De Panne

Beach hut  (click to enlarge)

Went to Belgium for autumn break and stayed in De Panne. It’s the last town at the Belgian west coast bordering France. You can actually see the port of Dunkirk in the far distance. We have been going to De Panne on holidays for over 20 years. The kids love the beach, the pancakes and the Belgian waffles … I love the walks along the waterline in crisp fresh windy autumn weather when the air smells of salty sea water.

A rather wide beach at low tide  (click to enlarge)De Panne has the widest beach of the entire Belgian coast line. Particularly when it is low tide the beach can stretch to a few hundred meters in width. Hence it provides for plenty of space for sun bathers in summer and for a lot of different types of recreation in winter like walking and jogging along the water line or horse riding, or sail cart competitions.

Leopold I  (click to enlarge)After Belgium had declared and been granted independance by the big powers of the 19th century the first King of Belgium, the German Leopold I of Saksen-Coburg first set foot on Belgian territory when he disembarked on the beach of De Panne on the 17th of July 1831, four days before his installation as King of Belgium on 21 July 1831. There is a large monument to commemorate this. De Panne also served as the base for King Albert I during WWI.

Sailing cart competitions   (click to enlarge)De Panne is the only location in Belgium where one can prcatice the sailing cart sport on the beach as only there is the beach wide enough. These carts can accelerate to really strong speeds with the slightest wind. They are a really beautiful sight.

WWII memorial  (click to enlarge)The beach in De Panne also functioned as a staging ground for the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force and French troops in 1940 after Germany invaded France and the allied troops had retretead to the port of Dunkirk and the surrounding beaches. A memorial at the beach today is testimony of De Panne’s contributions to this successful effort of saving the troops by repatriating them to England.

Dunes   (click to enlarge)De Panne has a large protected nature reserve consisting of a small remaining part of what historically was a huge area of sand dunes bordering the sea. It’s a beautiful and quiet oasis of tranquility and peace. It remains one of the key attractions of the seaside town.

Last Updated: 29-10-2014

Copyright © 2014 Hans Dewaele – All rights reserved


The Colors of Autumn

Beautiful autumn colors  (click to enlarge)

I finally decided to get out of Bucharest to take some pictures. I had checked the weather forecast and I was looking for a sunny autumn morning to capture the colors of autumn. I decided to check out the area around the dam of Maneciu in the Valenii de Munte area north of Pitesti on the way to Brasov. I left Bucharest at 6 am to try to get to the area around sunrise to capture the warm light of the early morning glow. Being a Sunday and early morning there was hardly any traffic on the road, so I made good progess. Unfortunately once I got to Maneciu, the weather was not conducive to capture the beautiful mix of rich autumn colors. The hills were covered in a misty fog which the sun did not manage to penetrate. So I decided to continue driving up the road towards Sacele and Brasov. In the end it proved worth it and I was rewarded with the opportunity to capture beautiful autumn colors in Romania.

With fog veiled colors  (click to enlarge)Finally when approaching the picturesque village of Cheia in the valley of the Telejean river the sun broke through the misty morning fog. The early morning sun rays lit up the beautiful mixture of greens, yellows, reds, maroons of the leaves while leaving a vail of fog on some parts.

Valley and mountain top  (click to enlarge)After Chiea and before I started climbing the mountain on the winding roads we got a beautiful opening of the valley of the Telejean river showing the majestic mountains in the background with a colorful diplay of mutlicolored trees.

Vast Valley   (click to enlarge)After climbing the mountain on its winding road with its multiple hairpin bends snaking along the mountain side, we managed to get a glimpse of the beautiful valley beyond on the road down on the other side of the mountain.

Sun rays playing with the leaves  (click to enlarge)The early morning sunrays were penetrating the forest next to the road horizontally with its warn soft early morning light and lighting up the beautiful yellows and greens of the remaining tree leaves.

Last Updated: 12-10-2014

Copyright © 2014 Hans Dewaele – All rights reserved


Volcanii Noroiosi

Piata Mica in Sibiu  (click to enlarge)

Early last September my parents visited us in Bucharest. Their second trip to Bucharest but more than 18 years after the last one. A good opportunity to return to the sites they had seen before like Bran, Peles, Vulcanii Noroiosi, Lipscani, the Village Museum in Bucharest, etc.

I took them on a drive to the Vulcanii Noroisi, or Berca Mud Volcanos, in the Buzau area, about 150 km north east of Bucharest. The drive up was via Ploiesti and the road that goes to Buzau which is parallel to the hills with vineyards. Rather scenic. On the way back we took the direct and shorter road from Buzau to Bucharest. Sadly, the road infrastrcuture has barely changed compared to 18 years ago when we went the first time to visit the mud volcanoes. There are actually two sites close to each other. One can visit both the “Mari” (large) and the “Mici” (small) site. This time we indeed visited both. The last time we were here 16 years ago we only visited the “Mari” site. They are easy to find now as there are signs leading you there and now you have to pay a very small entrance fee. 18 years ago one was alone when visiting these sites and they were not being exploited for tourits, so zero development around.

Hill country  (click to enlarge)The area around the mud volcano site is very attractive. It’s green, hilly and dotted with small villags. A quiet part of the country with beautiful views. This is a nice escape from the hustling and bustling of Bucharest to get in touch with the “originaL” Romania.

Moon landscape  (click to enlarge)When entering the Mari site you can see the large hills in front to you, looking like mini-volcanoes with cracked sides where the mud has been running down from. The view is very similar to the other mud volcano site I have visited before near Baku in Azerbaijan.

Gasses bubbling up  (click to enlarge)The most exciting sight is to observe the gas bubbling up and creating the large perfectly round domes in the liquid mud. When you visit the site you are now informed not to touch any of the liquids as they can be harmful to the skin.

Round pool  (click to enlarge)Many of the mud cones are flat topped with either a liquid pool of mud on top bubbling away with escaping gasses or with tips from which liquid just pours out and streams down the sides of the cones. It’s a sight you never get bored with and I will definitly be back with the kids. If you want to learn more there is more detailed explanations on Wikipedia about the Berca Mud Volcanoes.

Last Updated: 25-01-2014

Copyright © 2014 Hans Dewaele – All rights reserved