Day trip to Gand
Ghent Travel Blog› entry 8 of 17 › view all entries
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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!