The road to Ostend

Posted on June 23, 2011


I have been a bit sloppy of late blogging wise. Ok, more sloppy than usual. Alright, I’ve been my consistently sloppy self in not posting for nearly a month. Life just got in the way.  Crap excuse but true nonetheless.

Back to the trip…

On day two we found ourselves sat in a magnificent house about to be served a truly sensational breakfast. As I mentioned before, the house was very Living Etc. – that’s a Modern Homes magazine for those of you who don’t know. Such places make me feel a little uncomfortable, as I am, in fact, allergic to luxury – as demonstrated by the chafing I experience whenever I wear one of those thick terry towelling dressing gowns you get in real fancy hotels.

Back to the breakfast…

Ingrid, the co-owner, served up a breakfast fit for a king, or several kings should I say, that we duly demolished. During the chow down Brian revealed that he ”only has a small appetite these days” – he is 67 you know – and then proceeded to go toe-to -toe with Shamu, who outweighs the Goat by a good five stone. I think it was a draw in the end, and with honour restored, we set about planning our route. We mentioned to Ingrid that we were going to visit Sluis prompting her to reveal its saucy secret: the denizens of Bruges pop over the border to visit the sex shops there; a bit like a booze cruise, but with amyl nitrate and handcuffs. I wonder if there are any EU allowance restrictions on what you can bring back and whether the ‘personal usage’ rule applies. Anyway, it made Sluis sound a little seedy and a tad more interesting.

We enjoyed a lovely ride along the quietly stunning Damse Vart, also known as the Napoleonchannel, which links Bruges to Sluis. Napoleon ordered the construction of this canal in 1810 to transport troopers without the need to engage with the superior English navy. It’s strange that something designed to facilitate war could result in something so beautiful, so ethereal.

Get over yourself and get back to the ride, you ponce….

We reached Sluis after an hour and half of sturdy cycling. We enjoyed a nice cup of coffee and a spot of people watching before looking for the infamous sex shops. The word juxtaposition springs to mind here. It looked like someone had taken a seedy slice of Soho and put in smack bang in the middle of a chocolate box village. Bizarre. After marvelling at such innovative town planning, we set sail for Ostend stopping at a non-descript town on the way for a quick beer. I had a De Koninck, a non-alcoholic pale ale by Belgian standards coming in at an apologetic 5%. After one last push, we hit Ostend 41 miles to the good. And all done via the numbers. Again. Belgian cycling network planners, we salute you.

We were staying at the Hotel Marion, a pretty basic hotel that just so happens to house a truly world class bar, the Café Botteltje. After rushing to check in and literally throwing our bikes in the hotel garage, we took our positions at the bar. Still in our cycling gear. Shamu inexplicably retired to his room for a kip at this point, bless, while we took a quick butchers at the beer menu.  With over 400 beers that you had to order by number, we knew were in business. That and the fact that all 27 rooms take their names from Belgian breweries – mine was the Achouffe suite as you asked so nicely. So comprehensive was the menu that they even had the Guido beer that was so conspicuous by its absence in Bruges but more about that in the next blog.

I will post again very shortly with all the glorious details about the beer we encountered here. In the meantime, enjoy the description of the Hotel Marion’s range of unique room offers taken from its website. Someone in marketing earned their corn the day this was drafted:

A quietly familiaal hotel with 27 rooms. But nevertheless very central lain, near the range, the night life and the shop streets.

The hotel has several rooms types. Thus can you spend the night in a room with bath or shower, and want you yourself once extra nicely spoil then are possible this certain in one of the luxery rooms. All chambers have television, radio, tel. and of course a bathroom. It speaks for itself that the luxery rooms still have more comfort. Thus there are a fair, safe, a small frigidaire and coffee or tea facilities

Extra nicely spoil? Quite. Until next time, goodbye.

Posted in: Beer, Belgium, Cycling