Building Castles in the Sand

Posted: July 21, 2010 in Friends, Leisure

It’s July and it’s summer.

Correction.  It’s almost the END of July and it’s STILL summer. I’m not sure whether to holler a ‘Yeah!’ or not, but maybe I should once my summer hols proper begins next Wednesday……..YEAH! and a premature one at that 😀

One thing’s for sure, I noticed Belgians are ecstatic when summer unfolds and when the temperature soars to above 25 °C, however, when the mercury rises to 30 °C, it is becoming too hot for them, et moi aussi 😉

The last 2 or 3 weeks have been nothing short of heat and more heat! In BeNeLux, there is even a definition for “heat wave”.  A heat wave is defined as a period of at least 5 consecutive days in which the maximum temperature exceeds 25 °C provided that on at least 3 days in this period the maximum temperature exceeds 30 °C.

Oh yes, we have had a rollercoaster of the heat wave cycle since we started flipping the calendar overnight from 30th June to 1st July. From a cool 15 °C on 30th June, the temperature soared to an amazingly high 30 °C on Thursday, 1st July! Mathematically, that’s 100% increment! The following two days were even hotter.  The temperature rose to as high as 36 °C on Saturday…..and the majority of the Belgian homes do not have air conditioners.  Well, what’s the point of having one anyway, when we only get to experience the heat wave for 2 months or less a year? 

We owned a rickety old table fan which cools the night temperature in the boys’ bedroom and a 1-metre high portable nordic cylindrical fan in our living room.  That’s all. 

I have learnt the basic rules of cooling down the house, nature’s way, here in Belgium and it almost always works, unless of course if I forgot a step or two. As soon as I got up in the morning, I would open the windows and let the cool morning breeze whooshed into our entire house, mixing, mingling and breaking down the stale air particles from the previous night.  Before the sun hits our window and door panes, I’d draw the curtains or drapes or blinds and close the windows.  This will deflect any hot air swirling inside the house. It works all the time and it’s gratis! The house may be dark inside, but who cares.  I want a cool, shady interior on a hot summer exterior. My call 😉

Before the ‘90s, heat waves occurred about once every 8 years in Belgium, however, the intensity of the change in climates in the last decade has ignited this annual heat wave.  Yes, blame it on the effects of Global Warming, and the main culprit(s)? Human-induced activities such as the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation which increased the levels of carbon dioxide.  Welcome to Planet Earth’s Greenhouse Effect! A chockablock of bad gas, and more foul smelling colourless fumes. Pffff!!!!

Oxygen!  I need MY oxygen!!  My life-sustaining element on Earth. LOL!

In Belgium, the best place to go to when temperatures elsewhere soar to 30 °C and above, is the Coast (the North Sea).  The best hideaway, an escapade from the mundane city life and the heat! The mercury level is bound to drop by 3 to 4 degrees Celsius due to the effect of the sea-breeze (or onshore breeze) which the cooler air from the sea moves inland.

We did not decline the offer when some good friends of ours invited us to Blankenberge on Sunday, 18th July. It would have taken us 1 hour 30 mins by train from Leuven to Blankenberge (traffic free). We, however, took the car and it took us a bit more than 2 hours with the inevitable traffics direction Ghent and Bruges.  We left 24 °C Leuven and arrived a cool 20 °C Blankenberge.

The Belgian Coastline is divided into 3 sections. The East Coast, the Mid Coast and the West Coast.  Blankenberge is a municipality which lies in the East Coast. The end-to-end distance from Knokke-Heist on the Dutch frontier to De Panne on the French border is 67km.  A Coast Tram is accessible to shuttle between stops and it takes some 2.5 hours to cover the entire route.  I haven’t done that, but hey, there’s gotta be a first time some time…… some day….one day…. 

While in Blankenberge, we assembled briefly at our friends’ holiday apartment.  Let’s call it a look-see visit, because our intention was to spend some time gallivanting around the coastline 😀

But it was already 1pm and our stomachs were rumbling for FOOD! 

Luckily, my friend had made a reservation at the Restaurant Au Venetien along the sea bank. It was full house when we got there PLUS there were 8 of us (including two very famished teenaged boys)!

We took the table d’hôte menu which was a whole lot economical than going à la carte. With a prix fixe menu tagged at Eur25 pp, it was inexpensive. We had a satiable 4-course meal of soup, starter, main course and dessert/ coffee or tea.

For a resto-brasserie standard, I thought the plates were eye-catching. Here’re some pictures to prove my point 🙂

After the scrumptious meal, the guys headed for the 18-hole mini golf course nearby, while the girls spent some academic moments at the Sand World, a yearly event of sand sculptures in Blankenberge.  This year’s theme is “Sand World, Around the World”.  Our journey took us to more than 40 countries covering 5 continents and 100 destinations.  Stunning! Fascinating! “Around the World” were sculptured by more than 40 talented sand artists from 9 nations (Belgium, Germany, Austria, Spain, Italy, Russia, Ukraine, Poland and Mexico).  Thanks to them, I managed to capture some of their masterpieces, which I wanted to share with you all…


Check out the final masterpiece below. It’s so life-like, innit? I’m really impressed…..*chuckle* LOL!

By the way, ladies, thanks for the great tour of Blankenberge! Let’s do it again!

And to all Belgians, Happy National Feast Day!

Ciao and take care!

  1. Dada says:

    Woohoo! Che is gonna bring mom & I there. It’s going to be fun. Will share in the next comment. Thank you che.

  2. Nasifriet says:

    Woohoo! U n mum r finally here! Yep, we gotta go there before the sand scultures crumble by end Aug! No worries, we still have plenty of time 😀

  3. Nasifriet says:

    We MADE it there, Da!!!! I bet you have lot of pics and stories to share when you’re back in KCH. I hope you and mum enjoyed your stay here in BE. Sorry, the weather’s a bit of a damper 😦 Will start blogging with stories of our summer hols ’10………..when I get the time 😉

  4. When we lived in San Jose, we’d leave the windows open at night to let the hot air out and the cool air in. Then we’d shut everything up tight in the morning. It kept the house cool through the midday. But by the end of the day the house was scorching.

    Great looking sand sculptures there! I like the sumo warriors.

  5. Nasifriet says:

    Thanks, Nate (& Annie)! I guess it’s no surprise why you fell for the sumo warriors….. er…let me guess…. Hawaii (Japanese influence) ? 😀 Well, you’re not the only one, ‘cos both my boys loved those wrestlers, too!

    I love all the pictures you took on your blog, and of course, your you tubes. If you haven’t noticed, I posted one of your you tubes in my write up “Baking is not really my cup of tea, or is it?” Thanks for that!

    Cheers !

  6. […] related post, you may want to check out:  Murphy’s Law, or was it just…..? and Building Castles in the Sand Rate this: Share this:EmailFacebookStumbleUponTwitterDiggLike this:LikeBe the first to like this […]

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