Candes Saint-Martin, my favourite spot in La Touraine.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Getting the feel of the place

I arrived in Ostend on Thursday, June 9th at around 11.30 a.m. My taxi dropped me off at the hotel and the driver was kind enough to carry my luggage in. As check-in wasn't until 3 p.m. I left my bags in the hotel storage room and set off for my first walk along the beach promenade to get a feel of the place, enjoy the sun (the weather was surprisingly mild, with hardly any wind and a calm sea) and find a place to have lunch.

I walked in the direction of the port and the Visserskaai (Fishermen's wharf), shooting photos and observing people. It was a very nice walk and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I saw some famous landmarks on my way - more about that later. 

This statue facing the sea and honouring the fishermen who died at sea is the most famous landmark of Ostend ... and a favourite look-out spot for the many seagulls.
Click to enlarge.

At some point the promenade makes a 90° turn east and before you lies the Visserskaai, with on one side the entrance to the port with a small semi-open fish market, the North Sea aquarium and the lock through which the sailing yachts enter the docks further inland. The fishing port is on the other side of the port entrance and not visible from this point. The sidewalk across the road is lined with cafes and restaurants. By the time I got there, the terraces had started filling up with hungry tourists.

I walked up and down twice, checking out the menu cards, the general infrastructure and people sipping coffee, beer, a glass of wine or a soft drink while studying the menu. Prices for an standard menu consisting of a starter and a main course varied from 19 to 35 euros. The offer was quite similar: fish soup, shrimp croquettes, salads, two baby Dover soles with french fries, lobster, mussels and the odd meat course - steak with a choice of sauces (warm and cold), fries and a salad.

I had a hard time deciding which place to chose. Then I realized that it was almost 12.30 p.m. and that I felt rather thirsty. I wasn't ready to make a choice, though and walked down a narrow street leading inland, where I found a nice square with a small outdoor market in full swing. 

Market square.

The sidewalk terraces had a really French look and feel, and I decided to have a cool beer before deciding where to have my lunch. After all, being on vacation, I had all the time in the world. Especially as most restaurants took orders till 2.30 p.m.!


chm said...

I can't remember if it was Ostend or Blankenberge I went to when I was in Bruges some eighty years ago, but it was probably the latter. I was very impressed by Bruges and thought, and still think it is a beautiful city.
Looking forward to your adventures!

The Broad said...

Bonne vacances, Martine! Been to Ostend once -- landed from Britain and then the train to Brussels -- a very long time ago!

Bob said...

Nice way to start your vacation. Lunch sounded delicious especially since I love seafood!!! Obviously the market/square is nothing like The Place in Brussels!!!

Carolyn said...

You're making me thirsty for a good Belgian beer.

VirginiaC said...

Small outdoor market in full swing...what a great find!!!

ladybird said...

Chm, I'm almost ashamed to admit it, but I've been to Bruges only once and I didn't even visit the town's centre. It was a school trip and I must have been 8 or 9. We visited the fairground and dolphin show in the Boudewijnpark. Well, maybe next year ... who knows.

Kathy, the Ostend airfield is small but practical. It came in very handy after the bomb attacks of March 22nd. Really big liners can't use it, though.

Bob, Lol - the square was nothing like The Place in Brussels, but it was very lively and I enjoyed sitting on the sidewalk terrace with a cool beer, watching the world go by.

Caroyn, I had a Jupiler (draught) and it was really refreshing. Wish I could send you one!

Virginia, I love outdoor markets, especially the food stalls with fresh produce. Although this one could never equal the markets and products one can find in France.