Sunday, October 2, 2011
Belgium has Beaches?
As the weather is unusually nice in Belgium these days, yesterday I took a quick 35 minute train trip to the West Flanders coastal city of Oostende. Known for it's crowded beaches, we decided to then opt for a quieter beach and took the tram 20 minutes or so outside the city to a small town called De Haan. 'Cute' or 'fairytale' might appropriately describe this tiny town. The beach itself was quite nice. The Belgians, being comical in their beachgoing nuances, erect large partitions to shield themselves from the wind, making the beach look like a maze. The October water was borderline swimmable...you just have to jump in at this point or it is a bit of a cold and painful process.
The social hilarity of this beach for me is seen in the the sellers. In contrast to Barcelona, with it's thai massages and guys making mojitos out of backpacks (immigrants in both cases just trying to make some money), here you get a definitively Belgian baker in a full on white bakers suit with whistle selling rolls! In the summer, reportedly they are even selling Belgian style fries. I'm not sure if it says something about the amount of immigrants or available jobs in Belgium, or maybe just the high expectations the Belgians have to seem for what is socially acceptable in their society, but a funny sight nonetheless.
In contrast to De Haan, Oostende is a city of some size. The waterfront is full of seafood sellers. Not to mention escargot stews! Yum. And good waffles. A nice water promenade, and even a sizable center area with a big cathedral. You know you've been in Europe too long when you see this cathedral and you say 'Meh...just another cathedral...'
Lovely wind blocking partitions:
Laura and Monika, enjoying a mix of lobster, shrimp, and crab:
Stewed snails! My first time trying snails...chewy...