Thursday, June 01, 2006

OSTENDE BIGGEST COAST TOWN IN BELGIUM

On saturday I was invited by a Belgian painter to his exposition in Ostende, the biggest coast town of Belgium . So I went there with a girlfriend. We went by train as the train station in Ostende is in the middle of the town and just besides the habor. As it's holiday period over here and many belgians are going for one day to the sea, the highway is always crowded and you spend more time on the road than in town.

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Ostende's station

It was a long time I hadn't been in Ostende and wanted to do some sightseeing with my girlfriend. But we had first to go to this exposition. It's really not my taste what he does in paintings but his bronze sculptures are really wonderfull. The paintings were white and black and represented skulls, skeletons, or starved people to what he added always a fish. And it was always the same. I thought by myself I prefer adding a cat than a cold fish.

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The kind of sculptures he did, from the pictures I didn't take any pictures !

But this is a matter of taste. Anyway it looked quite depressive. So we looked quickly through and stopped at the sculptures to see them closer. But then I had enough of skulls and skeletons and went outside on the beach promenade.

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All along the beach you find one restaurant after the other. It really looks like people have nothing else to do but eating. As usual the sea was grey, it's never blue even when the sun is shining and the sky is blue and when it rains the sea is even in a very dark grey.

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Some shows going on at the beach

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Carriage to rent

But Ostende is a nice city. The only thing which bothered me enormously was that in the 60th one mad or several politicians decided to demolish all the wonderful stylish old houses along the Ostend coast. So today you have these awfull glass cubes and from time to time an old stylish house sitting in between, because it's owner didn't want to sell.

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See, old houses "glued" to modern buildings

This is really ugly. At least they didn't have the time to also demolish the thermes and the casino, which is located in an old palace belonging to the first kings of Belgium. It was restaured, modernized and looks nice. But the rest of the City is a shame.

At the harbour of Ostende we could see the huge ferry boats leaving for the UK. The cars were driven inside but there were also pedestrians. There is quite a traffic between Ostende and Dover.

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Ferry in the habor

Apparently Ostende was a small village built on the east-end (Ost-ende) of an island between the North Sea and a beach lake. In 1265 Ostende became a city with a market hall. The majority of the citizen were fishermen. The coastline has always been rather unstable and a new Ostend were built behind large dikes and further away from the always threatening sea.

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Habour

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The "Mercator" training ship for marines

The position on the North Sea had advantages for Ostend as a harbor but also provided a lot of trouble. The city was frequently taken, destroyed and rampaged by conquering armies. At that time Ostende belonged to Holland.

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City park

A railway were built in 1838, which related Ostende to Brussels. That's why it's so easy going by train. Ostende also became a transit harbour to England already in 1846 when the first ferry sailed to Dover. Before the Eurostar existed we had been to England by ferry, going from Ostend to Dover and I remember that the huge ferry shaked quite a lot and a lot of people disappeared upstairs to the deck or in the toilets. Looking green was fashion. I fortunately had nothing.

My girlfriend and I also wanted to go in the Casino and we had already fixed an amount of 20 € not more than that, but it was closed and opened an hour later, so I don't know if I would have become rich or poor.

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Ancient palace and now thermes and Casino

Ostend was a very elegant town in the past times as the Belgian kings, Leopold 1 and Leopold II had the residence there and spend their holidays in Ostend. So important and beautiful monuments and villas were built to please the Royal family. (and now almost all replaced by glass cubes) The rest of the belgian aristocrats followed and Ostende was called "The Queen of the Belgian sea-side resorts". But that must be long ago, as since I live here (1958) the royal family didn't go any more to Ostend. Now it has become mostly a city for other holiday resorts people to go shopping. Or play in the Casino.

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Shows also in town

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and painters

But a lot of Belgians are spending their holidays here at the coast, in spite of the bad weather

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streets in Ostende

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Tourist train

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We took it of course (on right it's me)

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Some famous painters were born in Ostend such as James Ensor, René Magritte, Constant Permeke, and Leon Spilliaert. Ensor's birth house is still open for visitors.

So we walked around assisted to some street shows, had very good grey shrimps and did some shopping before we returned home in the evening.

1 comments:

Sonia said...

What a wonderful pictures, Ingrid! I enjoyed so much the Tour!
I love also your description, opinion and feeling about the town.
Well done!

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I love painting, writing, travelling and photography. My favorit models are my four cats which I observe with fun and humor. I am German, married to an Italian and we live in Waterloo (15 km from Brussels) / Belgium since many years. Waterloo is a famous place to many tourists, because Napoleon lost his battle here against Wellington and other European countries.

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