When I woke up this morning, the skies above Boulogne were grey and rain was pouring. That’s it, Summer’s over… I dressed accordingly. Away went the shorts, out came a jumper.
I was staying at the Opal’Inn which is where I stayed during my visit to Boulogne in November – I particularly liked the buffet breakfast they do. I was surprised that they were playing Greek music in the breakfast room… I’m not quite sure why, I wasn’t aware it was Greek owned or anything – but it kept me happy. I ate as I watched the French news – the usual stuff: holiday getaway, travel chaos, etc.
In the rain I didn’t really feel like hanging about so I was on the move by 10. Within half an hour I was the other side of Calais and the Sun came out once more. Before I left France I detoured in to Bray-Dunes – the most Northern part of France. The Sun was shining but it was quite windy and the Sea looked a bit rough – not a day for swimming then, but fine for a walk along the beach (and an ice cream)!
Part of the main car park had been transformed in to a mini festival site – and the market was there too. I later found out this was for the “Musique en Crèpuscule” (Music in the twighlight or something like that, according to Google Translate)…
I pottered along to the French/Belgian border where I stopped again to take a photo on the bridge over the canal… and then it was on in to Belgium.
It took another 2 hours to get to my destination for today: Belgium’s second city and largest port, Antwerp. I’ve driven round it several times, but never been in to it until now – and my curiosity of the city grew when Paul Hollywood did one episode of his City Bakes series in the city.
Apart from a little traffic as I went past Jabbeke and Bruges, and of course coming in to Antwerp itself, the roads today were fairly clear so I made good time.
Tonight I’m in a budget hotel a little way out of the centre – but only 15 minutes by tram to the Centraal Station – with the nearest tram stop direclty opposite the hotel. The hotel also sells discount public transport tickets – €16 for a pass for 10 singles (ie €1,60 each) instead of full price €3,20 for a single.
Wanting to get my money’s worth out of my travel pass, I went in to the city centre and had a walk about – found my way to the Grote Markt (the main market square), found somewhere for lunch near the central station, and took a few photos.
My top top for Antwerp: Look up as you walk along the streets. The style/arcitecture in a lot of the buildings makes them quite interesting to look at.
I took the tram back to the hotel, needing a quick rest after all that walking about sightseeing. In addition, throughout the afternoon it had warmed up quite considerably while the wind at the same time was no longer so obvious. In light of the change in weather conditions I ditched the trousers and jumper, and reverted to shorts, t-shirt and a hat. Back to the Summer clothes then.
It turned out to be a very nice, warm but not too hot evening. As the afternoon turned in to evening I went back out in to the centre to find something to eat. It was mostly a variation of Pizza & Pasta, or Steak & Burgers, or fast food, or very expensive restaurants. There was a Greek restaurant which I found, but it was full – but I’ll probably eat Greek one night. So pizza it was then.
My pizza was followed by some photos over the Schelde River and then a slow walk back to the tram stop, via another ice cream stand, and then as the Sun started setting I made my way back to the hotel.
As for the hotel itself: It’s pretty basic but not bad, there’s a nice bar/lounge area – not a manned bar, it’s just a vending machine – but I can sit here on the sofa with a drink and the TV on and write this blog (Internet in my room isn’t great). Free breakfast in the morning, and late check-out (12 midday) on Sundays.
It’s made such a difference, getting a morning ferry on Friday. When I did my German trip I arrived at my first overnight stop late at night so I didn’t do any sight seeing until the morning, meaning I was driving in the afternoon – repeat all the way to Germany.
This time I’m hoping to do driving in the morning, sight seeing and relaxing in the afternoon – where possible. It saves having to get to a hotel, check-in and then go straight for dinner before everything closes. This will probably (definitely) go out the window once the longer days of driving come in to play later in the week.
Tomorrow I’ll be passing through the Netherlands on the way to Germany, my home until Thursday morning now. My first stop in Germany is Duisburg. Not sure what time I’ll leave Antwerp – I may want to hang around and leave my car at the hotel – or I may just want to get on the road.
I’ll work that out in the morning though. I’m off to bed now.
Today’s Mileage: 154
Accumulative Mileage: 369.3