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.
Great pubs make Ghent even more attractive.
Fondest memory: 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.
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.
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.
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.
in front of the Fine arts museum you would find such beautiful sculpture?
Yes, I find it beautiful.
After some time in the park, where we were making photos of the statues, the weird sculptures, we got out of the park, somewhat satisfied. It was really hot though so we decided to enter the museum to chill out there. It was more even urgent to go there since we heard it was on the brink of closing.
"Go there to see the collection of Old (Belgian) Masters from XIV to XX centuries." would have been my recommendation. In fact, it is closed till end 2006 for refurbishment. Yet, it is possible to see the collection (or parts of them) in Ghent area. Check here to know about the program.
Fondest memory: Old museum but where you have a good time.
Somewhere to really "chill" in during this sunny afternoon... Some time to refresh yourself before the walk under beaming sun!
Yeah! you can walk during 6-8 hours under 28-30°C. Don't understimate yourself. But be sure to have necessary packing... and everyhting would be OK. Check my packing list tip.
.. this is the view on the abbey area.
Following the visit of the contemporary art exhibitions, we ended at the top of the building. If I recall it well, this used to be the room where they have meetings. It was large enough to hold many tables though it was desert.
We looked from the window and the view from there was just breathtaking. See the pic!
Fondest memory: It's really the first time I visit an abbey. Never been interested in doing that.
The school I went to when I was a kid was not that beautiful. In fact, the buildings and the court were the only areas where we could wander. The area where the Soeurs resided was not accessible. I saw their office (our classrooms and adminsitrative building) but not the place where they, Soeurs, lived. No real insight on what used to be the life of a Soeur.
We could just spot from far, looking at a little alley, some frangipani trees, some bamboos, some lush alleys with bougainvilliers. Far different from the concrete and the tiles. Really secret too. Mysterious!
Here, I could guess what was the life of the Soeurs (except that this is an abbey, for men that is). Check my travelogue to see more of the abbey.
Could they get out of the building easily? or had they to make do with this view? Surely beautiful but really inviting! I am sure more than one would have been tempted to jump from the window to enjoy the serenity of the garden.
I recommend it when you are tired of the crowd, the hectic and the noise.
Yet, it's in the urban area but it is a real place for chilling out. The atmosphere grants you with this feeling of serenity.
You would like to lay on the grass, see the ruins, the orchard (pick some fruits) or wander near the herb plants... to smell lavender, rosmarin, thym, sauge.. those kind of things.
Not to miss: the ruins of the abbey. In fact, the area is now property of Ghent city. In the past, it has to pay the huge toll of many events in the area: wars, French republican invasion...
Fondest memory: The abbey was a silent oasis in the middle of the crowd, the noise, the hectic.
Not only the park but also the innercourt, where we had some drinks, is a piece of haven of peace.. :)
An identified flying object...
And I was the first, among the bunch who shared the drinks at Ghentse Feesten, to have identified it.
Indeed, quite after our stay in Sint-Pieters abbey area, it was time to move over. We had an appointment with Rudi (diamonddog) and the kids (Eve and James) at Gentse Feesten, on the quays.
On our way to the piers, Ian-Grace (kylian74) and Werner rang. They were coming too...
Then, we had to go through the students area. Busy place, a bit offbeat track here. Where still stands the Vooruit, as performance centre.
We followed a certain itinerary, that led us to the piers. I saw from far the three monuments of Ghent, Sint-Baffs cathedral, the belfry and St-Nicolas church.
Then, Dannie and I got in the crowd, descended the stairs to the quay (was it Korenlei or Graslei, one of them anyway). We could make our way through it till we reached a spot that used to be, probably, a kind of pontoon. Wooden floorboards.. with lots of people around.
Brazilian music procession in the street nearby, followed by a live performance in the tent ensured the surround sound.
We fetched something to eat, a sandwich for each of us then sat on a bench. There were many long communal tables and benches there to welcome the festival-goers.
From there, we enjoyed the music, the chat... since in meantime, Ian-Grace and Werner arrived and that we could get to know each other.
