Thursday, September 17, 2015

Ghent, Belgium

Actual date of this event: 20-22 March

Continuing on about our journey back to Belgium, we took a train from Brussels to Ghent around 3pm and were looking forward to exploring the city we missed during our first visit to Belgium. We arrived around 3:30pm, and then took the tram into the Historic Centre. Ghent wasn't quite as fairytale-like as Bruges. It was, however, less touristy and possibly the most gorgeous city at night. It also felt quite a bit like Amsterdam with some very picturesque buildings and canals.

After checking into our hotel, located in St-Baafsplein, we headed out to wander a little bit before dinner - seeing St Bavos Cathedral, Belfry Tower, Town Hall, and then made our way to het Waterhuis aan de Bierkart for a drink.

We took a walk along the canal to have dinner at Eerkaffee Multituli. Then, we checked out two bars on my list - Dulle Griet and Trollekelder - both located near Vrijdagmarkt, before called it a night around 11:30pm. Trollekelder was the kind of bar that if you order a meter of beer, they take your shoe from you, place it in a basket, then raise it high above the ground. Why? They want to make sure they get their meter glass back at the end of the night!

{The basket of shoes is hanging in the top left corner by Luke's head. The basket was overflowing by the time we left. How gross is it to go to the bathroom with a shoeless foot?!?!}
On Saturday, we had breakfast then headed out around 11:30am to be true tourists - St Bavos Cathedral again, Castle of Gerald the Devil, thru Vlasmarkt, and St James' Church.

{Above" Daytime picture of the bars we visited the night before.}
We came upon Vrijdagmarkt, which might be the prettiest square I've seen while traveling.

We crossed over the canal and headed toward the Old Fish Market and the Castle of the Counts. Don't Ghent's attraction names sound so medieval?

We decided to go into the castle since we really wouldn't be doing much else in Ghent. The castle itself wasn't all that, but there were some really pretty views from the top. It seemed as if every staircase we took gave us great views of the city.

After the castle, we took a long walk along the canal to the Rabot (I'm not quite sure what it is, but it stood at the end of the canal and looked like some sort of castle fort). We then looped our way back through a non-tourist area back to the castle.

It started pouring rain on us, so much that we couldn't continue walking, so we popped into a pub for a beer and some soup to warm up. After the rain let up, we crossed the canal to St Michael's Church. The view of all of the buildings back across the canal was gorgeous!!

Unfortunately, it started raining again, so we stopped into a pub in St-Baafsplein before grabbing our rain jackets from the hotel. Then we headed to Vrijdagmarkt for a pre-dinner drink at 't Vrij Gevoel Dags (because all of these drinks so far are just normal day drinks...).

I made us a reservation at Amadeus II for all you can eat ribs for dinner. Brilliant idea because the place was fully booked, so we saw many people get turned away. We left there so stuffed, and it's one of the few times I have seen Luke leave uneaten food on his plate. He actually got slightly upset with the rib man who kept putting more on Luke's plate. Hah! There are several locations of Amadeus, and we ate at the one by Stadthalle (City Pavilion).

We needed a walk very badly, so we wandered along the main canal taking in the sight of the beautifully lit up buildings.

We realized that we had been in Belgium for about 36 hours and had only eaten one waffle, so our tummies quickly made room. Ghent actually doesn't have many waffle joints, but there was one by Pensmarkt. I'm a plain waffle girl - no whipped cream, no strawberries, no chocolate, no bananas, nothing but the hidden sugar crystals in its batter - but somehow this waffle lady talked me into getting a massive amount of strawberries with a huge mound of cream on top. Before we knew it, we were hanging over 14EU (~$15.50) for our two waffles! She knew what she was doing from the start grrrrr. After our waffles, we headed back to Het Waterhuis aan de Bierkart for a few last drinks of the evening before heading to sleep.

The next morning, we had a few hours before we needed to catch our train back to Brussels, and then back to London, so we decided to make the 1.5 mile walk to the train station and see some of the less visited areas of Ghent along the way. We walked along the canal, visited the Sunday flower market, walked through the Sint Pietersplein where a spring festival took place the day before, and lastly around the city park.

We hopped on our train back to Brussels, then made our way back to London via EuroStar at 4pm. When I got back from this trip, I recommended Ghent to a friend who was visiting Belgium a few weeks after us, and I was pleased to hear they enjoyed it as well. I say it should definitely go on the list for anyone visiting Belgium! Even though there isn't a whole lot to Ghent, it was a gorgeous city to spend the weekend, even if it did rain on us. It sure got us back into our traveling groove for 2015!


Meat-Free Day is promoted every Thursday in Ghent with many restaurants participating in the scheme. Besides Thursdays, Ghent has more vegetarian restaurants than any other city in the world!

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