June 29: Mannheim to Ostende, Belgium

We left Charlie and Debbie's about 8AM for the long drive to the sea. We took the autobahn to Saarbrucken and then traveled to Ostende via Luxembourg, Arlon, Bastogne, Namur, Brussels. We arrived at a campsite north of Ostende about 7 PM after a wearying 370 mile trip. It took eleven hours of hard driving to make a distance which could have easily been covered in 7 hours in the States - and the driving conditions were much better than the average in Europe since we had over 100 miles of autobahn.

Our campsite is one of many along the Belgian coastline north of Ostende. We are just over a couple of sand dunes from the sea. Parallel to the ocean at about this distance are dozens of campgrounds and literally hundreds of campers. If you climb to the top of the dunes and look along the coast, there are tints and small "caravan" trailers as far as you can see in both directions. The caravans are in at least a 2:1 majority. In the European camping tradition, many of these tents and trailers are very elaborate, bringing essentially all the comforts of home to the beach.

There are a lot of "penny arcades" and other tourist traps along the road. The beach is surprisingly nice - white sand and a long wide stretch of smooth beach. The whole area is slightly reminiscent of Florida.

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