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Wednesday, March 08, 2006

A Grand Day Out!

Today as planned Nonna and I went to the seaside for a short break. We decided to go to Oostende to book her Easter vacation at the Hotel Rubens on the haven and eat fish in a nice restaurant nearby on the peer.

We left Anderlecht around 10:30 and we arrived in Oostende via Highway 40 one hour later. It was pouring rain but it did not matter, we were happy as schoolchildren on vacation.

We were extremely disappointed when we arrived that the hotel was closed. We found out later that during the winter seasons the hotel is closed on Wednesday and Thursday.

So we went shopping for a little present for Christelle. On Monday she had a knee replacement and Nonna and I planned to go visit her at the Hospital in Zottegem in the afternoon. Because of the rain we actually went to the first shop that looked nice. We went to “Herboristerie La Provence” one of those stores that make you think of sun, heat and summer. They sell special olive oils, teas, herbs, spices, dry flowers, baskets and all kind of nice little thinks we women love. I bought a basket with a special strawberry marmalade, a pot of honey mustard with candy fruits, little napkins with sunflowers and a handmade get-well card.

With our nice little present, still under the pouring rain we went to the restaurant for lunch. Now if you are ever in Oostende please go and eat there. This is the second time we are going there and the food is superb. The Restaurant Van Eyck is right on the Visserkaai where the ferryboats arrive from UK.

Nonna had gambas and a huge sole muniere; I had fish soup and also huge sole muniere. It is not only the food that is excellent but also the presentation and the friendly atmosphere. Mathieu,the manager, is an Italian from Sardegna. Peter is in the kitchen, I did not meet him. When we told Mathieu we came to reserve a room at the hotel for Nona’s Easter vacation and the hotel was closed, he proposed to call Christiane, the hotel manager at home to tell her we where there. He did not find her at home but later he actually found her in the back alley by the restaurant and told her we were inside. She was happy to see us. Hugging and kissing us she recognised us from last year. We booked for Easter with Christiane and left Oostende happy that we had done all the things we came for.

On our way back we stopped in Zottegem to see Christelle at the Hospital. Last time I went to this Hospital was more than twenty years ago. It was then a small clinique with a few rooms. Today it has grown ten times its size and it is now a huge place.

By good luck Herman arrived at the same time at 4:30 from Amsterdam to also see his sister. I was happy to see that Christelle was looking well after her Monday operation. Philip was also there. The room was full of flowers and fruits baskets from previous visitors. She liked the basket we brought from Oostende and wed had a nice visit for an hour. Herman went back home in Lasne with his car and I took Nonna back to Anderlecht to her apartment and drove to Lasne, happy to be home.

This is Belgium at her very best: Oostende, good food, nice people, caring families and lots of rain.


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