In search of seagulls and roosters along the North Sea coast

Silence speaks volumes and neither of us was going to be the first to cave and break the ice.  So, there we sat, irritated and irate, on opposite sides of the tram, as it chug a lugged its way along the North Sea coast.  What should have been an adventurous sojourn hopscotching from one Belgian town to another had instead morphed into the day trip from hell, where no one spoke or dared chance a glance.  Stewing and ruminating was the order of the day, and come hell or high water, neither party was about to give in, let alone make amends or call a truce.

It wasn’t supposed to turn out this way.  Or, was it?  But then again, how else would we have stumbled upon Le Coq sur le Mer?

A quick backtrack to this morning found Travel Bud and I in jovial spirits, eagerly anticipating exploring the thousand year old city port of Oostende.  Or, at least I believed that to be the action plan.  Boasting endless beaches, a boardwalk, casino, age-old architecture and, of course, mouth-watering delicacies of the freshest catch of the day, this seaside marina did not disappoint.  My first visit to Oostende, some 20 or so years ago, found me promenading along the sandy beached shore, shivering uncontrollably on a frigid December day.  On a harried jaunt to see the sights during an all too brief stop-over as I waited to board my train to Bruges, I vowed that I would some day return and spend the day appreciating all that this marina town had to offer.

Fast-forward to the present and my pink sneaker clad feet were itching to make up for lost time and scamper up and down the cobblestone rues, explore and of course, discover hidden treasures – of the discounted designer satchel kind – along the way.  The prospect of shopping till I dropped, arms laden down with carrier bags and packages galore, had my heart a thumping and my adrenaline a pumping.  Spent and tuckered out, I would then idle the afternoon away in the quaintest of bistros, scribbling and creating, whilst indulging in copious amounts of calamari and cabernet.  Could it get any better than that?

Travel Bud’s blueprint on how to spend a picture perfect day, on the other hand, differed vastly from mine.  The plan was to traverse the entire Belgian coast via the De Kusttram, a 68 km long tram route spanning 16 major cities and 70 stops, a hop on hop off tour of the rail inspired kind.  A great idea in theory, but not that awesome in practicality, if you only have a couple of hours in which to snap pictures and run.

So, there we were, at a standstill, two squabbling foreigners, adamant that their agenda prevail.  Stubborn as a bull, refusing to budge, Travel Bud was seconds away from exhibiting a not so grown up type tantrum, whilst I, bargain lusting shopaholic, was on the verge of a nuclear size meltdown, until - The Unthinkable happened.  Not yet ready to relent, Travel Bud triumphantly played his Ace card, casually reminding me that when we were planning the trip so many eons ago, I had wholeheartedly agreed to his proposed plan.  Yikes!  Who can possibly remember that far back?  I must have been far too engrossed in catching up with the latest trends in my fashion glossies, paying scant attention to Bud's distant ramblings.

Thus, sheep-faced and dejected, with visions of acquisitive glory down the drain, I reluctantly acquiesced and clambered into said train.

And, did I happen to also mention that nary a half hour into the journey, fidgeting and squirming as if he had ants in his pants, sitting uncomfortably in his oh so confining seat, Travel Bud unexpectedly verbalized a statement like none other.  “My butt hurts”.  And off we scampered at the next upcoming stop.

And thus, dear readers, is how we stumbled upon the Rooster of the Sea, otherwise known as De Haan Aan Zee, the quaintest of Belle Époque towns on the North Sea coast.

Looks like an upcoming trip to Oostende is looming on the horizon, as third time around has definitely got to be the charm, don’t you think?

Come ride the rails with Travel Bud and I, as we explore and wander and occasionally squabble, discovering seagulls and roosters and Belle Époque towns along the way.

Next blog post – in three weeks!  Wednesday, February 10th!! 

Hanging out in De Haan Aan Zee – The never-ending saga continues.  Stay tuned!!

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