Dranouter aan Zee

I had no plans for the last weekend, so when I saw that one of my colleagues was looking for company to go to the coast, I decided to join her. It has been a long time since I saw the see (if it is from an airplane, that does not count), so I thought it’s just about the right time to go, and a nice, calm, restful weekend would be really good after all the active, sports-filled Saturdays and Sundays I had recently. We left Leuven on Friday evening, and took the train to Ieper via Brussels (accompanied by all the students heading home for the weekend – this is the reason why Leuven is so empty during weekends and holidays). After a loud welcome from all the dogs around the house in Elvire’s hometown (note: thanks for the hospitality, which made things much easier!), I had my longest sleep in several weeks time. There was no rush at all… (I like being active, but I can enjoy the “just not doing anything” state too :D)

On Saturday, we were just lying in the garden enjoying the warm sunshine (and the great pasta Elvire made for lunch) before we left to the coast on the afternoon. I was not even aware of the fact that the main reason for visiting the coast was the Dranouter aan Zee festival, which took place on these days in De Panne. (Small side-note again: Flanders is generally flat, and we have plains in Hungary, but this part of Belgium is the prime example of a flat region.)

As my experiences from the past are not the best from these kind of concerts, I was a bit afraid inside how I would feel myself there, but then everything turned out to be pretty much just perfect (and sometimes even freakin’ cool :D) – if you do not count that we spent a lot of time standing in the wrong queue when we wanted to buy the tickets, but we always had something to talk about, so that was not a real issue at all. Before we jumped into the concerts we had a short walk on the beach, and I am sure that I would like to go back somewhen because there is even a nature reserve nearby at the French border, where you can walk in the dune grasslands which are so typical for this area.

As real Belgians did, we ate fries and I drank some beer too (nothing special, just a Maes – but still it is a new kind in my “collection”) between the performances. And one of the nicest things was that you could see the see itself from within the concert tent! It was a bit surreal, looking back towards the entrance, see the silhouettes of all the people behind you in the backlight, and then the horizon marked by the see in the distance behind them… I really liked it.

So we started with the second half of Balthazar, a Belgian band (luckily singing in English), playing mainly indie pop-rock. They were quite good, there is definitely a potential in them. Here is a video clip from their debuting album (far not the best piece of music they have, but that’s all I can show here).

The next one was Jasper Erkens, a damn young Belgian boy with his guitar and great voice. In some songs he had another guy on his side playing on a cello – those were the best ones, it’s a shame I can not find anything like that on YouTube… (But in this video you can see the city of Leuven for some seconds ;D)

Then came (one of) the iconic band(s) of Belgium: Daan. His (their) “show” was much more professional, with songs ranging from beat and electronic to the more recent pop-rock styled ones. It was truly energizing…

Then after a short break (of fries and coke) we listened to the first songs of Arid, then jumped over the Clubtent to catch the concert of Katzenjammer. They are 4 girls from Oslo (Norway), and their music is – how to say – different :D But in a really lovely way. Their instruments are cool (and I am in love with musical instruments – the Belgians whit whom I went to Sweden can tell, that the Musikmuseet was my favorite in Stockholm), they interact with the audience, and they really get you in the mood (and they are crazy :D)! Even I was jumping, waving and clapping my hands, singing along when I could during the show, and people who know me can tell, that this is not happening on every concert… But they were cool!!! This was the best part of the night.

To close the day, we went back to the Concerttent for the concert of Arno. It was a bit of a disappointment, because as an evening-closing concert you would expect the best band to be on stage, but this was not the case on this Saturday…

At the end, we stayed a bit in the Clubtent where two DJs made the beat for those who still had enough energy to move, but I think I was not one of them… So we left after a quarter, drove back and slept till midday on Sunday. We came back to Leuven on the afternoon after a nice walk with the dogs (I think they really liked me by the end of the weekend). This was really the first weekend since the start of my PhD, when I had no scheduled plans, no internet connection and e-mails, when I just went with someone and let things to happen independent of my will (but of course not against it). And I enjoyed it! I felt completely charged up (both physically and mentally) when I arrived home. (Though my physical energy level dropped significantly after the floorball practice on Sunday evening.) I should have these calm weekends more often (also because my sport activities are usually quite lonely…).

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