GENT & CHERRY BEER
Belgium is famous for it's frites. If you have not ever eaten Belgium frites you should definitely go to Belgium just to try some of their frites.
Belgium also makes suberb beers including beers made from cherries, raspberries, etc. These friut beers are not for guzzling .
Visit the GRAVENSTEEN. For me...
Visit the GRAVENSTEEN. For me this is the building in het city with the most character. It's so impressive because it's located just in the middle of the city-centre. The GRAVENSTEEN is the Dutch name for the 'castle of the count'. The counts of Flanders had castles built in the principal cities of the county. Because they had to maintain law and order, they continuously had to move from one city to the other. Therefore, they disposed of a castle in most cities where they wanted to stay for a few months. The castle of Ghent is the only one which survived the centuries more or less intact.
As usual the best way for exploring the town is walking. Walking by feet, relaxing, observing the historical places and architecture. Gent keeps so much to see that just be prepared to walk long.
On the picture - the central part of the town. By the way, Gent is all crossed by the numerous channels, which gives the extra-charm to the city.
Gent, a Flemish city
See this yellow balloon with the lion, the Leeuw?
It is to say that the balloon is Flemish. :)
The Lion is the symbol of Flanders (Vlandereen) whilst the Cock is the Wallonia's (Wallonie). As for Brussels region, the Iris flower epitomizes it. (Side notice, that made me wonder at a time, when I joined VT in April, whether Dannie (irisbe) was from Brussels or not ... and she is not).
To know about the history, I prefer locals tell you about it. They would be more complete than me. Please check below website. There will be pics, texts, practical infos on monuments, visit hours... all info you may need.
Besides, Ghent is not a plain Flemish city, it is the historic centre of Flanders. It played a key role in Flanders history, in countering the French, the royal authority. The city location at the junction of the Lie and the Scheldt had granted it with some special status, regarding trade activities. Many commodities used to be traded, downloaded and uploaded there too (wool, cotton, cereals..).
Locals know more about their history than me, check their below official website.
For history, check website below. Choose the language you want (English, French, Dutch, German) plus Japanese, Spanish. Choose the multimedia presentation "Ghent in multimedia", then click on "Cultural" then the pyramids icon for "History".
http://www.gent.be/ When we spotted the balloon, we followed its move around the tops of some Gent landmarks. Then, Dannie took many pictures of it, following the move, its position compared to the towers... Very enthusiastic she was..
In a laugh, I asked her whether she would have taken a picture of it if it were the Cock balloon. She was first astonished, as if she didn't understand the question. Then, I laughed and she said "No, why should I?"... 'twas fun!
Dannie flamingande? No, she is one of easy-going and very welcoming persons I know. She would welcome any foreigner in Belgium, be him/her from Europe, Asia, Africa, America. But sure, she is really aware and proud of her Flemish identity.
great pubs make for less sleep
Great pubs make Ghent even more attractive. VTer Sabsi picked us up at the Dusseldorf airport and we headed down to Im Fuschen, a local brewpub for a beery breakfast before heading to Belgium. It was pouring the whole way there and Doreen and I slept most of the way, having gotten little of it on our flight over from Florida. Once in Ghent, our drivers headed to a pub to meet up with another VTer Caro and we walked over to our Bed & Breakfast to drop off our backpacks and change our clothes. We met up the others and rather than having a beer of all things I of all people suggested we do some sightseeing before it got dark. Well, it was winter and it was already after 3 PM so I was being nice since my wife had never seen the Ghent, the Gothic capital. It had cleared enough for a few photos and we enjoyed our scenic if brief tour of the sights. We decided to grab some food and Sabsi and Thomas went to Bruges to get their room after one beer. After dinner, Caro, Doreen and I set off on a pub crawl that only I could organize and only Caro could navigate! The Hop Duvel is way off the beaten path but Caro found it easily despite the dark and dreary weather. It was unfortunately not as good as my first pass through town five years ago so we headed to new gem The Trappisten Huis and found it charming and well stocked with excellent beers. We finished up The Trollekelder which was fairly close to our B & B where Caro had wisely parked. She dropped us off as any great guide at an all too late hour since she planned on picking us up early the next morning for a day excursion to Bruges to meet back up with our other VT mates. Some 15 Belgian beers since our arrival along with a comfy B & B and sound sleep however short lived would be upon us soon.