I flew to Ostend Airport (EBOS) yesterday for a visit to Bruges. It’s about an hour’s flight in an SR-22 from Denham. Very pleasant too – up over the Essex and Kent countryside, dash across the channel from roughly overhead Manston to Koksijde airbase and then descending down into Ostend for an ILS approach.
The airport is GA-friendly. We were met by a marshalling van and parked on Apron 3 near a few other training and club aircraft. The van drove us to a deserted customs hall where an immigration official checked our passports. We were out of the airport and in a taxi in about ten minutes. We got special GA tickets so that we could bypass check-in queues on our return.
The journey to Bruges is about 20-25 minutes and cost about €90 each way in a taxi. I think this is pretty expensive and I think perhaps it may be cheaper to rent a car from Avis (who have an outlet at the airport) or to take the regular bus service from the aiport to the town. Landing fees, six and a bit hours parking and passenger charges etc. came to about €65 euros. There is no separate handling and you don’t need to book in advance – a flight plan is sufficient. We would have saved €12 if we had stayed under six hours because that’s how much free parking you get. Overall, though, I think Ostend compares reasonably well on price and facilities with similar regional airports in the UK such as Leeds Bradford, Edinburgh or Newquay. There are a couple of restaurants in or near the terminal.
Bruges itself is very pretty and full of old buildings. On this particular Saturday afternoon, it was also full of tourists. We had lunch in a pretty open air cafe. Moules et Frites (or cheese omellet in my case). Afterwards we wandered around and found some quieter spots. I also found an excellent comic book shop where I bought a Biggles comic in Dutch. Just what I need to help with my studies!
We also found a church that had replaced its pews and confessionals with an extraordinary series of artworks, including a lake you could walk over shrouded in mist.
It really was thought-provoking. It reminded me of the Philip Larkin poem, Water:
If I were called in
To construct a religion
I should make use of water.
Going to church
Would entail a fording
To dry, different clothes;
My litany would employ
Images of sousing,
A furious devout drench,
And I should raise in the east
A glass of water
Where any-angled light
Would congregate endlessly.
Bruges is definitely worth visiting in its own right. In practical terms, Ostend is easier to fly to than Le Touquet and hardly any further. If you take the bus from the airport, it needn’t cost very much. I strongly recommend the trip.