Ostend, Belgium. A place to rest and to enjoy life.
We all love vacations. It is a rest for your body, but it is mostly a rest for your mind. You forget about everyday problems you have and your mind is switched to a "Lazy functioning".
I am waiting impatiently for the next holidays even if I did not finish this one.
Ostend is a small town with a population just around 90000 inhabitants which becomes crowded with people in a summer season. Usually it is a place for Belgian who come to have a weekend on a picturesque sea shore. I also met people from France, Germany and the Netherlands. Numerous tourists from the United Kingdom come here as well looking for a warmer place than the river Thames. Probably the North Sea shore is not so much interesting for those who live farther to the South. It is often windy in Ostend, the weather can change very quickly and the sea is mostly cold. But those who come here are not looking for the sunny beaches; they look for a rest and pacification.
My first visit to Ostend was 8 years ago and I was deeply impressed by a quiet and calm life there. Now I visited it again and was again impressed by the stability of the feeling I had 8 years ago. It is as calm and peaceful and it was before. The town seems to be frozen in time. Almost no new construction sites, the same famous flower clock in a city park, tourists wandering along of the longest promenade in Europe and the Sea. The North Sea seems to be different in different season but in summer it is not a roaring creature, it is a welcoming host which gladly accepts people from all over the world.
Multi-storied buildings in the first line of the shore are a rare exception in city architecture. These houses are not for living. They are empty almost all year round but in summer crowds of happy kids with parents come there, go to the beach and start to build sand castles.
Most of the town consists of old buildings which can proudly tell you their long history of life. The old houses are preserved carefully to keep the spirit of an old town with old traditions. You can see it on the example of a small building “Spanish Inn” built in 1729 and rebuilt in 1958.
Some streets are so narrow that do not even have a bicycle road. Of course Ostend can not be compared with for example Bruges, which is much more picturesque but it also a very charming place.
If you do not care about old buildings and if you are not an architect in your heart you may find a cozy armchair in a café facing the sea and enjoy the view of waves sipping coffee and doing nothing. Do you remember the last time you were doing nothings? Let me guess…. Probably it was long, long ago. The same with me. I was doing nothing and was absolutely happy about it.
All life and staying in Ostend makes your thinking lazy and slow… Sometime it is just necessary to get rid of the mobile phone and enjoy another reality -a life without rat race and everyday calls and obligations.
If you are a fan of active sports welcome to Ostend as well! Rent – a – bike places are all over the sea line and you can travel by bike alone or to fool around taking a monster bike for 5-6 peoples.
Strong winds here on the coast of Belgium makes this place a very attractive place for parasurfers and their fans. Every year they have several spectacular competitions here. It is worth seeing and admiring.
A free river tram can take you to another side of an Ostend Harbour. The trip is short and you can cherish dreams of crossing the channel some day and visiting United Kingdom which is just 50 miles away.
The time seems to stop here. Wonderful yachts in a harbor of Ostend seems to stay there all the time but if you are lucky you may see how they draw bridges to let the yacht go into the open Sea.
The biggest attraction of the harbor in Ostend is a yacht “Merkator”. It is a three-masted sailing ship which was used for a training of sailors. Now it is a nautical museum which carefully preserved original interior.
I was in Ostend with my 10 years old son and surprisingly he had a good time too. At least he said he would like to come there again. Numerous activities are arranged for children in a summer time. Every day kids who like LEGO could come and build a LEGO palace or to go to one of a numerous museums around the town, to go to a “Sea Life” aquarium, or visit an “Earth Explorer” attraction for children. Numerous leaflets inform you about all events organized in a town both for children and adults.
Every Monday evening in the summer time you can be among the audience of those who come to Ostend to enjoy summer festivals of fireworks. Different teams from all parts of the country compete on their ability to make a better firework. Amazing and worth seeing!
If you think you have already nothing to do in Ostend you can always take a 20 minute ride by a train to Bruges – a northern Venice. The town does not stand in water like Venice but has numerous channels. The excursion over the channels is cheap but absolutely marvelous!
Another attraction of Ostend is a tram which goes along the sea shore and actually connects France and Netherlands via Belgium. This train line is remarkable by the fact that it is one of the longest tram line in Europe and its route covers 68 km and has 70 stops.
Ostend is a real must-come-and-see place. If you do not believe- come and see, rest and enjoy!