Marlo and Kristof, from Along Came An Elephant, recount:
The Belgian North Sea - Bredene, a royal child among seaside resorts
Hi! Marlo and Kristof, an enthusiastic couple that has visited quite a few amazing spots across the globe these past 10 years, here! As we both hold down busy and full-time jobs, out-of-the-box thinking when the travel bug strikes again is a necessity. Luckily, our creativity matches our boundless passion for travel and we always manage to make the most enchanting trips to the most magical, more often than not carefully hidden, places Mother Earth abounds with.
As children we were both dreamers, and nothing much has changed in that department. As adults, we now try to make all those dreams come true, step by step. It all started in 2005, when we first met and - ta-da - fell in love with one another. One thing led to another and we started travelling together. Brilliant, don’t you think? Travel has become an important part of our lives, so much so that we decided to tie the knot abroad (New York, oh yeah!).
In sum, we are the ultimate travel fanatics and love sharing our adventures and ready-made itineraries via our travel blog Along Came an Elephant.
I can still remember how I, as a young boy, sitting in the back of my parents’ car, used to count down the minutes until I could finally admire the vast sea again as soon as we had arrived at the Belgian Coast for our annual holiday. The place where I, together with my parents and younger brother and sister, would holiday for one whole week! A glorious adventure, time and time again! To us the North Sea stood (and still stands) for ‘a Holiday with a capital H’, for freedom, sun and beach. In sum, for endless enjoyment, for holidays as they should be.
Few things in nature are as imposing as the sea. The way it goes on forever, far beyond the horizon even, extending both left and right as far as the eye can see. And what about all that power of the waves rolling all the way to the mainland, to the beach, all to the tranquil sound of the moving current. Glorious, no?
As one learns to appreciate the beauty and power of nature more as one gets older, my love for the sea has grown by the year.
That said, we went to Bredene, right next to Oostende, the queen of seaside resorts, for a glorious weekend by the Belgian North Sea this past September. To us, one thing is a fact. If Oostende is the queen, then Bredene unquestionably deserves the title of royal child! A splendid crown princess!
Bredene is a truly unique seaside resort in Belgium, more specifically because it’s the only town on the Belgian Coast where the natural transition between beach and dunes has been left untouched. Unspoilt nature. Massive dunes with natural vegetation, wonderful for walks or - why not - a lovely picnic.
Promenades and high-rise spoil the natural state of affairs in the other Belgian seaside resorts, and once you have experienced nature in Bredene you’ll wholeheartedly agree with us: S-T-U-N-N-I-N-G.
We spent the first 2-3 hours after we had arrived simply walking along and through the dunes and across the beach, blowing the cobwebs away in a fairly strong sea wind, though under a glorious, benignly smiling autumn sun.
We walked in the direction of Oostende, a few kilometres further up, step by step, trying to get the better of the wind.
Less than a kilometre away from the centre of Bredene, along the line that distinguishes the beach from the dunes, you’ll find Twins Club Bredene, a paradise for confirmed wind and kitesurfers and for those who want to have a bite to eat and something to drink within a stone’s throw of the sea. As we’re unmistakably part of the latter contingent, we contented ourselves with sipping our summery cocktail while watching the incredible stunts the athletes out at sea were treating passers-by and comparable Twins Club bon-vivants like ourselves to. The good life, but just that tiny bit better!
After that, we continued our walk, enjoying the ever further descending sun. We felt free and relaxed. A stunning sunset was the icing on the cake of a brilliant day in and around the dunes and beach of Bredene.
At a culinary level, we had picked a number of places we wanted to cross off our gastronomic bucket list. The Belgian North Sea and brown shrimp are intrinsically linked. So, it only stood to reason that, on our night in Bredene, we would unashamedly go for 2 typical, delectable dishes starring those very shrimp: freshly prepared shrimp croquettes as a starter, an appetiser that made our taste buds squeal with delight.
And next? A typically Belgian main course in the form of shrimp-stuffed tomato with Belgian fries and home-made mayonnaise of course! Divine!
The pièce de résistance of our culinary highlights during our weekend at the Belgian Coast was on the agenda for the next day. We were going to have lunch at the famous Seaweed Chef’s. Yes, you’ve read correctly, Restaurant Le Homard et La Moule is known wide and far for the way it incorporates various types of seaweed in its dishes in a playful, delectable way. We were only dying to check it out.
Since we love discovering new things and as this was going to be an excellent opportunity, it was with great expectations that we walked into the restaurant where we were greeted by the host and hostess, welcoming us to their modern and stylishly decorated restaurant. The decor is as intriguing as it is charming and makes you instantly feel at home. Ready to relish the experience!
Right from the amuse-gueules we were bowled over by the various ways the Seaweed Chef manages to originally incorporate seaweed into the different titbits.
How about shortbread with Parmesan, poppy seed and Japanese wireweed? Not only sounds fantastic but the taste is out of this world! We were also given some home-made sausage, seasoned with seaweed, to try. Salmon sushi with home-made (and slightly spicy!) nori. Yes, even the bread and butter have been given that glorious ‘vegetable of the sea’ touch, which is what seaweed is.
We both chose the 3-course menu, featuring another Le Homard et La Moule classic and the main course of our culinary excursion: lobster served with sea vegetables and North Sea shrimp kombu dashi. A joy to our taste buds, it was exquisite!
After dessert (we went for seaweed cheeses paired with a beer - sure enough - with touches of seaweed, and a dessert with pineapple and pistachio) we had a lovely, final chat with the host and hostess. The love for their job is emphasised by the passion they talk about their restaurant with. Lovely to see and watch.
But like every story, also every weekend comes to an end. After our highly successful gastronomic experience at the Seaweed Chef we went for a final fix of sea breeze and the incredibly beautiful dune landscape, here in Bredene.
Bredene, the only seaside resort on the Belgian Coast where dunes and beach were left to flow into one another unhindered (and truly stunningly so). The views are amazing. To fall… and stay in love with for ever. See you soon, Bredene!
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