Living in a landlocked region makes me miss the ocean so I decided to head out to the coast for a short trip from Bruges. Sitting on the train with my Leonidas chocolates (supplementing a typical normal hostel provided breakfast – foamy bread and jam) and scanning a Belgian newspaper (I find dutch to be similar to German so I get away with understanding a sentence or two here and there) I arrived in Oostende fifteen minutes later. I rented a bike at the station – half day costs €10 – and pedaled off into the wind.




I may have forgotten that the temperature had dropped to minus two degrees and the wind was quuuite icy (thank god for all of my thermal layers and gloves and hat and scarf) but cycling quickly kept me toasty. First things first, I headed straight down to the sea, cycled along the pier for a few kilometres, wound my way back through the city before continuing again along the pier. The sandy beach was lovely, the high rise apartments lining the sea not so much, but the cold crisp weather meant it was beautifully isolated. They have some interesting baths along the beachfront, a promenade with art exhibitions and a few plaques to remember the soldiers from the war. The rest of the city isn’t that nice, bar one church, a park with a tower and the fascinating (or maybe it was just me…) drawbridge at which I conveniently arrived just to see it open and a boat glide past!






There are a lot of restaurants, most of them quite fancy so I didn’t find one I was looking for (something small, cosy, comfortable, selling fried fish at non-extortionate prices). The one I settled for was only okay, not very memorable so I won’t bother detailing it here but there were some nicer fancier ones with pricier dishes which looked okay. You can tell that this is a city that looks completely different in summer (although that wouldn’t be my idea of paradise either), but it was nice to just cycle around in the cool weather and wait for a brief moment of sunshine before dipping my fingers into the sea. Normally I would always be the first to get my feet wet but I wimped out due to the cold – and I think my toes (and sanity) thanked me for it!





I arrived back to Bruges to watch the sun slowly setting over the stepped roofs (perfect timing). I scoped out some more chocolate shops, left a chain chocolate store with a hot chocolate in hand and clutching some pralines from another store. There are so many different shops ranging from select boutiques to chain stores its difficult to find the perfect one. The quality does vary, but then so does the price – hugely in some cases.






Dinner that evening was in bistro Pro De, just a short roll from my hostel at the end of Langestraat. It small, homely and beautifully decorated with all sorts of interesting knick-knacks cluttering the walls (reminding me of the pubs at home). Some delicious parmesan croquettes and a hearty stew later I was ready for a nap (that might have been the red wine though). The food was good, simple and veeery filling thanks to the giant (that’s mammoth to you Ute) portions. The olives and spicy popcorn that arrived to my table didn’t go amiss either. The couple who run the place are incredibly friendly and so attentive. Once they realised I was alone the lady brought over some things for me to read and I was left to relax, eat and drink wine to my hearts content.