Sunday, 28 August 2016

The Blackpool of Belgium

From the land of the Stroopwafel  (Dutch syrup waffle) to the land of Moules et Frites, we had come a long way. Well only thirty odd miles really, to the Belgian port of Oostende.  

They always call port cities 'bustling' and Ostend is certainly that. The reason? The 30 degree temperatures have brought people streaming from the hot centre of the country into the breezier seaside in their thousands. Huge sparsely- clad family groups roam the streets seeking entertainment and chips. It feels like Blackpool but without the cheesy charm of that town.

The only attraction we visited today was almost empty,  and we loved it. The Amandine is a full sized Icelandic trawler launched in the 60s and pensioned off in the 90s which has become a museum on land.  

We learned about the Belgian fishermen who spent 4 days travelling in her to the cold waters off Iceland to land giant catches of fish, pulling in the nets by by hand and gutting the fish on the deck. We saw hair raising film from the 60s of great force 10 or 11 storms with trawlers ploughing through appalling waves. 

And we climbed all over Amandine, which had been only lightly and sympathetically restored, thank heaven. We saw the homely galley and eating area, and the helmsman's comfy seat with the built-in ashtray at one side and built-in wooden mug holder on the other. Essential during gales I would say... The deck seemed a small and crowded space with a million trip hazards especially in foul weather. Our respect for these fishermen grew. It cost a measly 4 euros to visit Amandine and I heartily recommend it. 

We cast a quick eye over the railway station (unimpressive) and the church of St Peter and St Paul  (closed, pictured). Enough Ostend. There were charts and tide tables waiting, for the planning of our journey to Dunkerque and onwards to Ramsgate. And the making of lunches too. As I write, Nic is cooking tonight's dinner using root veg we brought from Sainsbury in Greenwich!

Last night moules, and tonight basic boat food like the trawlermen.
















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