OOSTENDE IN RETROSPECT (31 july 2008)
After a pleasant stay of three weeks at Oostende, I'm still left with a few questions:
Is it a national Belgian sport to allow pretty houses to decay? I photographed two charming looking houses, which had clearly been surrendered to the destructive forces of nature.
In inexorable succession, these charming pieces of architecture are disappearing and replaced by ugly gaps:
Finally, the gaping wounds are superseded by uncomely tourist barracks:
Something else I was wondering about: how do Belgian cooks manage to make spaghetti Bolognese if the only minced meat you can buy is spiced in advance? It's not the first time that I find myself unable to buy ground meat that has not been mixed with spices tasting of sausage.
A third question crops up while we are driving out of Oostende. The council of Oostende uses threats of hefty fines if the public dare to dispose of their waste in another way than by putting it in the prescribed bags on the pavement on the prescribed days. But today is not the day the venerable council of Oostende has prescribed. And we are stuck with two bags of domestic rubbish.
Of course, the council of Oostende has cleverly devised a solution to this problem: near the yacht-basin two receptacles have been placed which -- after insertion of a fifty-cent coin -- should allow the public to dispose of a quantity of trash, at least that's the theory.
After we have loaded our luggage into the car, we top it up with two large, foul-smelling bags, and we drive to the port. When we come at the first waste receptacle, I get out of the car and push the prescribed coin into the slot. When I've pushed it all the way, I can still see it sitting in the slot; it appears to have got stuck, and the municipal installation refuses to accept my refuse. The money is gone and we're still stuck with two full bags.
We drive to the second receptacle. From afar we see heaped up rubbish bags which suggest that this piece of machinery is not functional either. It's the hottest day of the year. We leave Oostende in the company of a pair of foul-smelling waste-bags.
At the first petrol station we see a picnic site that sports a few dumpsters. We stuff the the bags into them so that we don't have to drive three hundred kilometres with two stinking bags on board.