Sunday 12th December 2022 Zeebrugge for Blankenberge
Looking out of our window the weather did not look promising, it was misty and there was what looked like light rain falling. After Iona had docked I went out onto our balcony and below on the quayside was an impressive array of coaches.
We went down for a light breakfast at the Coral restaurant – very easy as the nearby aft lifts took us straight there. Thankfully we know understood how the ‘booking’ system worked, we joined a small queue and after having our temperature checked we registered at the desk and were escorted immediately to a table for two.
Thankfully our negative Covid test in Southampton, when boarding, would allow us to enter Belgium without any other Covid related formalities.
Once off the ship we were directed to a shuttle bus for Blakenberge. Our cruise cards were scanned and we settled down to wait for the coach to fill. The front door of the coach was closed and the driver had a Perspex screen covering almost all the space behind her seat. Everyone had to board using the the steep stairs at the side door.
The weather was even les encouraging as the coach drove to Blankenberge as by now heavy rain was falling.
Sunday 12th December Blankenberge
We left the coach at the usual drop-off point at the side of St. Antonius Church and walked across the small park and then into the pedestrian precinct. On our left was this large sign for Blankenberge at the side of a marquee in the Christmas Market. As we walked towards the promenade and the beach we passed the rest of the Christmas Market. This was ‘built’ on the whole car parkby the precenct. The entrance was opposite the Terminus bar but by the looks of of it everywhere was closed inside.
Up the precinct we went into what looked like a pop-up Christmas Shop mainly to get out of the drizzle! The warehouse was full of every Christmas type of decoration and just like the UK ones most were from China and we were not enthusiastic enough to buy anything.
Outside the drizzle had eased and we walked up to the steps to the promenade and decided it was time for a warming drink.
We turned left and walked back towards the railway station parallel to the precinct looking for an open bar or café.
In a small square with bars on opposite sides we went into the first one on our right, Mystic. The bar had an outside area covered by an awning and we sat away from the other customers as nether of us felt comfortable about going inside.
After a lengthy wait we ordered two hot chocolates. The downside of being outside under an awning was the drifting cigarette smoke for all the other customers, made worse when the table next to us was occupied. Our hot chocolate arrived and the milk was lukewarm and it took quite a lot of vigorous stirring to dissolve the chocolate. When asked for our bill we just told the cost – nothing printed.
8.60 Euros for probably the worst hot chocolate in Blankenberge
The Promenade – Zeedijk
Looking back down the pedestrian precinct everywhere looked grey and wet. At the promenade we turned right to pass the casino and the climbing babies.
We were now walking into the wind and the drizzle – not the best place to be in Blankenberge but we had decided this visit we would go to the Belgium Pier. The pier looked to have cranes and lots of concrete blocks around it, which only made us more curious.
The Belgium Pier – Blankenberge
The pier was definitely having a lot of work being done to it. The concrete coffer dam stretched right out to almost the end of the pier. There was now no access to what remained of the pier’s structure from the promenade and we had to walk down a man-made road that took us to the end of the pier. On our right was the coffer dam and on our left a wall of sand. Looking over the sand we could see the beach near the pier.
As we climbed up to the cafe at the end of the pier the work being done became more obvious as we could now see along what remained of the pier.
Once up on the pier itself we could now see the apartments lining Blakenberge promenade and the beach.
As we walked around the café we were hit by the wind and even more drizzle!
These folks, like us, were enjoying the bracing sea air.
On this side of the pier a temporary road had been laid for cars to drive up to the Café. Now we were around the building we could see down into coffer dam and the stripped pier stretching back to the promenade.