Beautiful remains of medieval times

Ghent Travel Blog

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Platform departure sign
We left home before 7.00 because we wanted to get the 7.54 international train at Amsterdam Central Station. Friday, early in the morning, in de midst of the Summer holiday time - not very busy on the road, so when we got at the station we had time to buy a big bag full of candy I forgot to do the day before.
The train has long compartments, which can be nice, but not when at Rotterdam two young women came in and settled in the seats next to us, with a musical taste which didn't fit ours, while they decided there was nothing better than that, and all people around them could "enjoy" the girl's cellphone MP3 function.
Maartje was about to get her own cellphone and let them give an example of really good music LOL, but I thought we better not. There were some older people sitting in front of us, and our musical taste is a bit on the heavy side, because we both like metal - Maartje in specific the power metal, f.
Ghent's towers as seen from Michielsbridge
e. bands like Disturbed - and I would not stir up the older people.
We were glad when we got at Antwerp where we need to change on the train either to Lille or Ostende. It turned out the one to Ostende because we arrived with a little delay, and missed the first one to Lille.
This was the first time I was at Antwerp Central Station, big station (ofcourse) - it has got 3 levels with tracks. We arrived on the lowest level and for the Ostende train we had to go to the top level. No big deal because the directions on the signs were clear, but I remembered the easy going in Central Europe where there were always uniformed people to help you around.

We did leave the agglomeration of Antwerp and travelled to the west.
Now, I always thought the part west of Antwerp was called West-Vlaanderen (Flanders West) but there I made my mistake. The area west of Antwerp is all Flanders, and that is split up in a western and eastern part. So, actually we were travelling west through Oost-Vlaanderen (Flanders East), where the town of Ghent is located, which is the capital of Flanders East.

We decided to go off the train at St. Pieters station, the biggest in Ghent, because I wanted to go to our hotel by taxi.
But when we got at the first station, Ghent Dampoort, we already could see the towers of churches and the Belfort.
At St. Pieters we got in our taxi, and the driver told us interesting things of the sites we were passing.
Okay, half of the time we could not understand what the man said, partly because of the Flemisch he spoke and partly because of the road pavement, in Belgium they still use cobblestones, but nevertheless I still learned something new.

We got at our hotel, het Sint Joris hof, or in French, le Cour St. Georges, at noon - where we were told we were too early, although I mailed them we would arrive by that time. We could not yet check-in, but we could leave our luggage at the reception desk; we were handed a city plan as well as some touristic information, so you could say we were sort of "thrown" into the old town, with the message not to return before 15.00 hours. Yes mother, no mother.

With the map in our hands we walked toward the river Leie (Lys),  where we hopped on one of the "bootjes van Gent", small open boats for a tour on the waters of the old town, the rivers Leie and Lieve, and by a connection canal to a small part of the river Schelde (Scheldt) as well.
Street near the St. Baafscathedral

The name Ghent is from the older Gond or Gand which means confluence of two streams, in this case the rives Leie and Schelde, although one may doubt about this meaning of the town's name. After the tour we explored the old town a bit more.
Halfway the afternoon we got to our hotel, and yes, now we were allowed to check in.
When we got to our room, we noticed some empty softdrink bottles, and a broken lampshade, so downstairs again to hand over the glassware and report the broken thing. The girl at the reception had the decency of being embarrased. It did not take long before she came to our room with a new lampshade which she quickly replaced.
Maartje turned on the tv set, and I dozed away a bit.

After an hour or so we were ready for town again, "een biertje happen" (having a beer) was on my program.
Former dominican convent

We found this great place at the Groentenmarkt, on the banks of the river Leie, a beerhouse on the waterside, but they played tricks with the name, and turned it into "Waterhuis aan de bierkant" (waterhouse on the beerside). Maartje did not want a beer, she decided she wanted a Martini on the Rocks, and lucky for her, they served that as well.
After awhile we got a bit hungry and ordered a light meal, which was prepared at the nextdoor restaurant "Chez Leontine", but to make it easy for the customer, it is all added to one bill.

I read about Ghent being illuminated at night time, so later that night we headed back into town, to walk around a bit until the lights were turned on. At dusk we sat down on the Graslei at "De Witte Leeuw" for a sweet and a drink (am I ever glad they serve "koffie verkeerd" in Belgium (coffee the wrong way)), the streetlights were already turned on, but not the little lights I expected.
Het groot vleeshuis (The Butcher's Hall) promotion center for East Flanders food and agriculture specialities
So I asked the waiter, and he told me they did not do that anymore, the restaurant used to be part of the illumination plan as well, with little lights as decoration on the entire terrace, but it was all gone... It's a pity.

yadilitta says:
I went to Ghent just by chance and really loved it. It wasn't part of my plans, but so glad I decided to stop here!
Posted on: Aug 05, 2009
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Platform departure sign
Platform departure sign
Ghents towers as seen from Michie…
Ghent's towers as seen from Michi…
Street near the St. Baafscathedral
Street near the St. Baafscathedral
Former dominican convent
Former dominican convent
Het groot vleeshuis (The Butchers…
Het groot vleeshuis (The Butcher'…
Townhouse at the Graslei, on the b…
Townhouse at the Graslei, on the …
River Leie near Grasbrug and Hooia…
River Leie near Grasbrug and Hooi…
Overgrown townhouse as seen from t…
Overgrown townhouse as seen from …
Entrance of St. Baafscathedral.
Entrance of St. Baafscathedral.
Detailed decoration on the entranc…
Detailed decoration on the entran…
St Michielskerk, St. Michaels chur…
St Michielskerk, St. Michaels chu…
Ghent Restaurants, Cafes & Food review
De Witte Leeuw
Located on the beautiful Graslei in the Old Towncenter of Ghent, where they get their nice terrace to sit down and enjoy the view on the river and acr… read entire review
Ghent Sights & Attractions review
Boattrip on the Ghent rivers
All along the banks of the river Leie in the old town center of Ghent you notice shipping companies, offering guided boattrips. The 50 minute tour is… read entire review
Ghent Restaurants, Cafes & Food review
Het Waterhuis aan de Bierkant
When you are in Flanders, it is almost a MUST to drink a beer. We walked around a bit in the old town, when we came by this nice terrace on the banks… read entire review
Ghent Hotels & Accommodations review
My first Best Western
I googled for hotels in the old town center of Ghent, and came across several all in the same price range (abt. 100 euro), so all of them over the bud… read entire review
photo by: lasersurge