Tram Ticket in a Heatwave…. and another Sunset.
Good morning, it is Wednesday 20th July and we have just eaten breakfast at the Cardiff Hotel. Traditional continental breakfast of Ham, Salami, Slices of Cheese, Jams and massive bread rolls. The breakfast tea is not ‘proper’ tea and is always weaker than dish water. The Coffee smells nice but I can’t drink Coffee first thing.
We eat breakfast in the dining room which looks like Miss Haversham’s boudoir (Dickens’ Great Expectations). Huge bunches of Roses half a metre tall on the tables and probably 25 Orchids adorn the windowsills. The chandeliers are lit and the owners are scurrying about feeding the clientele. They really are eccentric but very professional in an old fashioned way. I would imagine that in its day, this Hotel would have been very busy….. It probably still looks like it did 50 years ago. Breakfast is plentiful and pleasant (apart from the tea).
Back to yesterday…….. We decided to buy a day ticket for the Tram and explore the Flemish Coast. At around 10.30 we got ready and loaded up the rucksack. We walked along to tourist information first to get a map of the coastline, so that we can decide what we want to see. It is already 28 degrees and although I never set foot outside without plastering myself in sunscreen, I’m already burning and I hog every bit of shade I can find. This trip is not going to be easy in this heat but I’m trying not to complain. Being a natural redhead, I turn to Pork Scratchings in the sun and it’s dangerous, it worries me. “There should be air-conditioning on the trams” says I …… how wrong can you be.
We boarded the tram in the middle of Ostende and it was packed, standing room only and we found ourselves literally shoulder to shoulder with people. Mothers with children in pushchairs, a lady in a wheelchair, men going to work, holiday makers loaded up with rubber rings and beach bags, babies screaming because it was too hot. Women fanning themselves, (including me) to try and relieve some of the heat.
Originally we were going to go directly to Du Panne, this is the end of the line. We decided we couldn’t travel this far in this heat, it was overwhelming and the air conditioning, if there was any, wasn’t dealing with the crowd on the tram, so we hopped off at Nieuwpo0rt, we have been here before with the camper and it is a lovely place. Less commercialised than Ostende but since we were here last, a lot of building work has taken place and new houses are springing up all over, along with small office blocks and what may turn out to be hotels.
We wandered a little way from the tram stop and realised that walking around in this heat is not a good idea. So we sat in the shade at a bar and drank water and beer….. Beer… Probably not a good idea in 30 degrees…… then we got back on the tram. This day was not going to be as successful as we had anticipated.
We travelled on to Du Panne Esplanade and got off, as soon as you step of the tram the heat hits you like opening your oven when your Yorkshire Puddings are cooking. (Not the best bit of writing I know but I cannot think of another way to describe this heat!). It is scorching and when you look down the esplanade, you can see the heat rising and making the people in the distance appear hazy and blurred.
So again, we decided to stop this time for lunch, we find a table in the shade. It was 13.30 by now and ‘mad dogs and English men’ and all that…… I am beginning to feel a bit queasy from all this heat.
After 20 minutes of taking pictures we could stick it no more and I think we made a wise decision to get back on the tram and out of the heat.
The tram we boarded at Du Panne was almost empty but it still felt very hot and we had to go to the main station for the changeover of drivers, so as the heat rose in this tin can, we sat and waited…..and waited. It was probably 15 minutes but it seemed like an age! When we started travelling again it became apparent that the back doors of the tram didn’t work, this meant that even when the trams stopped, you didn’t get the rush of fresh air through the doors when they opened, so the heat got worse and worse and was quite sickening. .. Oh happy days!
We hopped off half way at Westende, as we can’t stand it any longer, we went and bought water. Then we got onto the next tram to go back to Ostende. This one too was crammed and when at last we got off we were so relieved.
The breeze was wonderful and we walked along the seafront past all the fresh fish stalls with their Prawn salads and dressed crabs. You can find any fish you want here, smoked, cooked, raw shellfish, big ones small ones…. absolutely anything from the sea.
The Mr bought some prawns in a dressing and as the lady passed them to him with a little fork she said “be careful for the Seagulls”! They are everywhere and they are huge and very aggressive where food is involved! The Mr managed to consume his snack unchallenged though and we walked on along the front sucking up the fresh air……… back at the room we tried to relax even though there is no relief from the heat here either.
So, after a shower, a shower and more water to drink, we loaded the camera bags and took the tripods, a couple of cans of cold beer and the picnic blankets. Tonight we will take some decent pictures of the sunset if we’re lucky. So we plodded through the streets and along the front until we were in the right position to witness the sunset. We weren’t disappointed, at 21.20 we were poised, test shots done, tripods positioned and we opened our beer “Prost” ….. We clinked our cans together and waited. We took picture after picture until at 22.10 the sun finally disappeared over the horizon! What a sight….the colour, the breeze and what a lovely memory we now have. We were still on the beach at 10.45 and the air coming off the sea was tropical.
We walked back up onto the Seafront, a glass of wine at a small bar and then we bought ice-cream and we ate it as we walked slowly back to the room…… at last it’s a bit cooler in the streets… more than can be said for the room… it’s going to be a sticky night……….. Goodnight all…. Granny 😆