Blogster Erika Van Tielen tells
My name is Erika Van Tielen, mother to 2 sons (Finn (6) and Rowen (4)), actress and presenter. I blog about my life (under and away from the spotlights), but especially about motherhood and travel (with and without children). I used to work as a reporter for Vlaanderen Vakantieland (Flanders, a great place to holiday); I was born with itchy feet after all :).
ERIKA on CITY TRIP: DE HAAN
I absolutely adore her. The sea. Our sea. There at, albeit not the most exotic, but definitely the very fascinating Belgian Coast. Of late, I seem to be drawn to it. For a day or a weekend. Just to be away from it all for a bit. Resisting the temptation to fill my days off as efficiently and meaningful as possible. Simply enjoying the moment and ditching all those to-do lists for a while. Far more worthwhile than all those (so-called) sensible things combined, wouldn’t you think?
The last time, a week or two ago, I left the kids at home and took my mum and sister. For that mother-daughter weekend we had been thinking about for ages but never got around to.
Just the three of us. Talking, laughing, eating, drinking, sauntering around, walking, go-carting... in the picturesque De Haan. Not the seaside resort with the most entertainment, but definitely the most stunning one. That belle époque tram station! Those phenomenal villas in the Anglo-Norman style! La Potinière Estate! No high-rise, no garish promenade. Just great boutiques, delightful hotels and wonderful restaurants.
On Saturday, we got in a cappuccino at Koffie- en theebar Bartolomé, an Aperol on the terrace of La Potinière, a walk through the Concessie quarter and the dunes, a Hugo in Strandbar Shiva Beach and dinner at restaurant Bleu Chaud (The Epicurean West). After a relaxing Sunday morning, we went to indulge our culinary senses on the terrace of the highly acclaimed De Kruidenmolen (The Epicurean West), the restaurant run by North Sea Chef Stijn Bauwens and his wife in Klemskerke, just outside De Haan.
Somewhere in between, we found the time to sleep (and enjoy a lavish breakfast) at Hotel Astel (Q label), rural on the outside, slick on the inside.
We ecstatic. All the news caught up on. And rested.
Various works of art from previous Beaufort editions were left in situ or given a new spot. They are still awaiting your discovery, by bike, on foot or by tram. In De Haan - Wenduine, there is 1 more work of art for you to admire: Saqueando nuestra historia, a tunnel that runs from the Zeepreventorium (sea-side preventorium) to the beach. It features a mural that depicts people and stories from Chilean history. Location of the tunnel: near the Zeepreventorium. Check out this site for all the works of art by town.
Aside from the Beaufort works, you can also enjoy art in public spaces during Sculptures@Sea, which runs in De Haan from 30 March until 30 September. The coastal town even boasts a sculpture park with 50 sculptures of famous artists. The sculptures in stone, marble, polyester and bronze will be dotted along the coastline from Vosseslag all the way to Wenduine. They were made by artists Patrick Dasseville, Linde Ergo, Dirk Gitsels, Manon Huguenin, Henk Korthuys and Günter G. Müller. Besides the monumental sculptures of Sculptures@Sea, you can also visit an exhibition of smaller sculptures by the same artists in the sculpture garden at Kennedylaan 23.
Discovering De Haan and Wenduine via the Kustwandelroute (Coastal hiking trail)
Ideal combination of beach and woodland walks. Looking out onto the sea and the hinterland from the Spioenkop in Wenduine, before making your way back to the picturesque De Haan via the dune forests. Culture and nature, hand in hand.
This 9 km-long trail is signposted at the various intersections. You can start at intersection 54 (junction of Leopoldplein and the Promenade in De Haan).
This beach club in De Haan is the ideal spot to practise your favourite sport on a stunning white beach that runs all the way to the breath-taking natural dunes along our North Sea.
Tram station De Haan
The listed tram station is a stunning example of Anglo-Norman craftsmanship which is so typical of the belle époque architecture that graces the Belgian Coast. These days, this charming building among other things houses the tourist information office.
The Concessie quarter
Historic villa district in the Anglo-Norman style that effortlessly stood the test of time. Must see: Villa Savoyarde (residence of Albert Einstein in 1933, Shakespearelaan), the van Vaerewyck villas and the current town hall (once upon a time the first luxury hotel with running water, Leopoldlaan 24). This quarter even has its own Einstein statue.
Nature reserve ‘De Kijkuit’ is the oldest dune area, managed by Natuurpunt. The dunes have been protected against excessive footfall since the 70s with the result that Mother Nature was able to develop itself unhindered. In spite of its small surface area, the fauna and flora is surprisingly rich.
Estate ‘La Potinière’ (2.2 ha) is the town’s green lung. This child-friendly city park boasts numerous leisure facilities: 3 tennis courts, a mini-golf course, a sunbathing lawn, 2 playgrounds, a pétanque court, and in the centre, a multi-functional pavilion with cafeteria.
De Haan’s dune forests are one of the green gems of the Belgian Coast. The area consists of three sections and, all in all, covers no less than 152 hectares. Here, you can enjoy both the open dune landscape with its typical coastal fauna and flora and the vast afforested dunes.
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