Monday, 3 January 2011

Adventurous start of a new year

In 2010 the year started with preparations for a long cycling trip through New Zealand, so this year I wanted to do something again. Sometime in December I vented the idea that it would be cool to do a short trip just after Christmas, spending new year's eve somewhere else. My sister did dig this idea as well, so things were settled.

My idea was first to head out to the snow, though it would be hard to get there, and find a place to sleep. Therefore we headed out to Belgium, more particular the coastal area west of Antwerp. The idea was to watch the fireworks on the beach somewhere ... which worked out!

Coming from the northern part of the Netherlands it was about half a days drive to reach Bruges, where we soon found a hostel (after having walked to the city square and back again, tourist information was about 100m from where we parked). It was a bit shabby, though it was pretty cheap and that's good ... we then immersed ourselves again in the city flow of being a tourist and enjoying the numerous Christmas decorations. The evening ended in an Irish pub, placed in a cellar :-).

Restaurants, still with Christmas decorations
Decorated restaurants on Bruges' square

During breakfast the next day we learned from a few other guests that the pubs and all would be closed in the evening, and they were wondering what we would do. Never had it crossed our minds that the pubs would be closed, and we hadn't thought that far ahead ... we planned to head to Oostende.

This was only a short drive and soon saw a couple signs designating free parking and a bus taking you to the center of town. The parking area was found with ease, however we could not find a bus or signs telling us where the bus would be. After having walked about 5-10 minutes we found out that we were actually very near the center of Oostende, only on one of the walks back later that day we found the bus stop.

Having found the tourist information we booked into the youth hostel "De Ploate", where they still had some room for us. The guy behind the reception thought it was adventurous of us not having booked a room on new year's eve. The rest of the afternoon was spent walking though Oostende and having a cup of coffee somewhere.

Pier in Oostende (2)
Oostende pier

Later that evening we found out that the German guests of the hostel in Bruges had been right, almost everything was closed. Almost the only restaurant that was still open, and not fully booked, was the Pizza Hut. It was a bit strange though, having the idea that this was a fast food restaurant, we had to wait to be seated and were asked whether we had booked. Of course we hadn't booked a spot, this whole trip was based on the idea of roaming around without planning anything. Fortunately they still had a table left and the pizzas were soon gone.
Now what to do the rest of the evening? During our walk through town that afternoon we had discovered a cinema, and they were still open until half past ten. We chose "The tourist" as the last movie we would see in 2010, which was pretty good fun.

Not long after eleven we ventured out again, to the promenade near the casino to view the fireworks. This was pretty spectacular ... 

Fireworks on the beach (2)
Fireworks at Oostende

... more photos of our trip can be found here.

Have a very happy new year, to pursue your goals with success and vigour!

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