Wednesday, 30 July 2014

If it's Thursday, this still must be Belgium (2 days in Middelkerke)

Beach. Windy. Not wheelchair-accessible.

Following a recommendation of my hotel's receptionist, I eat dinner at La Tempete.  
Bouillabaisse a la Mer du nord
The food is good (closer to France, I guess), but the waitress/owner is a bit snippy. When I order the appetizer Bouillabaisse, she grabs the menu from me, points at another page with a Bouillabaisse for double the price, and admonishes me for not ordering "a real meal".  Anyhoo, the appetizer proves more than adequate in size and taste, but I can't say that I felt comfortable eating here; too much under the watchful evil eye, I guess.

Just a few weeks ago, a friend and I had a discussion about the Lucky Luke comics. First of all: they're French/Belgian, being drawn by the same guy(s) who did Asterix & Obelix.  Second of all:  In the new Lucky Luke comics delivered and read in Canada, Luke chews on a blade of grass, or a straw, or whatever, but not on a cigarette like he used to.  Cycling along the promenade, I am stopped dead in my track but this sight.  Luke, the stupid dog, and the non-stupid Dalton brother and Luke is SMOKING !

He still smokes in these parts ;-)

Oh Belgians, what have you done to your coast?

tide lines

my version of The Scream

Time to go to bed in my hotel.

At first I suspect my hotel (vacation rentals actually) is designed for the elderly wheelchair-bound guest, since there is not a single stair in sight. Add to that emergency push buttons, wheel-chair-accessible showers and balconies (!) and they know who their target audience is. I just typed the vakanties met de puntjes op zorg into Google Translate: 
Holidays with the dots on health care
That explains why the elevator doors sound a chirpy Opgepast before they close.

Hmm.  I learned something new. And NO, I was not trying to make fun of elderly vacationers in wheelchairs, but the real importance of this hotel was hammered home when I saw several young guys in their 20s wheel their chairs into the hotel lobby this afternoon.  Thinking back over the hotels I have stayed in during this and last year's trips, I can not remember many hotels where anyone in a wheel chair would have had an easy time getting into their room. And even if  the hotel layout did allow that, I can't remember a single bathroom where a wheelchaired person would have gotten onto the loo or into the shower without major muscle effort. 

However, as wheelchair-accessible as it may be, there is NO telephone in the room. Good thing there is Skype!    Also missing is hot water at 5:30 am; they don't turn the boilers on until 5:45  am. Breakfast is at 8 am so I have time to cycle to the beach:

And if anyone should agree with the author that this coast is disfigured by more than enough ugly high-rises already, closely inspect the below picture: They're building more ;-(

Where the buildings of Saint Malo reflected harmoniously in the sand, these just look sad

Inhumane ?

run, run away 
After a good breakfast (the scrambled eggs and bacon looked too Belgian for me to try), I go on a mission to remedy the other thing that's missing in Belgian (and Dutch?) hotel rooms. No, I'm not buying a phone (Whenever there is no phone in the room, the place seems to have excellent internet; knock on wood!) but an electric water kettle. Instant coffee brewed with hot tap water just doesn't taste right.

And I am successful!  While the last travelling water kettle had to stay in Saint Malo last summer, this one will be a true TRAVEL KETTLE, since it can be switched from 220 V to 110 V.  Nice touch.

On the way back from the kettle store (EURO SHOP, a Home Depot-like contraption for household goods) I decide to head back to the hotel via the dunes.

A trailer park (for summer holidays)
Back at the hotel:

After I have have tested my kettle in the hotel (it works ;-) , I go for a short exporatory bike ride to Westend (in the opposite direction from Ostend ;-). More of the high-rises along the water and some old Belgium inland.

At 7:30 pm I've had enough of work. I need a diversion.  A bike ride?  Why not!  Why not ride the 10 km to Ostende to buy some cigarettes. And then the 10 km back. I won't walk miles for Camel, but I'll cycle miles for Gauloises -)

I already had the idea yesterday, when walking on the freshly unearthed tide flats I noticed that they were hard as concrete.  All I needed today was to see someone else do it and find some stairs down from the dyke.

I make it to Ostend by 8:30ish, find a cigarette store, and head back into the setting sun.

A good day ;-)

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