Road trip to Belgium

Trip Start May 19, 2008
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Trip End Ongoing


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Where I stayed
Hostelling International: De Peerdevisser (in Oostduinkerke)
De Passant B&B

Flag of Belgium  , West Flanders,
Saturday, April 4, 2009

Visiting Belgium has been on our list of things to do since we arrived in France. I did a little research on the best things to see, do, and eat and Kyle rented a car. Here's what went down:
 
We left the rainy, foggy valley of the Seine and literally took the highway toward the direction of sunshine. Cruising North toward Etretat (France), we had the darkest of clouds over our shoulders and sun in our eyes. After about an hour or so we arrived at the beach front town of Etretat. A slow-paced town nudged between sun-bleached cliffs and arches that extend into the sea.  The beach is made up of the most eye catching, smooth, sun baked pebbles. I pocketed a handful of my very favorite. We listened as the waves were sucked back to the ocean, a low whistle as the water rushed past the rattling stones.
 
Back on the road headed to Belgium, we passed by acres of lush farmland. The fields stretched out to the horizon then disappeared into overlooks of the deep blue sea. Prime property disturbed only buy orderly rows of sprouting crops, and a hidden web of roots.
 
After a couple more hours of driving, the sun set and we crossed into Belgium. In the dark we made our way to a hostel in Oostduinkerke, a small town on the beach. We were surprised to find out we were the only people staying in this large, modern hostel that could hold up to 150 people! The man at reception was very helpful and happy to teach us some Dutch words and phrases. In the morning we woke up to see that he had set us a cute table for two in the dining room. We had a nice breakfast and felt like a king and queen as we dined alone in our royal eating chambers. Kinda.
 
From Oostduinkerke, we drove to the lovely town of Brugge (or Bruges), parked the car and spent the day walking the town dubbed "The Venice of the North." Fact: Stockholm and Amsterdam also hold the same title. Either way, canals, swans, cobblestone roads, boat tours, and picturesque cafes were not in short supply. In addition, we enjoyed an overload of beautiful Dutch architecture, friendly locals, horse drawn carriages, Belgium chocolates, waffles, and fries. And for all the beer enthusiasts out there, please accept our apologies as we each only had one beer in Belgium. (Or be happy because there's more left for you?) Over lunch we sipped Lindeman's Kriek 'Cherry' Beer. Introducing Shirley Temple's big sister, Kriek! That's a compliment, in case you're wondering.
 
Just outside of Brugge, is the countryside town of Jabbeke where we stayed two nights at a lovely B&B. ("De Passant B&B" @ hostelworld.com) It had a great atmosphere: Modern and worldly, cozy and classy. In the mornings we enjoyed a great spread of cheeses, fresh fruit, yogurt, breads, coffee, and fresh squeezed orange juice.
 
For our second day in Belgium, we visited Brugge again in the morning and took a sunny canal boat tour. We also visited The Beguinage, a historic courtyard (which was filled with daffodils) walled in by a ring of whitewashed storefronts and cottages. Classic, peaceful, and old (founded in 1245!) The Beguinage of Brugge is now a monastery, read more here: http://www.visit-bruges.com/monuments/the-beguinage.htm
 
In the afternoon we drove a little further and crossed into The Netherlands. We stopped briefly and walked around the town of Sluis, which has a windmill in the center of town that has been converted into a restaurant. Near Sluis was a large tree-lined canal that I thought was just picture perfect.
 
Enjoy the photos...next stop, Morocco!!!
 
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