See on this pic the tops of the architecturally diverse buildings on the quays. Only the tops since with the tents, the crowd, you wouldn't distinguish that much the style of those buildings... From that moment, I knew that a Ghent page from this series of pictures wouldn't be usual.:)
Fondest memory: I passed through a street in Student area where one mixed techno-music and where people where dancing in the dark, though it was 4 pm, complete daylight.
The flying objects in Ghent: a red heart balloon and another one ... click here to see the Lion balloon
I would have said the same thing as in previous tip but in fact, no.
For one reason, I may find it ridiculous. Yet, the guy who was canoeing in the Lys river, at this very crowded spot, was smiling. Seemingly enjoying a good time in his canoe.
Good for him!
Who am i to judge anyway?
Fondest memory: That day, I was with a notorious canoe-man on VT, I noticed he just looked at the "tools" but I guess he didn't envy the guy who was canoeing at that time and very precise area.
On the pic, the part of the quays buildings... Korenlei and Graslei used to be spots for youngs who like to gather there with music, sitting, have some drinks on terraces. Here, it was too crowded to savour the tranquillity of the city... that image of the everyday Ghent will come later. So far, this page is dedicated to the 21st July in this beautiful city.
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*
Still in Citadelpark, you can see the Casino. It's not my type of thing but hey, it's there... intended to the gamblers VTers. :)
Thinking of it, the Citadelpark is indeed a park where you can find lots of things: museums, sportpaleis, a conference center.
For practical infos on how to go there, look at previous tip.
Phone number: 09 222 30 51
I can't tell you more about gambling but I found this: a page on Belgium gambling. Check it out!
Fondest memory: To each its own...
.. where it is nice to sit on a terrasse, have some drinks..
That's Dannie. She found a way to, first, visit the abbey with its art centre, its orchard and the ruins. Then learn, in the School museum, about some Ghent history, then science... Afterwards, to sit, in same area, in the courtyard of the abbey to sip some beer. Only a unique place like Sint- Pieters abbey can offer you these features.
A shortcut to our first activity in Sint-Pietersplein area: School museum. The two first tips are dedicated to some unusual acitivities there.
Everything for the mind, the body and soul in this area since, while having some drinks, we could chat for hours.. about small things in life... rather big things.
What was it Dannie? Impossible love? No, no, it's not about her either me... We are OK. Thank God! It was about someone else... Two friends who couldn't marry to each other for reilgious reasons. We talked about religions, differences... It was not a beer talk since I was not on beer. Rather one of some moments where we just sit, listen to the silence, talk ... and not our usual online and offline jokes, for once...
Fondest memory: The serenity of the abbey garden.
Learning history of Ghent the way a kid would love to, click here to see what I mean.
In the School museum (science section), we could hear the sound of indigenous birds. That left me with some nice memories.
You would see, other experiences in this abbey would be more impressive though... in following tips.
This picture was taken from outside a glass box. It was not done by purpose but I like the blurr on it.
School museum: in a wing of Sint-Pieters abbey:
Sint-Pietersplein 14 - 9000 Gent
Tel: 09 244 73 73
Fondest memory: I love this pic.. Reminds me of some Oriental paintings... The colours are quite the same.. of same shades a bit of yeallow, then beige and brown.
I find it beautiful!
If the backgroud was, say, blue, it would have a real different result...
The songs of the birds were somewhat memorable... at least for me.
In the very Sint-Pieters abbey, there is this art centre we visited too.
When we were there, there was sthg like contemporary art in premices that use to be occupied by the monks in the past. We had fun looking at displayed pieces... Enlarge the pic to see "contemporary art"... These mussels kettles that are piled up made up for a piece of contemp art...
This was during the 2003 edition of "Gentse Nieuwe". Young, unknown artists from the area were given a place where to exhibit their works. The art centre is Kunsthal in Sint-Pieters abbey.
As far as I know, this should be an annual edition with, every year, new artists exhibiting. Sort of... You'd see in situ what's going on... Anyway, I can ensure you, if you visit the abbey in spring or summer, there would be something else that you would be longing for.
Fondest memory: "What is contemporary art?"...
Can some bright coloured mussel kettles that are piled up be considered as art?
What about a typing machine?
An armchair + TV post set?
Notwithstanding with those unanswered questions, I had fun.
For this being a permanent exhibition, I had a little bit of concern for some artpieces there though. Well, one of them, indeed...