FINALLY, here's the last post of that wonderful trip to Belgium at the end of November over a month ago! It was my goal to finish it all before I go into the hospital on Thursday for a left-knee replacement. (But more on that later.)
It so happens that Astrid received an email while we were in Atlanta in October, giving us an offer too good to refuse: 4 days, 3 nights at a city-center hotel in Ostend, Belgium, full breakfast included, for €154 total. Not per night. Total. After reading the fine print and seeing nothing askew with the offer, YOU DIDN'T HAVE TO ASK US TWICE.
Ostend is on the North Sea coast (remember the tram ride?). It's a 15-minute train ride to Bruges, where we saw the Christmas market and the Snow & Ice Sculpture festival. We arrived on Friday, December 28th, and left the following Monday, December 1st.
We loved being situated in the center of the city in a very cozy hotel and room.
Just a block away was the magical Winterijs wonderland, first day of its 2014 opening.
And since it was lunchtime, what better place to go native.
Brats with onions!
Then, we were on a mission to see as much of the city center as possible before nightfall.
We knew the rest of the weekend was "taken."
In hopes it would still be open, we first headed off to Ostend's main church,
with it's separate St. Peter's Tower across the street from 1478.
The Church of St. Peter and St. Paul is a Roman Catholic neo-gothic church from 1899.
And, yes, it was open!
It was the perfect time of the day to be there, with the sun prisms dancing around the stained glass.
When we went back outside, the sun caught this one spot of the rose window.
It was magical.
Across the harbor from the church, a short walk away, was the train station.
I LOVE European train stations and boat harbors.
When you can get both together in the same photos, it feels better than perfect.
The next day, Saturday, when we took the train to Bruges, I got some close-ups.
As we walked inland along the harbor, we came to the Zeilschip Mercator,
once a training ship for the Belgian merchant fleet, now a floating museum.
If we can't take a joke, right?!
With the sun setting by late afternoon, we headed to the Albert I Promenade to catch it.
Sitting on a bench from 5-5:30, this is what we saw.
A brave surfer nearby was also catching the sun...and waves.
You always see things a bit differently at night, of course.
Back where we started from, even the Winterijs pavilion had perked up.
Ostend is a delightful city at any time of the year, I'm sure.
But we loved being there at the holiday time.
As we often say, we were "short of eyes."
After all, Belgium is our neighbor to the south of us, just a 30-minute drive to the border.
We should probably go there more often!!!
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
About that knee replacement: After a volleyball accident in 1971, I have finally cried "UNCLE!" I can hardly wait to get a new knee, even though I know I have a long row to hoe once it's done. They say it's the most complicated of orthopedic surgeries but also one of the most successful. So I am highly optimistic and expect nothing but the best.
Wish us both (poor Astrid!) much success, please and thank you.
And of course, I'll catch you up as soon as possible (after my 5-day hospital stay).