We travel not to escape life, but for the life not to escape us.
Ostend on the Blustery Belgium Shore
OSTEND, BELGIUM - This was one of those day trips that you wished had lasted longer. My friend, Diane, and I had traveled to Belgium to explore the medieval city of Brugge, with the fairytale feel of the canals, swans and cobblestoned streets. We decided mid-week to take a break and head to Ostend, coastal city in West Flanders, for the day. We hopped on an early train and less than a half hour later, after passing through the beautiful countryside of Flanders, we got off the train at our destination.
There was a lot of construction going on at the train station, so after taking a quick look inside the building to see what they were up to, we turned to head toward the city. The very first thing we saw was an immense church greeting us in all its architectural elegance. And, just at that moment, a horse and buggy passed in front. It was a picture perfect moment and wonderful first impression of the city.
The Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul is the main church in Ostend that we were viewing. There are 4 others. The spires of this breathtaking Neo-Gothic Roman Catholic church reach 72 meters high. The previous church on this site was burned to ashes and construction of this church began in 1899 and was completed in 1908. The original stained glass windows that were destroyed during the World Wars were replaced by new windows designed by Michiel Martens.
To the left was the marina and a large ship with 3 masts. This was a restored sailing ship from the early 1900s called the Zeilship Mercator, now a museum.
We crossed a small bridge over the locks where we watched a sail boat pass to the ocean, the locks opening and closing, water falling and rising, the sail boat finally made its way to the ocean and we followed the locks to the waterfront park.
There was a large cement area that was a flurry of activity. Families watched their children race mini-pedaling vehicles, racing in circles and through the waters of the fountain. As a backdrop, a large red sculpture installation contrasted against the blue of the water and sky.
There was a never ending wind, but the sun peeking out from behind billowing clouds gave us some warmth. We walked toward the beach and watched the waves crash to shore. A father and his son flew a kite on the beach, while lovers strolled hand in hand away from the crowds. The beach felt empty in a city that was alive. Out on the breakwater, we looked back at a panoramic view of the city.
Following a lovely and relaxing late lunch at a restaurant overlooking the promenade, we headed to the church we had seen when we first arrived and took a look inside before heading to catch the return train. There was so much more to see, but we didn't have the time. After an afternoon of sea air and the sound of waves crashing to shore, we returned ready to continue to wander the cobblestone streets and the medieval city of Brugge.
Population: Approx. 70,994
Places to see:
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