then drop by the Tourist office Oostende (passing through Kapellestraat and Wapenplein Square) and get some local suggestions for what you should visit in the city these days.
The North Sea near Ostend in Belgium
Although we had established eye contact with the sea and we smelled the sea creatures that were sizzling on grills and pans or boiling in pots, we actually got to see the North Sea after we left Ostend in Belgium.
We crossed the road that ran parallel to the shore and passed through a very beautiful residential area with new, tall buildings that had generous windows looking at the sea and the Belgian coast.
The promenade near Ostend in Belgium is high and steep, and big waves came crashing from the sea, despite being low tide. There were many people on the deserted Ostend beach by the water. The distance or perhaps the vastness of the sea, made them look like little ants.
The view is magnificent. You don’t even care about the wind that’s howling in your ears so loud you have to shout to speak to others.
Many years ago, when I visited Den Haag (The Hague), I found out how cold the water of the North Sea was. It was August then, too, just like when we visited Ostend in Belgium. I got tricked by the high number of locals that were swimming at sea, so I took off my shoes to dip my toes in the water. It felt like I had been thrown in a freezer! So this time I knew better and kept to dry land.
De Kusstram, the Flemish Coastal Tram
De Kusstram or the Flemish Coastal Tram runs along the Belgian coast, spreading almost all the way from the French border to the border with the Netherlands, Ostend being about halfway. This tram line that is parallel to the road is the longest in the world, measuring 68 kilometers. And the ride offers wonderful views towards the vastness of the North Sea’s dark waters!
We traveled about 10 kilometers in the direction of France, to take a closer look at what’s left of the World War II bunkers that are all over the rocky hills by the road. Unfortunately, we were too short on time to explore the underground fortifications of one of the best-preserved parts of the Atlantic Wall. It is actually a museum in itself: the Museum of the Atlantic Wall or the Grand Bunker.
As the evening approached fast, we headed back to our headquarters in Ghent. We took a secondary road and admired the friendly landscape until darkness fell.
Doina Văduva is the mother of Mirela, The Travel Bunny. The two share musical names: while Mirela’s name is composed of musical notes, Doina is actually a song of longing in the Romanian folklore, unique for our country.
Now a retired engineer, Doina is enjoying her newly-discovered free time by catching up with her reading and exploring the world with my dad.
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