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

Friday, 17 June 2016

Why I went to Ostend

If this time last year someone had told me that I would be spending a short vacation in Ostend in 2016, I would have declared that person mad as a march hare. At the time I was of course still enjoying the happy memories of my Corfu adventure.

In fact, I was already planning a second visit of the island in 2016. Late November I went to the travel agency to book a 10-day stay at the Kontokali hotel - the same hotel as in 2015. Back home I called my ex-SIL who lives in Corfu to tell her I would be visiting her again end of May. She seemed pleased but immediately told me that she was looking for another job on the Greek mainland. In fact, at that precise moment she was on a boat to Thessaloniki to see a man who would help her find a job in one of the big hotels over there. If it worked out, she would be moving before Christmas!

To make a long story short, she did indeed move in December and I've never heard from her since. Both her mobile phone and landline have been cut off ... I made some inquiries, but she seems to have vanished from the face of the earth. I just hope she is OK and nothing bad has happened to her.

There I was, with a 10 day reservation on an island where I didn't know a living soul. All of a sudden the whole plan seemed less appealing. I also felt that my mother wasn't too happy about the idea of me going off on my own, with nobody to turn to in case of an emergency. So I cancelled my trip and brooded several weeks over an alternative. I didn't want to spend my yearly vacation, staying at home like I did in 2014. So I considered several options, one of which was Malta, where I spent a lovely fortnight in 1983 with my late husband, a few months before he was killed in a car accident.

Okay, I can hear you thinking "But you don't know a living soul there either." And of course, you are right. Plus, taking a plane from Brussels' airport suddenly seemed less appealing after the savage bomb attacks. It wasn't so much that I was scared to go to the airport and take a plane. It was more the severe, yet necessary security checks and endless queues that put me off.

The Belgian coast looked like a nice alternative. I considered several resorts: Knokke, Heist, Duinbergen, ... places I had been to with my mother in the sixties. And then I thought of Ostend. My last visit goes back to 1982. My late husband and I had just bought a new car and couldn't afford an expensive vacation abroad. So we booked this place, near the port of Ostend. It was a dump, but at least it had a large garage in which we could park our precious new car, a cherry-red Opel Kadett, btw. 

This is what the place looks like dd June 2016.
The old garage is all boarded up. The rest of the building still seems to be occupied,
 judging by the net curtains. I don't think it 
still is a hotel, though.

On one of our walks on the beach promenade, we came across this hotel. It was brand-new and 'you could almost smell the fresh paint' (as Rose said in the film Titanic).

My room was located on the third floor (white dot).

It looked awfully expensive. We were pretty young then and stood in awe before so much luxury. We swore that one day we would, when we could afford it, spend a night in this grand hotel. It wasn't to be ...

But this year I kept that 34 years ago made promise. I spent 5 nights in one of the recently renovated rooms - and yes, you could almost smell the fresh paint! 


chm said...

Too bad you had to cancel your vacation in Corfu. Of course, it's not next door and I understand your Mother's concern especially since you did't know anybody there anymore. But, as I said before, I'm glad you enjoyed your stay in Ostend. Any plans for your upcoming retirement yet?

Bob said...

glad to hear you were able to fulfill the promise. how is you Mom doing?

Ken Broadhurst said...

I hope you had some decent weather in Ostend, Martine. Sometimes it is soothing to revisit old familiar places. I know I enjoy doing that in Paris. And in North Carolina.

VirginiaC said...

I hope that you hear from your ex-SIL soon and that she is okay.
It was so nice that you kept that promise made so many years ago...I'm sure your husband was with you in spirit and that he enjoyed the stay with you.

ladybird said...

Chm, I don't regret my decision to visit Ostend, on the contrary. As for my retirement ... the news is good, but I don't want to jinx it ... more in August!

Bob, Mum is fine. The situation is under control right now, but we need to follow it up ...

Ken, Like you said, it is nice to revisit places of which you hold fond and warm memories, even if they are a bit sad. It felt good.

Virginia, I'm worried about my ex-SIL because she can be a bit impulsive and has been in trouble before. But there is nothing I can do about it. Hope to hear from her soon. And I'm glad I have kept my promise too.