Day trip to Gand

Ghent Travel Blog

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Sint Baafskathedraal

And so, another day and another town to visit. I remember feeling a bit surprised and pleased at myself, at how "with the flow" I've become when it comes to travelling. It's almost become 2nd nature, to an extent where these days, the thrill and glamour has gone, and it's almost like "I've gotta do it, let me do it". Ghent (Gand in French) is another town that people tell you to visit. Then again, they're also quick to tell you that it's the poorer cousin of Bruges, and merits not more than a 2 hour stay. For me, I knew I was going to spend 3 days in Bruges anyway, so I was willing to allow a full day in Gand (and let's be honest ,I didn't exactly have an itenerary full week in Belgium, did I?!!).

The train ride takes a little under an hour from Bruxelles, and the station is not the best, but does its job.

View of the town from the Belfry tower (Belfort en Lakenhalle)
It looks like it's got a good selection of rsnts, although I can safely say the waffles here are terrible. Anyway after finding my way to the bus stop, I took the bus (or was it tram?) to the city centre. Gand is an interesting town - it's not like Bruxelles or Anvers where the Grote Markt has everything. But here, the goodies are scattered over town, which means more walking and enjoying.

The other nice thing about this town is that I could see more than one high "tower". Three infact, each one behind the other from St.Michael's Bridge. This area would be the first place I'd visit for the day... the Three Towers of Ghent are St.Bavo's Cathedral, The Belfry and St. Nicholas' Church. I spent about a minute in St.

Bavo's Cathedral, and didn't spend too much time in St. Nicholas' Church as well, but the highlight was undoubtedly the Belfry Tower. This tall tower is where you not only get fantastic views of the city, including a fantastic one of the church across, but you also see how Clockbells were made - a hi-fi video presentation along with actual bells of all sizes on the 2nd floor, for you to examine. It was entertaining and informational.

From here, the next stop was St.Michael's Bridge which is just another bridge but for the fact that you get to see all 3 Towers, as well as good views of the canals/river. I went for a walk around town, and I really liked the City centre as well. Sure, it's got the same kind of buildings I'd gotten used to, but it was nice seeing a much bigger, spacious and quieter Grote Markt for a change.

View of the Het Gravensteen from the Belfry Tower
This is the one that one sees in all travel books.

And from here,  a short walk away was none other than one of the landmarks of the town - the Castle - or Het Gravensteen which translates to the Castle of the Counts. This Castle exceeded all of my expectations no doubt. It's very grim, that's the first thing you notice about this place. It looks small, looks like a little puppy compared to an Edinburgh Castle, but it's got this whole "don't mess with me" theme going on. The story goes that one of the Counts of Flanders had visited the Holy Land back in the 12th Century and had seen what are called crusader castles. These castles were made to look grim and instill fear in people with the towering turrets and battlements and walls and all,  no one'd dare want to invade.

Clock
Walking in, it's now very touristy with lots of school groups I noticed, but I was quite disappointed at how poorly the electronic guides/books have been distributed. Coud've done a better job. But walking around was a delight - especially when you go atop the ramparts of the high central building and you get good views of the town. The real gem however was the Torture Chamber. This was a delight. It shows you the various things Counts would use to punish their citizens - the the spiked iron collars, and all. Very informative and yet scary (if you lived in that time). For the first time in this week, (well 2nd after Dinant), I started feeling "ok, now the trip seems worth it!". There are some parts of the Castle still retained - parts of the old kitchen, torture chambers, etc.
A display of bells being made in the tower
Overall I like how they've still kept this Castle as very broody and dark and ugly.

I left the Castle a little after 2pm and headed to what I consider a BIG waste of time - the Design Museum. I've never seen anything more boring than this - it looked like a grand department store that just opened, with some extremely tacky pieces and lack of coordination, not to mention bad directions which leave a visitor dazed and confused. I was overall, very disappointed in this.

By 3pm, my legs were sore. I needed both something to eat and somewhere to sit. What better to eat than someone selling Italian gelatto on a street car (which btw, was shit), and then take a cruise on the River Leie, which again was shit. The problem with the cruise is other than the bay where you board the boat, the rest of the buildings which line the river are just your average modern buildings.

I wasn't that impressed with it, although I did enjoy it given the weather, the fact that I needed to sit down and that it was toursity enough and you get an overview of all the main buildings.

I wrapped my day up with this cruise around 430pm or so, walking  back to the centre to take the tram back to the Railway station. I couldn't believe I was more than halfway through my stay in Belgium. Time does travel fast when one travels!

 

 

 

YantiSoeparno says:
I feel that you were not too enthusiastic here :-(
But how come the time seemed fly fast ;-)
Posted on: May 15, 2009
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Sint Baafskathedraal
Sint Baafskathedraal
View of the town from the Belfry t…
View of the town from the Belfry …
View of the Het Gravensteen from t…
View of the Het Gravensteen from …
Clock
Clock
A display of bells being made in t…
A display of bells being made in …
Overlooking the Leie River
Overlooking the Leie River
The Grote Markt of Ghent
The Grote Markt of Ghent
Outside the Het Gravensteen
Outside the Het Gravensteen
Atop Het Gravensteen
Atop Het Gravensteen
Ahem...!
Ahem...!
Design museum
Design museum
Inside the Design Museum
Inside the Design Museum
The place I boarded the cruise
The place I boarded the cruise
Ghent
photo by: lasersurge