making it ours
Favorite thing: On my first trip to Ghent I was amazed at the Gothic Architecture and on this second pass I was happy to show it to D. Neither of us was disappointed despite the often dreary weather. Someday I'd like to go back when the weather's better!
Fondest memory: Planning trips is one of the great joys of anyone that truly loves to travel. There are some I guess that would rather have someone else do it for them but to me; they are missing something in the process of turning dreams into reality. Prior to my most recent excursion to Belgium and Ghent in particular I was in my normal mode of finding places to stay and one place kept popping up. It was a great find five years earlier on my inaugural trip there but I shied away from it as I had spent that trip with another girl before I was married. My wife knew this and I didn’t want to stir up any problems when there had to be hundreds of other nice accommodation choices. Doreen started her own search and found one that sounded like a real winner. Though I knew she’s love the place I had stayed I knew it was best to give in on this particular occasion. Unfortunately her place was booked and as much as we searched there just didn’t seem to be anything that fit all of our criteria. Time was running short so we booked it and hoped for the best. As the trip drew closer I could sense Doreen’s apprehension and even I was feeling a bit anxious over our choice. We arrived in town on a dreary and wet day but it was easy to find the place even on foot from the center. The owner welcomed us in warmly and the flat presented itself as amazingly as I remembered it. Doreen loved it immediately and soon all of our worries seemed unnecessary. We set about making it “ours” as much as humanly possible but with so much to see in such a short period of time we found we never got to spend nearly as much time there as we would have liked to. We left three days later knowing that if we were ever to visit the great city again that there would be little question as to where we would stay. It was our flat now.
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
- Food and Dining
- Beer Tasting
Using Gent as a base
Favorite thing: We rented a car and drove between destinations and ended up spending only one night in each place with the exception of Brugge where we spent two nights. There are benefits and drawbacks to every way of traveling, here are my thoughts:
Benefits-getting to experience an evening in each of the places we visited, Brugge in particular changed dramatically after the day trippers had left
Drawbacks-having to book multiple hotels, finding the hotels, repacking every night
Gent, at least on a map, looks like an ideal place to base yourself, in the center of many of the places we visited, Brugge, Brussels, Antwerp and Ieper, if we didn't rent a car, this would have been my choice of places to stay as most of the train journeys were under 30-45 minutes and relatively inexpensive.
Good Value Drink!
Favorite thing: The Alijn House Museum is an excellent place to visit AND it has an added extra - the cafeteria! The beer here is the cheapest that we encountered and it is served by friendly volunteers. You can visit the cafeteria without visiting the museum.
Tourist Information Centre
Favorite thing: This photo was taken from in front of the Cathedral across Sint Baafsplein and shows the Belfry Tower with the Cloth Hall in front.
The Tourist Information Centre is situated on the ground floor of the Cloth Hall and is open from around 9.30am until late afternoon.
TOURIST OFFICE FOR YOUNG PEOPLE
Favorite thing: http://www.use-it.be/gent/eng/
If you are a backpacker, exchange student, day-tripper or student from anywhere in the world, if you don't have a lot of cash, but definitely do have a lot of curiosity and happen to be in and around Ghent for any length of time, then Use-it is the tourist information service for you. Whether you prefer to take a front row seat or to really get your sleeves rolled up and your hands dirty, Use-it always presents the facts you need to know in an accessible, no-nonsense way and gives you the information you need to get the most out of Ghent.
"Where can I get a good, cheap bed for the night?", "What's there to see in Ghent except for Van Eyck and the Gravensteen?", "Where can I meet other young people?", "I'm starving... where can I go to get some cheap eats?", "What's interesting in and around Ghent?"... Use-it knows the answers to all of these questions (and a whole lot more besides). The people behind Use-it will tell you everything you need to know about the city - from quaint to alternative, from tasty to trendy, from interesting to surprising... and from cheap to even cheaper! The Use-it team will be scouring the city and its surroundings from top to bottom and presenting a veritable treasure trove of top tips and useful information in convenient, bite-size chunks especially tailored for a young audience.
