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THE PROMENADE.In Ostend the...
In Ostend the promenade named after KING ALBERT I,is the sunniest part.
It would be a sin to leave Ostend without taking a walk on the traffic-free promenade.
Next to the many tearooms with terraces there is also a sandy beach,where you can surf and do a lot of sport activity.
Albert I Promenade
A walk along the Albert I Promenade is a must. After all, the fresh North Sea air is really why you came, right? Well, in my case, I came because I fell asleep on the train, but the fresh air was nice! The promenade was named after Belgium's third king, Albert I and stretches along the northern length of town. To the west of the Casino, the promenade is more or less right on top of the sea wall, while to the east, there is a long stretch of beach between the pedestrians and the wild water. I suggest keeping your eyes to the north toward the sea, since the buildings that line the promenade to the south are mostly non-descript apartment blocks.
If there's a gale (let's say with winds of more than 100 km/h) the waves jump onto the promenade. Sometimes, when not a lot of tourists are there, you can play the game: staying as long as possible close to the sea, without getting wet.
The part of the promenada where the waves get real high is the one between the casino and the pier.
Well, that's all history now. In fear of a thousand-year-gale (a gale with a force that only comes once in a thousands years) they enlarged the beach so that the waves can't reach the promenade anymore.
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The Royal Galleries
Along the western end of the Albert I Promenade sits the Royal Galleries, a long collonnade built to protect the landed gentry from the sun while they enjoyed 19th century Oostende.
The area around the galleries is protected and does not suffer from the skyscraper build-up that plagues the eastern end.
Near the royal galleries are several nice restaurants and bars, featuring a more upscale clientele than other areas of the city. Of course, the lewd postcards are still available, but at least you can find normal postcards here as well.
Albert I Promenade
Along the length of the beach runs the Albert I Promenade, named for Belgium's third and greatest king. During the First World War, the king led his nation against the Germans, even though he was only in his twenties at the time. (His best-known statement: "Belgium is a nation, not a road." That's pretty good.)
Unfortunately for Albert, the eastern edge of his promenade is fairly grotty. Monstrous ugly skyscrapers crowd the shore and block the sun. Little souvenir shops sell lewd postcards and silly T-shirts expressing Daytona-like slogans. It feels a bit questionable, really.
It's not Monte Carlo. In fact, when I was there, the great seaside Casino Kursaal was not even open for business. That said, it is certainly one of Oostende's larger landmarks; it's bulk sitting in the midst of the promenade, forcing pedestrians to walk around it and dividing the sketchy eastern side from the more upscale western side.
I've heard rumours that the casino will be remodeled and reopened in the near future. I have my doubts whether this will actually occur, since Belgium is after all Belgium, but if it does, it could be a step in the right direction of reclaiming Oostende's glory days.
Between the train station and the Albert I Promenade runs the Visserkaai: the Fisherman's Quay. Lined with escargot and fry vendors, the Visserkaai is a great place to get your grub on before tackling the beach. You also have the chance to explore several boats and ships anchored alongside the quay.
I cannot recommend the escargot enough. It's the local specialty, and in a spicy marinade, they are a fabulous choice for a lunchtime snack.
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Oostende Travel Guide
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