That morning after my birthday. We were cruising the highway between Breda with final destination Blankenberge in Belgium. Common on the stereo and my mind was designated to the sea breeze, blue sky, water, sand and a delish mocktail. This will be the last break before the baby is born, I thought. I’d better be a good one!
After two and half hours of driving from home (all inclusive the toilet break for me, which happened every 40 minutes!) we arrived at the destination. A busy coastal village / small city with lots of… well, let’s just say, not my type of tourists. My husband, the green pepper and I, looked at each other and thought “Oh, gosh, what kind of place is this?”
The coastal village Blankenberge is quite famous in various travel booklets. In most of them the village is always described as a favourite for many young families and for years a hip coastal place with its long boulevards and various entertainment for everyone. Well, maybe it was… twenty years ago or something. Blankenberge was totally not what we had in mind when we choose this place and booked a hotel at the boulevard. Think of it like… for Dutch readers then: Scheveningen in a very, very, very crowded weekend. For international readers: Venice beach, I suppose? But Venice beach around 20 years ago.
Plus points Blankenberge
There are, thank goodness, a few plus points of our stay. First of all the hotel. We chose a C Hotel franchise. The C Hotel Helios to be exact. The hotel is newly renovated and clean. The staffs were friendly and the room was spacious. We loved it. Another plus point for a pregnant woman like me at this moment is : that long body pillow (In Bahasa Indonesia we call it guling). I had forgotten to bring mine and was very happy to see that in our hotel room!
One minus point was they did not have enough private parking spaces when we were there. We had to find another parking spot elsewhere, which will cost you from €6 to €15 per day. If you want to walk the distance from the beach, then choose the parking garage or parking street quite far away from the city centre. If you do not want to walk that far, like me at the moment (8 months pregnant), then you can choose parking space near the harbour or near the Monday market.
Child friendly lounges
Second plus point for Blankenberge is the family / child friendly beach lounges. So the description of the travel books is quite accurate, I have to say. Almost every beach lounge at the boulevard has a playing ground for your kids. So when you go there with small children, do not worry, they would be fully entertained. For us, when going to this kind of lounge, everything has to be, well … not totally as perfect as we wanted, but just right for us. Our cup of tea. My green pepper, who is an expert in sound system and music would not relax at all, when sitting at the beach lounge with: 1.Crap music! 2. Crap sound system! 3. Crap vibe! And trust me, you do not want to sit beside a grumpy hubby like him. 🙂
Among all of those lounges we saw on the beach, one was quite to our taste, the Coco Loco Lounge, just in front of our hotel. What we find also strange in Blankenberge is that every beach lounge use a self-service concept. In the Netherlands we are used to be served by lounge staffs and just sit back and relax (spoiled brats! haha), but there you have to go to the kitchen / bar booth to order and pick up your order. Thankfully they have there some nice mocktails. So with a good mocktail, good music, refreshing sea breeze and my little red pepper enjoying her time at the playground, I did have a nice couple of hours at the beach at Blankenberge.
Eat well in Blankenberge
Third plus point: When in Belgium, eat (really!) well! Yes, they are famous for their delicious culinary expertise. Delicious delicatessen like the mussels, the fries, the waffles, the garnalenkroket (shrimp croquette) and the chocolate are just some delicious examples that everyone has to try when visiting Belgium. There are certainly loads more! We found a very nice restaurant just next to the hotel, Picardie.
Sometimes when going to a very touristic place you would not find a very nice restaurant which served dishes with local produces, but this restaurant has that. Not only the dishes were delicious, the staffs were very friendly. We have to admit that this is really hard to find, especially on a very crowded touristic place like Blankenberge. So this restaurant is a hidden gem of the village!
To sum it all up: If you like to go to a very crowded coastal village with your family, then Blankenberge is the place to be. There are indeed plenty fun activities for your children. Near our hotel they have a mini golf field. Around 1 km from where we stay is Sea Life. You can also enjoy the view of the coast at the Pier. For my family this is not the place to be because it is extremely crowded for us. We would rather go to a smaller and quieter ones, like Westende, De Panne or some other small villages on the Belgium coastal line.
However, this place is a good alternative stay when you want to visit Bruges. It is only 13 km from Bruges. So you can combine your vacation with a city trip to the beautiful (yet also crowded) Bruges. And when in Bruges… well, I will tell you all about it on my next post!