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Monday, 29 June 2009

Travel Trip Update

Our trip through the tunnel was a good one and on arrival in France we decided to drive just over the border and visit the Belgian coast as the base for our break. We live near the sea and so we've never normally stayed in seaside places when we go away, but this time we thought "seaside".

We opted for De Panne, just over the French border and a seaside resort. It turned out to be an interesting town, full of contradictions. The buildings along the wide white beach were mostly blocks of holiday flats..a bit like Spain..going for volume, but the streets behind it reminded me of Blackpool without the funfair!! The whole town was like that...almost like different places depending on which streets you walked...a real mix, but fun exploring. Market place, shopping boutiques, seaside stuff, you name it they seem to have it all in this one small town.

One of the interesting things about Belgium is they have two languages, French and Flemish. It just depends what area of the country you are in as to which language people speak. As De Panne is a holiday town a lot of the people speak both, plus English and a few speak German. It is lovely to just sit and listen to people around you and hear so many different languages and dialects all in the one place. You really feel like your watching the world go by...or at least listening to it!!

The beach was lovely, wide white and clean. So, after checking into our hotel we decided to take a stroll. The tide was out and a large sand bar was available as a second promenade and even although it was early evening, we walked for miles, taking in the peace and fresh air. What a beautiful sight, seeing the sun reflected on the sea and watch the light get less and less as the sun slipped silently away.

beachsunset_depannejune09

Our hotel, the Hotel Royal, is a family run hotel. The owner/manager is a lovely, friendly young lady who took over running the place on her father's death. She is the fourth generation of her family to run it...and she is doing a wonderful job. The rooms have all mode cons, but atmosphere of the place is of a gentler less frantic time. I could imagine the hotel in the 1920's, 40's and 50's, full of respectable Belgian's drinking coffee in the "tea room", or sedately eating breakfast in the dinning room.

We were on the second floor and had a balcony which I was slightly scared of...it was VERY narrow and it was a long way down....I hate heights!! I did sit on it but I preferred the ground floor terrace..coward that I am. I went out to grab a quick photo or two and then scuttled back in!! It did appeal to some though as when we came back in on Saturday afternoon, we found two young men were sitting on our balcony enjoying a drink and the sun. It seems they came through the emergency exit that leads on to it and thought they would just stay and enjoy the view. DH explained the balcony came with our room and they moved on...to find an other unoccupied balcony I expect, lol!!

balcony-view_depanne_jun09

The only thing I did missed was a kettle in the room, but in Belgium it seems that people prefer to promenade and visit the terraces and plentiful cafes where they can watch the world go by as they sip. I have to admit we did a fair bit of watching the world go by ourselves but we had a multitude of bottles of water for those dry moments in our room. Perhaps the Belgians are also shrewd enough to know that if you have no kettle they can sell you the coffee...or perhaps they feel that good coffee can't be made in your room...who knows.

We only ate breakfast at the hotel and then we had fun picking places to snack or eat dinner in. Being a seaside town, fish and shell fish were on the menu everywhere. Mussels were the big thing, done to various recipes....some with lots of garlic...yummy!!The sea front promenade has space for cycles and carts of all sizes not to mention the scores of people who appeared at the weekend for what turned out to be a holiday weekend locally.

As our break was short we didn't want to spend all the time driving but we did spend Friday walking around Bruges to visit some of our favourite places. The temperature was around 30 degrees in the morning and very hot for wandering around, so we sat in the shade in a park and watched the water flow by when the going got too over powering. What is it about water that is so soothing?

bruges-park_01_jun09

 

brugepark_03_jun09

But by afternoon, when we were driving back to De Panne the rain arrived and cleared the air, leaving a newly washed feel to everything.

Saturday morning brought the sun back after a misty start and again the temperature soared to the high 20's. Saturday was a special day for the town, a Braderie, and so there was a street market, brass bands and all the shops had 30% off..a sale!! We walked and jostled in the crowds and then ate and walked some more on the sand bar. The day flew by and soon that sun was setting again and I was yawning wide!! Tired but happy I fell into my bed.

Sunday morning we ate our fill on the standard continental breakfast, fruit salad, rolls, French bread, cheese, ham, jams, croissants, jam, juice...you get the picture..I'm a pig!! Feeling a little over stuffed, we headed for the patisserie and after buying some of our favourite breads set of back into France and the tunnel under the sea. Mind you, it still takes three and a half hours to get home after we get to Dover, so it was afternoon before we rolled up at our front door.

I felt tired and refreshed at the same time...have you ever felt like that...or is it just me? Strange as usual!!

Well, I'm off now but I'll be back tomorrow with a little goodie for you all and some more pictures. Take care until then.

19 comments:

daisydilly said...

beautiful pictures.this is what is so awesome about the internet. you can see places you know you will never get to in person. glad all went well.
vicki

Ann said...

Just beautiful. It sounds like you had a wonderful time. I do know what you mean though about when you get back home. I also wanted to let you know that I investigated the vanilla pudding thing from my sisters recipe. A friend of mine has a daughter who lived in the UK and she said it's either called either Angel delight or fluffy up delight. (Have you heard of either of those?)

digivickie said...

Thanks for sharing - a great read!

A.Marie said...

Ooooohhhh...I was so excited to see that you had pics and they are gorgeous!! I almost feel that I was there..,(in my mind anyway!)LOL

I especially like the Continental Breakfast; it sounded yummy!

Grace said...

Lovely photos

Christy said...

That looks wonderful! So glad that you had a great time and a safe trip!

suruha said...

Your 'get-away' sounds like it was just perfect! How nice that the two of you could go away, like this. I miss having one to share things like that with. Ah, but, I'm single and still quite content. LOL

I'm so happy you had such a nice time. You deserve it.

Su

PJ said...

sounds like you had an amazing time. reading your words made me almost feel like i had experienced it myself. beautiful pics also. welcome back!

Keryn said...

Thanks for sharing these beautiful photos June. So pleased you are having such a wonderful holiday. Looking forward to hearing about the rest of your journey. Have fun and don't eat too much.

lovetocraftbetty said...

Your photos are gorgeous and your trip sounds wonderful!! I so enjoy reading your blog.

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Designed by K said...

oh thank you June, I feel like I went on vacation :)...funny how reading descriptions sometimes with photos can kind of take you a drift..sounds like you had a very lovely getaway! So glad though that you are back..I so miss my "Ms June" stories :)...xoxo K

Kim's Scrappin' said...

Beautiful pictures June! Thank you for helping me to feel as if I've gone on a mini-vacation to a place that I know I will never see in person. Glad you had a good time, but good to see you back. :)

Blogger Rise said...

cool pic there :)

makeyesup said...

wonderful photos, wish I could get there too.

Ajila said...

Your pictures are gorgeous. I have to say that I'm more than a bit envious. I'm glad you had such a special time and were able to snap some wonderful memories. LYSL.

xashee's corner said...

Thank you for sharing such BEAUTY!!!
i am soo GLAD you had such a GREAT time, you surely deserve it! Have an AWESOME day!:)

Glynis said...

Sounds as if you had a great time, lovely pics.