After a pretty ordinary summer, with more days of rain than sunshine, with the arrival of autumn the sun decided to grace us with its presence.
Our first stop down the canal fron Verne, was Diksmuide, which being located in a pastoral area, is famous for its butter.
In 1914 the Germans overran Belgium hurrying towards the North Sea and the seaports of Calais and Dunkerque. But the Belgiums opened the locks at Nieuwpoort flooding the Yser river and halting the advancing army, creating a front along the river and resulting in a stalemate for 4 long years.
The town was rebuilt in 1920 and a peace tower was constructed. This was demolished after WW2 and rebuilt in 1950 as it had been used for Nazi ceremonies and celebrations.
We spent 3 days in Diksmuide visiting both the Peace Tower and the Trench of Death.
View from the top of the Peace Tower. Can you spot Joie de Vivre?
Leaving Diksmuide we slowly made our way back to Nieuwpoort to pick up our barbecue, and then onto town of Oudenburg, which has nothing to recommend it other than it is reputedly the oldest town in Flanders, being settled by the Romans in the 4th century AD.
It was only a short trip to Oostende and a booked mooring at the Royal North Sea Yacht Club.
We loved this seaside town. Our mooring was tidal with a view over the port. Over the weekend the yacht club hosted a European laser championship and with the improvement in the weather it seemed as though the whole Belgium population had made a trip to the coast.
Wide sandy beaches, a scenic boardwalk and a busy port, and a welcoming yacht club, what more can I say!
We unloaded the bikes and rode off to the Antlantic Wall museum, another of the world wars battle sites in this part of the world.
First constructed by the Germans in WW1 it was extended by the Nazis between 1942 and 1944 as part of their strategic fortifications along the coast of continental Europe and Scandinavia. It was easily overrun just hours after the allied invasion on D-Day.
Over the summer,from both north to south of Oostende a collection of sculptural displays were exhibited which meant other bike ride!
So much to see in this exuberant seaside town, but with the weather improving we decide to take to sea again and travel north to the port of Zeebrugge.
After the delights of Oostende Zeebrugge was quite a disappointment. Not much to the town, and at €41 for the night with no amenities it is not a port we will rush back to. Some clever yachtsmen arrived after the harbour master had clocked off for the night and left before he arrived the next day to avoid this outrageous cost.
But where to next?
Back to what we now consider to be our home port in Brugge for some cleaning, maintenance and to catch up with friends. Then we will decide.