In need of coffee and a little break from our journey on the coast tram we clambered off in Ostende. Just a quick stop was my plan, nothing much to see here, it would be a bland and nondescript port town. Wrong on all counts. We spent more than half a day at this remarkably busy and remarkably pleasant city on the sea. No-one was more surprised than me to be seduced by the delights of Ostende.
Apparently once the holiday destination of choice for King Leopold I and II, the whole place was flattened during World War 2 but I still thought it retained something of the feeling of a grand old seaside resort. Marvin Gaye seemed to like it too – he composed Sexual Healing in Ostende while visiting in 1981.
Not too many old buildings around but it was the beach and the promenade that grabbed us. The seafront is lively and that beach stretches for 9km. We spent an age strolling along the King Albert I promenade, full of children and adults enjoying themselves and taking in the sea air. The beach is golden and pristine and some curious artwork grabbed our attention.
Yachts in the harbour, museums aplenty but as soon as Son spotted some fountains on the promenade he was off. Swimming costume donned, we bought a cheap bucket and spade nearby and a great time was had by all. Husband and I relaxed in the sun, Son got soaked with a host of other children splashing and enjoying the water.
Next stop was the Sand Festival – we followed the signs and found sand sculptures with a Disney theme. Superb all of them but Cinderella’s Castle got my vote. We wandered, looking and taking in these masterpieces before finding a very nice little bar right in the centre. Trampolines nearby meant we could linger over our beverages while Son bounced. Win win.
Fish and chips from a little stall on the seafront – believe me they were probably the best I’ve ever tasted – and a perfect end to a perfect day in Ostende. Dodging the feisty seagulls trying to pinch our fish – now that was another matter.