So we’re up and at ‘em again this morning. We are on schedule to leave the car park by 08.30…. We thought! How much stuff can you accumulate in one hotel room in 4 days? It took 3 trips to the car, up and down 5 floors in the lift. Unbelievable! We are used to living in our van for 3 weeks, so we just wake up get dressed pack the bed away and drive. This hotel business is nowhere near as easy!
So by the time we get away its 09.00 and Sally Sat Nav says 354 miles with an ETA of 14.34, sounds good, hopefully we won’t hit any road works and with one stop for a coffee and the bathroom, we should get there by 15.30.
It was quite a pain free journey and we hurtled along averaging 80mph most of the way. There were a few areas where we were down to one lane with road works but on the whole incident free. We arrive in Ostende at around 15.00 in glorious sunshine and 29 degrees! The place is packed with people and it has a real holiday season feel.
Cardiff hotel Breakfast Room
Hotel Cardiff – now I know I am Welsh but we didn’t choose this Hotel because of its name. We found it on Booking.com it had good reviews and the price was within our budget. The name was just coincidental. Finding the place was a nightmare, in and out of side streets, in between hundreds of people, through streets that looked pedestrianised but cars and vans were travelling through stopping anywhere to unload and blocking up the whole street. How someone doesn’t get killed is beyond me!
Finally Sally Sat Nav said, “You have reached your destination on the right” sure enough there was a big old fashioned sign saying ‘HOTEL CARDIFF’ ….“Ok… said the Mr, spot the car park?” Park here for a minute, I’ll go in and ask” says I.
OMG! This place is a throwback to the 50s. As I walked in through the door, a shop bell rang to announce my entrance. There is dark red wall paper with murals of war and epic scenes from history. There are tall lamps, floor to ceiling almost, with lamp stands of African Slaves (!). Huge chandeliers drip from the ceiling in the dining room, with sparkling glass beads twinkling in the sun. I stood there for a minute as no-one came, I looked around and could hardly believe what I was seeing. Then as if by magic, a lady probably in her mid-70s appeared behind me and spoke. She probably said “good afternoon” but it was in Belgian, so I had no clue what she said. “Hello, we have made a reservation in the name of ……..”
She looked at me for a minute and said “Aha….. I found it now”.
This lady is quite odd! She is tall and skinny, she looks exactly like Lady Colin Campbell AKA ‘Lady C’ of ‘I’m a Celebrity, Get me out of Here’ fame and because of her accent, she even sounds the same. I signed the forms and completed all the paperwork, produced my passports as ID and said “where do we park?”.
“Oh my dear, if only it was so easy? You can park here, (she pointed to a few spaces nearby), for a maximum of 10 minutes, you must keep going back every 10 minutes to pay. Or you can drop off your cases and park it here” …she pointed at a place on a street map, “here, you can park free, it is only a 10 minutes’ walk”. I said “Is there no public car park” (most hotels have had a public car park but they have been very costly). “There is one but it will cost you heavily and you need to drive around to it”
“We will go there, as the car will be safer and we don’t need to worry about €250 parking fines” I said. She agreed that this may be best then pulled me to the lift. She said “I will explain, here is the key to the building, you must never enter through the restaurant apart from at breakfast. In the lift, you will press ‘0’ when you come for breakfast, at all other times you must press ‘way out’ and enter and leave by the side entrance. Do you understand? You only enter the Restaurant for breakfast!” …… I confirmed that I understood then toddled out to the Mr, who was sat baking in Cilla the Citroën and explained our instructions. “Do you understand?” I said!
So we drove on until we found the underground car park and we dragged our bags for 10 minutes through the streets back to the Hotel, in 30 degrees and with no breeze in the narrow streets it was hot work!
The lift was another 50s creation. I got in with a case and the Mr decided to do the stairs, as one person plus a couple of bags and the lift wouldn’t take the weight (queue diet). I pressed number 1 and when I got to the top couldn’t get out, so trying to stay calm I went down again, there was the Mr, he couldn’t get in at the top of the stairs because the door was locked. So I went up again, this time I waited until the door clicked and sure enough ‘open sesame’ the Mr, who by this time had climbed the stairs twice with his bags, was beetroot red and sweating! I won’t repeat what he said, I had to try hard to stop myself from laughing.
The room is over a noisy street, Seagulls are squawking loudly and it’s stifling hot. Oh…and there is no air conditioning and no fan! Aaaarrgghhh! How will we sleep in this? OK, calm down Granny, you have seen worse rooms, Ibis budget Graz for example! “We left the phone chargers in the car, and my shaver….. all our electrical stuff is in the car!” said the Mr….so he trudged back to the car and returned 15 minutes later, with the cameras and a carrier back full of leads and continental adaptors……oh the joy!
So cool shower, change of clothes and relax for an hour, it certainly has been an experience already and it’s only tea time!
Feeling refreshed, at 18.00 or thereabouts, we dressed and went out. It was lovely in the cool narrow streets, breezy and it smelled of the seaside. Fish, sea, ice-cream. ….oh and the bloody Seagulls!
After supper we witnessed the best sunset of this holiday on Ostende Seafront! It was magical and the sun didn’t set until 22.05 the sky was still red at 23.00 and then out of the blue, a spectacular firework display started. So as we had been ready to leave the little bar, we decided to watch for a while. “Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside”!
We walked around the corner and within 5 minutes, we’re completely disorientated ….here we go …. Lost again. We are always getting lost. When we came out it was daylight and now the evening was in full party mode with thousands of people and neon lights …. It all looked so different! So the Mr went into a Hotel to ask for a street map, the gentleman on the desk, showed him where we were now, “go straight and take the 5th turning on the right!” Sure enough, within 5 minutes we were back at our Hotel.
The room, as we thought, was like a Sauna. The street below was noisy, people were still shouting and even at 01.00 there was so much noise! There was also a Fire Engine outside for a while, with blue light streaming into our room. We left the French doors open for air and thankfully, there didn’t seem to be any Mozzies about. Funnily enough I haven’t been bitten at all this holiday, apart from a Horse Fly in the forest at Heiligenblut.
Sleeping was difficult. The Seagulls were squawking all night, do they ever roost, or sleep?
It was daylight when I finally dropped off …… pooped ……….. Granny 😆