You can find Use-it on the Sint-Pietersnieuwstraat 21 in Ghent (Belgium), straddling the student area and the historic city centre. From the Sint-Pietersstation take tram 1 or 12 and get off at the 'Plateaustraat'. After following the tram tracks for another 100 meters turn to your right, into the Bagattenstraat. At the end of the street you'll see arts centre Vooruit, our neighbours. There we are!
Fondest memory: I love Belgium and the best place is Ghent, where it all happens. Music, parties, meeting friends, living and eating … it’s as if Ghent people are more relaxed about it all than say people in Brussels. Ghent, in general, is a town where you better look out: the art is on the streets. In Ghent, all of those tiny medieval streets can really disorientate you. You never know exactly where they are taking you or where you will end up. The heartbeat of the city goes through it''s active nightlife which seems to last for ever. Here, most bars close only at sunrise. I also really like the open mentality people have in Ghent - you get introduced to people''s friends, invited out and are always welcome to tag along.
The Gentse Feesten is a festival with lots of music and theatre in the city of Ghent (Belgium). It is the largest of its kind in Europe. It starts on the Saturday before July 21 (the Belgian National Holiday) and it lasts ten days. About 2 million people visit Ghent during these ten days, which is four times as much as the carnival festival of Rio de Janeiro.
- Budget Travel
On a sticky hot day..
Favorite thing: Appointment was taken. After the cowspotting afternoon in Brussels to visit Ghent and attend the Gentse Feesten.
So, on July 21, Dannie and I visited Ghent. In fact, it was rather I who visited Ghent and she who guided me. Yep! She again.
We arranged to meet ourselves at 10.00 or 10.30 am at Gent Sint-Pieter train station. Then the tour started there. Of course she had everything prepared already. She knew the itinerary, the places... But we managed to get lost in a city park that day! Still cracks me up!
We visited many areas: some are classical one, other more off beat track... Well, many things to enjoy. A lot to do in one day: walking, two small museums and other contemporary art exhibitions, chilling out, picking fruits in an abbey then going to the festival. Yep, the festival where we had a mini-meeting with Ian-Grace and hubby Werner. This was there that I met Rudi (diamonddog) for the first time too. Boy! This page can be a bit unusual of Ghent but it is Ghent.
Now, follow me... to have an insight of what we've done there on sticky hot July 21 afternoon.
Fondest memory: Whatever the purpose of your visit here, whether for partying, for paying a visit to a friend or for a guided tour, one thing is sure: you will always have fun here!
Outside the 10 festive days of Gentse Feesten, the city will be always be the same: serene, beautiful.. though its past would have been a little more hectic than nowadays....
Especially, here have a look at off beat path tips. We had during that day some unusual experiences, encounterings.
- Road Trip
St Pieters Abbey
Favorite thing: One of the biggest "Benedictine" abbeys in Flanders, erected by bisshop Amandus in the 7th century.
Erected on the highest top in Gent, Blandijnberg - welknown by the many students living here.
The abbey was the former grave yard of the earls of Flanders and actually a museum and exposition hall
- Museum Visits
Mosquito Coast: a true traveler's place!
Favorite thing: Mosquito Coast is what we call in Belgium a 'reizigerscafé': indeed, a cafe for travelers!
Mix a great interior, yummy cocktails and food and a library full of travel guides and maps and you get a small idea of what Mosquito Coast is.
Every now and then, travelers are invited to give an information evening about their trips.
New address (as from mid-February 2005:: Hoogpoort 28, 9000 Gent
GENT & CHERRY BEER
Favorite thing: 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 .
- Food and Dining
- Beer Tasting
- Historical Travel
Make Ghent your home base in Belgium
Favorite thing: Instead of making Ghent a day trip, get a hotel and stay a few nights. This is a great town. At night the city is lovely, the restaurants are great, and the locals are extreme friendly. More quaint than Brussels, and much less touristy than Brugge.
Check out my hotel tip
Fondest memory: Just walking around at night and finding a cozy restaurant or bar.
Check out my nightlife tip
- Family Travel
- Budget Travel
- Business Travel
Real Ghent round July 21
Favorite thing: Difficult to show you the details of "architecture wonders" of Ghent under those conditions.
They installed colourful stands, tents that "spoilt" the views, preventing you from taking nice pictures of "nude architectural beauties"... for instance for your VT page. :-P
Crowded the city was, preventing you from soaking up the aristocratic atmosphere in Ghent.
