along the belgian coast

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The Belgian coast seems endless: long and wide sand beaches, spacious promenades, huge buildings lining up like a barrier against the rough North Sea – which wasn’t by far so rough when we stayed there … It is a great beach to relax & recover from daily stress.

All along the coast there is a tram line called DE KUSTTRAM, about 66 km long – the longest tram line in the world – with 68 stops in between, covering all seaside villages and towns of Belgium. It became our favorite transport medium … for exploring Belgian seaside.

Facts: My better half & I made a trip to the Belgian coast for about 2 weeks end of September. We had fine weather, the temperature was about 15 – 20° C, lots of blue sky although sometimes populated w/ white, grey or dark clouds. It even rained sometimes, chiefly during the nights.

Obviously the season had already come to an end: there were no crowds, no traffic jams, free tables waiting for us in beach cafés … We enjoyed our trip & the fresh air!

Our headquarters was in Ostend (aka Oostende or Ostende). Within some minutes, about 3 stops w/ the tram, we were in the city & at Ostend’s port, after having left our small & high guest house (not at the beach, but somewhat more inland-ish). It was one of these typical houses you’ll find along the coast of Belgium & the Netherlands: 1 room at the ground floor, one at the 1st floor, one at the 2nd floor …

The most impressive part of Ostend wasn’t the port – at least for us -, but the cathedral w/ all the streets & alleyways around, not to forget the vast number of cafés, bistros, bars, restaurants … shops & more shops … We liked to stroll around leisurely.

A typical view of Ostend’s coastline shows not only the sandy beach, the promenade, the apartment buildings, but also the busy atmosphere: everywhere there are activities, to build new houses, renovate older ones, restore the face of a building. It’s not only in Ostend, but all over the coast we found developments like these.

Our trips w/ the tram let us discover the Belgian Pier in Blankenberge. Unfortunately we didn’t make it to Knokke because 2 weeks vanished into thin air in a flash. The access to the pier is also under construction at the moment. All over the beach you’ll find small beach cabins like the ones in our photo, however, normally they are lined up in straight rows.

There is De Haan an Zee, a small beach village, having maintained a more cosy flair. Especially at the promenade there aren’t these huge apartment houses, but only smaller ones, often restored, and lots of fine villas from the last century or even older.

In the south we made it by tram to Middelkerke, a modern counterpoint to De Haan an Zee. Instead of 3-5 storeys the apartment houses have about 10 storeys.

Nevertheless it’s quite refreshing walking along the beach, if in the sandy part or on the promenade. The air is fresh & sometimes it’s a little stormy. The sky is blue, the sun is glaring … You may walk for miles & miles, have some coffee or a nice glass of wine, relax & restart … Finally you end up in the tram taking you home.

The beach in the south is as nice as in the north … There are lonely sections where there is only sky, dunes, sand & the sea. There are areas between coast villages where to find these pure coast spots which may sprawl for some kilometers.

Sometimes we found gems … just in between 2 huge apartment houses there is this meticulously restored face of an older house at the promenade.

… & of course there are dreams of modern architecture!

We made a day trip to Bruges (aka Brugge or Brügge) – a dream of a town which was founded in 1128 based on earlier villages from the 2nd & 3rd century. During the Middle Ages the town prospered and became an European trade centre for the next centuries.

(I admit that 1 day in Bruges isn’t enough … we’d have returned if we had another week …)

Bruges ist full of historic buildings, churches, small alleyways … Lots of photo moments to capture!

We liked to eat at home, do some cooking – but once we had a big bowl of fresh mussels in white wine!

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keep it simple & be flexible. always.