Lies, from Liesellove tells:
A weekend away in Middelkerke / Westende
If you are passionate about life you do things you wouldn’t do otherwise. That just about sums the motto I live by.
Who am I? My name is Lies, mother of three and always up for a fresh challenge. I have been blogging on ‘liesellove.be’ for five years now. I simply wanted to share my passions and that’s how my blog grew into what it is today, a spot where I can pour out my heart, where I write about motherhood. But also travel reports, DIY ideas and tips of all kinds find their way onto my blog.
When I first started sharing my travel reports more than 10 years ago, I never thought that blogging would become a new hobby for me. Once upon a time, it was all about my passion for travel, a bug I still haven’t managed to get out of my system. This year, we’ll be taking the whole family to Australia.Aside from that, we keep criss-crossing the country, in search of many great adventures...
The occasional dose of Vitamin Sea never goes astray, all the more now we have come to realise that life by the sea is something the Liesellove gang actually craves. Feeling another craving coming on, we recently drove in the direction of our beloved North Sea to revisit the seaside resort I had practically worn a path to as a child: Middelkerke. And with the typical Belgian weather living up to its reputation these past few weeks, we literally got our cobwebs blown away at times. But, in spite of that, we had a brilliant time.
We serenely set off on Saturday morning because, in my book, weekends away are all about unwinding, not about rushing and racing. An hour later our car was parked at Aparthotel Zon & Zee in Wenduine and the fun could start.
Obvious as it may seem, we do forget sometimes how invigorating a walk along the coastline can be. We walked from Westende in the direction of Middelkerke, covering quite a distance. Returning on foot was no longer an option for the kiddies, so it’s best to bear that in mind. Luckily, there was the coastal tram but you could also hire bikes.
Beaufort – Permanent Sculpture Park
Beaufort is an art project that stretches across several coastal towns. Various works of art from previous Beaufort editions were left in situ, three of which you can admire in Middelkerke/Westende: “Caterpillar 5bis”, “I can hear it” and “Olnetop”. Our kids especially loved “I can hear it”, not just because they could listen to the sea but mainly because they were able to run around to their hearts’ content. A great location for some stunning snapshots by the way!
All along the promenade, you’ll come across bronze comic statues. Not surprising given that Middelkerke is the comic town of Belgium. As our children are not of reading age yet and don’t really know the cartoon heroes, the murals went over their head but they really liked the statues. If they had gotten their way they would have scaled every single one of them.
Incidentally, did you know that the entire comic statues trail is 8 kilometres long? It runs along nodes 71-72-74-73-71.
I don’t know about your children, but any time we’re at the Belgian Coast, our lot want a spin in a go-cart. This time round, we hired a separate cart for each of our three eldest to spare us from all the pedalling, ha! ha! We rented our go-carts from Joli Rent.
Pet farm Lettenhof
Faced with a typical spell of Belgian weather which simply made it too wet and cold to spend hours on the promenade and beach, we decided to look for alternative activities. On days like these, a pet farm is always a good idea. Pet farm Lettenhof is an artisan farm with as added bonus a large outdoor playground. The weather certainly didn’t stop our kids from enjoying themselves while we relaxed over a hot cup of coffee and a local beer.
The Warande Tower
In the Warande tower you can climb up to 20 metres above ground level. Your efforts are rewarded with a view of the Warande Dunes, Middelkerke and Westende. We visited the tower in between the showers.
As we were driving towards the Dronkenput, we weren’t quite sure what to expect but it turned out to be a hilarious experience. On arrival (it is situated in the heart of a residential area) you need to ring the doorbell so that the concierge can open the door to you. The Dronkenput dates from the end of the 19th century and basically came about as a result of the flourishing tourist industry and the ensuing increased need for drinking water. To address that need Middelkerke dug a 9-metre deep pit, sunk a concrete reservoir in it with the idea of filling it with water. However, matters never reached that stage because the groundwater pushed the 213 ton reservoir angled up.
De Dronkenput derives its name from the fact that you instinctively want to keep parallel to the numerous slanting pillars in the large room and the level water surface, giving you the feeling that you are losing your balance. Discovering the pit was really exciting because neither the children nor we managed to keep our balance. A short but genuinely comical stop, so if you’re at a loose end, call in!
On the beach
Going to the seaside also means getting as close to the sea as possible. On this particular occasion, our clothes remained relatively dry but more so because of the inclement weather than anything else. But in spite of that, it felt great to inhale the sea air. Bonus of Middelkerke beach? You can get to the beach really quickly which is a godsend with tiny tots and a buggy. Definitely the highlight of our weekend in Middelkerke as far as I am concerned!
Between Westende and Middelkerke, you’ll come across quite a few beach bars, i.e. bars located on the beach. You can pick any one of them because they all looked great to us. All the bars we passed have playing facilities for children, are genuinely child-friendly so they are definitely worth popping into for a drink as the kids can play away.
C-Aparthotel Zon & Zee
We spent one night at the Aparthotel and had a wonderful night’s sleep. The hotel is not right on the promenade but it does have car park. We were given a family room with a double bed, a bunk bed and a cot and could even have cooked in our studio apartment if we had felt like it. The sitting room also had a sofa bed but we all slept in the same room and, after a day by the sea, slept like babies.
Breakfast is a must, really extensive, with all the trimmings. Besides, there’s a play area for the children which we, as a large family, always consider a bonus. Because of the size of our family, we rarely stay in hotels these days but this one I am happy to recommend!
Den Toogoloog is a cosy bistro with an extensive beer list. A spot where Stefaan was in his element, ha! ha! As this spot can get really busy I would advise you to book ahead if you’re thinking of bringing children. We were given a table at the front of the business where we could park our buggy. They provide high chairs and entertainment (i.e. colouring pictures) for the smallies. Though the menu isn’t extensive, they do serve dishes like home-made shrimp croquettes, lasagne and delectable tapas, which were all equally wonderful.
Muchacha is one of the beach bars on Middelkerke beach. We had a few drinks, #sorrynotsorry, and a plate of tapas here to satisfy the first pangs of hunger. The children had a great time playing around in the sand, the playhouse and on the slides. At Muchacha you get served with a smile, which makes it all the more enjoyable.
This brasserie is situated right in the middle of the promenade and is the perfect stop to warm yourself up (in our case) for a while. They have an extensive lunch menu and the nice thing about this place is that they even offer you a doggie bag of their own accord. From 14:00, they also serve the traditional pancakes etc.
If you were thinking of doing the 25-kilometre cycle trail that takes you through nature and the Middelkerke and Westende hinterland you can hire bikes from Joli Sports, located at 500 metres from the Aparthotel. The trail runs via nodes 81-60-80-52-77-75-16-59-19-2-12-81. Given the weather, cycling wasn’t an option for us but it would be a great idea.
Brouwerij Jus De Mer
Middelkerke has its own speciality beer which is brewed at Brouwerij Jus de Mer. The brewery can be visited by appointment. As our children are really small we chose not to in spite of the fact that Stefaan had taken a real shine to this local beer!