Fondest memory: Sorry for purists who have preferred a picture of Ghent, without the "trimmings", just with the nude buildings, without the tents, without the crowd.
I was there during a festival, had fun discovering the city, meeting VT friends. As I am really selfish :), I let you make do with those pictures to guess how Gent is without the crowd, the tents... *Joke*
In fact, this is the real Ghent on a July 21st (Belgian Independence Day) and during Gentse Feesten. These are the real people celebrating this very important day and partying for 10 days, each year, at same period... Yep, the city lives, changes, beats... not only for the tourists. For locals too!
As for WHAT do they celebrate during those 10 days, check hereafter website: http://www.gentsefeesten.be/english/index.htm
Favorite thing: When arrriving in Gent i honesty had no idea there would be a beer festival happening just by my hotel.
Loads of different beers to sample with live music and a geat friendly relaxed atmosphere. Boy were some of them strong :-)
It was the weekend before the big Gent Festival and I got the impression that t his beer fest was also a regular event. Try and make it here next year :-)
Favorite thing: One uses to say that Belgium is one of greenest countries of Europe. Yet, for one who comes from a much lusher-flora country, it still can be a bit grey.
Hopefully, Belgian cities, Ghent included, have some parks and green spots left in the city but they are sparse and not too big. It was to in one of them, Citadelpark, that Dannie led me.
It is located at the city ring (Charles de Kerchovelaan), between the student's area and the St-Pietersabbey.
Somewhere to soak up the sun... though I am not specialist in park, I just felt this park has something special with its sculptures of, sometimes, weird nature; small cosy spots with heroic and melancholic sculptures, ponds; a bunker; fake caves.
It is a place for lunch time, I think. We could just lay on the grass (we didn't though!) to sunbath, doing nothing, just chatting.
Plus, it seems to have a concentration of important museums, art centers... The MSK (Fine arts museum), the SMAK (Contenporary art museum) are really close to it.. as well as the Sportpaleis Kuipke. The Casino is there, though I am not a big fan.
The original closing wall that gave the park its name is still erect.
In daylight, the park is OK. In night too,.. only if you look for some gay sex (that, sometimes, you have to pay for).
To ge there:
Buses 9, 70 til 74, 76 til 78, 5, 50, 51
Trams 1, 10 til 13
The Citadelpark is located near the St-Pietersstation.
Fondest memory: Newness since I have only seen the center of Ghent in the past, with the architecture, the buildings along the quays.. Hmmm.. so new that we managed to lose ourselves in the park. I think one can tolerate my case but I was with my guide Dannie. How could we be lost then?
Now, this stadpark with rose gardens, grass where to rest...
Near the ponds were some young bunches, probably seeking for freshness. This is not a pond to bath in though... and there are ducks there.
- Casino and Gambling
- Work Abroad
A sculpture city
Favorite thing: The guided tour started from the train station. Just accross the station, there was a little place whose I don't remember the name.
In France, this would have been the Place de la gare with the Café de la gare. :) whatever... we are in Ghent!
Well, two things stroke me: the station area was neat, the garden was lush, well-kept with nice flower plots... in the contrary of some Walloon train station where you would never be pleased to wait fro your driver. Here, it seems nice with the bench and... this!
A tall sculpture, with a fountain... One of the many sculptures and statues I found in this great city. At least, I could distinguish it from the others.. for it being the first I saw. :)
Fondest memory: Thinking, I can now tale you Belgium through my eyes. For sure, the cities are not simply that but according what I saw (could see) there, and recurrent elements as part of their landscapes, I say:
Antwerp is a Church and Madonna city
Ghent is a Sculpture and statue and flower city (Check the TL)
Brussels is a Murale and comic strip city
Brugges, - oh! a page I would not probably build-, a Canal city.. yet, Ghent has many canals too.
Durbuy, a Stone city
Leuven, the University city but not only :)
You don't agree with me? Fine! It's my point of view. Yet, I appreciate if you tell me why you don't agree. *haha*
- Arts and Culture
Gent, a Flemish city
Favorite thing: 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".
Fondest memory: 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.
- Historical Travel
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