26th January 2016
Even during wintertime a getaway to the Belgian seaside is great. Our coast is desolated in that period, which makes it perfect to escape the city bustle. In the beginning of January I went – for the first time in my life – to Ostend and I was pleasantly surprised. My weekend was all about beach walks, good food, culture, architecture, shopping and beautiful greyish skies.
// TO DO //
Go for a stroll on the beach until you reach Altar, an impressive artwork by Belgian artist Kris Martin. The huge oxidized steel sculpture has the form of the famous Ghent Alterpiece ‘Adoration of the Mystic Lamb’. It is built on the beach in between the sea and the well known Thermae Palace Hotel. A window through which you can gaze to the swell of the sea for hours.
Don’t miss MuZEE if you are into art and culture. When I visited Ostend there was an interesting exhibition on Brian Calvin, an American artist from California. Visit the museum’s website to learn about current exhibitions. (Romestraat 11, www.muzee.be).
The architecture of De Grote Post is beautiful. Before it turned into a cultural centre it was a post office designed by architect Eysselinck. They renovated the building in 2012 but managed to remain some of the old elements. The former post counters are still there for instance. In their café they serve good, honest food all day long. Book a performance or just visit the building to admire the architecture. (Hendrik Serruyslaan 18A, www.degrotepost.be)
Altar, Kris Martin
MuZee, Brian Calvin, End of Messages
De Grote Post
// TO SHOP //
-> Most of the shops in Ostend are open on Sunday afternoon.
White Interiors: The place to be for vintage lovers. Owner Mike collects the most beautiful vintage interior design pieces. From Togo sofas to a Maarten Van Severen cupboard, Saarinen tables and Bertoia barstools. His wife owns a shop with small objects (White Interiors 49) in Deurle, nearby Ghent, which is also worth a visit. (Langestraat 55 (Ostend), www.whiteinteriors.be / Dorpsstraat 49 (Deurle), www.whiteinteriors49.be)
Pied de Poule: According to me the most beautiful women’s clothing shop in Ostend. IRO, Anine Bing, Masscob and soon Alexander Wang are only a few of the brands that are sold at Pied de Poule. They also sell Wouters & Hendrix jewelry, Love Stories underwear and the perfumes of Bella Freud (on my wishlist!). Pretty sure every shop addict will find a stunning piece over here. (Van Iseghemlaan 88 / Koningstraat 19, www.pieddepoulesuper.be)
Pied de Poule
// TO EAT & TO DRINK //
De Familie Janssen: Cosy coffee bar in the city centre of Ostend. Into something special? Try their specialty of the house ‘kokoslimoentje’, a coffee with lemon and coconut milk. Apart from that they serve excellent homemade cakes. (Kapucijnenstraat 2, www.defamiliejansen.be)
De Lunchbar: Head over here for a healthy lunch. What to expect? Salads, quinoa lasagna, quiche and wraps. They also serve great vegetarian options. (Groentemarkt 6, www.lunchbar.be)
Enoteca del Berebene: Small, cosy restaurant with great Italian food and excellent wines. Owners Isabelle and Thierry also have a pretty B&B where you can spend the night. Across the street you’ll find Galerie Tom Gerits, an art gallery that is worth checking out. (Madridstraat 6, www.espacedivin.com / Madridstraat 5, www.galerietomgerits.com)
Maxzim: Sweet tooth? You’ll find the best homemade ice cream of Ostend at Maxzim. (Hertstraat 4, www.gelatomaxzim.be)
Bottarga: It’s not their interior that does the trick, it’s the food. Order shrimp croquettes, a fresh sole meunière with french fries and a good bottle of white wine. Does the Belgian seaside gets any better than this? (Albert I Promenade 64, www.bottarga.be)
Histoires d’O: According to the famous Belgian bartender Jurgen Nobels (who was born in Ostend and came back to give us a cocktail workshop) you’ll find the best Ostend cocktails in this nice vue sur mer bar. Their terrace is a great hangout when the sun comes out. My personal favourite was Jurgen’s Daiquiri (find the recipe below). Curious to taste a cocktail shaked by the master himself? You’ll find Jurgen at Uncle Babe’s Burger in Ghent. When it’s not too crowded he loves making customised cocktails for his clients. (Histoires d’O, Albert 1 Promenade – Zeedijk 53, www.histoiresdo.be)
De Familie Janssen coffee bar
Pour 5 cl white rum in a cocktail shaker, add 3 cl of fresh lemon juice, 2 cl of sugar syrup and ice cubes and shake for 10 to 12 seconds. Strain into a (chilled) cocktail glass.
// TO SLEEP //
We slept at La Passion Interdite, a charming and affordable bed and breakfast. From € 90 a night (2 persons), breakfast included. The B&B is situated close to a free parking area (Maria Hendrika). (Graaf de Smet de Naeyerlaan 16, www.lapassioninterdite.be)
Rather into something modern? Velodroom 43 is another excellent choice. From € 115 a night (2 persons), breakfast included. (Velodroomstraat 43, www.velodroom43.be)
La Passion Interdite