Blogger Yannick De Pauw from Soms Ook Heimwee tells
Yannick is the photographer and driving force behind the visual Belgian travel blog “somsookheimwee.be”. The idea behind his blog? Enticing confirmed doubters and the faint-hearted to explore the world with his breath-taking photographs and captivating stories. Hard to believe perhaps, but three years ago, Yannick too found it hard to take that first step and to set off into the great unknown on his own. Well and truly bitten by the travel bug, he now grasps every opportunity, together with the Soms Ook Heimwee team, to discover a new part of the world, be it far afield or close by. An impulsive weekend break or a long trip to exotic destinations... with camera in tow and Springsteen playing away, Yannick is up for anything! Because with every step in the unknown, you find yourself a little bit more lost. Once you no longer feel out of your depth however, you’re in for something unforgettable...
WILD DUNES AND NOSTALGIA IN BREDENE
The Belgian Coast. To some, happy childhood memories, made up of go-cart races, selling paper flowers and playing jokari at sunset, to others a place full of horrible coastlines with grey high-rise, hordes of tourists in ridiculously tight and optimistic summer garb and dull and overpriced view-of-the-promenade shrimp croquettes, not to mention salmonella mussels.
In between, the dubious day-trippers, in search of some much-needed fresh air, staring into the grey waters of the North Sea and strolling along the water’s edge, enjoying the sight of seagulls, shells and a lonely sailing boat. Take it from me, in the midst of all that majestic grey and those mind-boggling summer crowds, there’s no escaping the beauty of our Belgian Coast. The Sea for those looking for that je ne sais quoi! We hit the road in Bredene and found exactly what we were looking for: peace at the Coast.
Peace in the dunes of Bredene
First though, time to hold up my hands: it turned out that I knew the geography of Thailand and the Australian Continent better than that of West Flanders. Bredene, uh, that’s somewhere, uh, on the left isn’t it? Midway between the hip and grotesque Ostend and the charming and historical De Haan in other words. A little bit different than the rest, no busy terraces and pop-up shops on the promenade to be found here I’ll have you know! That’s Bredene for you, one busy motorway and then huge dunes that form the backdrop to a vast, spacious beach with rustic piers trying to embrace the wide sea.
Here, you can still get away from it all. Heading into the dunes, finding a sheltered spot, putting down your towel, out of sight and earshot. Add a few tapas, a bottle of vino and a languishing sun: the stuff of dreams!
Bredene is also the perfect city-looping base for your average marginal locals’ fanatic. As in the legendary travel trend of 2018, in case you need reminding. Locals like De Puinhoop, Café Zonder Naam or De Zeemeeuw rarely disappoint. This is where those who wouldn’t leave our Coast for love or money, and even take the winter in their stride here, get their daily fix of bottled Duvel and frothy glasses of beer.
The nicest beach on the Belgian Coast? Bredene Beach!
Mustered up some Dutch courage? Habitual nudists don’t need to reach for the bottle but if you, as timid Fleming, are less confident about taking off your clothes, a shot in Café Zonder Naam could do wonders if you were thinking of venturing onto the famous nudist beach. There’s nothing wrong with it and the added bonus is that you won’t have any tan lines to worry about afterwards. Strutting around with my large telescopic lens seemed somewhat inappropriate, so no piquant photographs I’m afraid. Apologies.
A little less known but more attractive to the more upstanding among us is the enormous surf and kite area on the beach of Bredene. Here you will find the excellent Twins club, where you can follow induction and other courses in surfing, supping, kite-surfing or any other roaring-waves business. With a bar on the beach, you can watch the bronzed surf boys and feisty surf chicks while sipping your third Aperol Spritz of the day to your heart’s content.
As walking is always far nicer when you have a destination in mind, why not chance a bracing walk to another Belgian seaside resort? Nothing to it, simply head off in the direction of the sea and when you’re about to get your feet wet, turn left or right. In Bredene, the left leads to a pontoon that will take you to the bustling cosmopolitan of Ostend, right will ultimately take you to the picturesque and somewhat lofty De Haan. Forewarned is forearmed: a shrimp-stuffed tomato salad will cost you 30 euro here.
A sprig of weed from the sea on your plate.
Even your culinary inner would relish a trip to Bredene. At Le Homard et La Moule (that’s lobster and mussel to you and me) for instance, Chef Donald Deschagt works his culinary magic with the weed from the sea: seaweed. Aside from offering you a sublime dining experience in his gold-back restaurant in downtown Bredene and selling to-go lobster boxes for those fancier picnics on the beach, he also organises herb and seaweed foraging walks through the dunes and along the surging waves. #hetlekkerewesten, the Coast, so much more than the ubiquitous shrimp croquette. Don’t mind them myself really, though they keep repeating on me.
Camping in Bredene
We slept in the spotless Breeduyn Village holiday homes, right next to the pedestrian bridge that takes you to the dunes. Campers can pitch their tent and unroll their sleeping bag at one of the many campsites or, alternatively, stay in a mobile home.
Looking for some inspiration for a weekend by the sea?
Suitable for bored offspring, young jokers and light-hearted rakes: the official list of the Forgotten Games of the Belgian Coast hereafter!
- Catching crabs on the pier. Essentials: a piece of string, a clothes peg and a freshly picked mussel or another tasty tit-bit
- Sea snail race on granddad’s (or your sleepy sunbathing girl or boyfriend’s) back
- Jokari on the promenade
- Minigolf, in Bredene they even have two of them, twice the fun!
- Collecting starfish and smuggling them in a bucket to the terrace of your apartment on the promenade
- Making paper flowers and selling them at extortionate couteau’kes prices (i.e. classy looking shells)
- Throwing balls back and forth with your pals in the surf
- Long-jumping in the dunes
- Baking sand pies and cooking mud soup
- Imitating the Tour of Flanders with live commentary while slaloming your go-cart through a jam-packed promenade
- Pretending to drown after swimming all the way from England
- Betting that you can swim to England. Time to fish another beer out of the coolbox to quench the thirst that’s sure to come on…