Ghent - Day 2September 11, 2015 in Belgium ⋅ ☀️ 18 °C
I am up early today, ready to pack in as much of Ghent as I possibly can! I enjoy a beautiful breakfast at my hostel before heading off on a walk around the main canal – thanks trip advisor posts for that tip. It's another blue-sky day, so I lap up the beautiful sun.
As I entered back into the city I came across the Friday markets in Vrijdagmarkt
Square. There is everything you can think of here, loads of great produce and nicknacks to sell. A little down the road was a great antiques market next to St Jacobs Catherdal.
I love seeing these type of markets, just seeing what people have pulled out of their attics from years and years ago. And to think that you could quite literally find something here that was use in the war, or an antique from 100 years ago! History, right in the square.
From here I head to Sint-BaafsKathedraal to see the Adoration of the Mystic Lamb by Hubert and Jan van Eyck. I was most eager to see this painting after having read about it in the Monuments Men book and understand what it took to save this piece.
Upon entering the area where the Adoration was presented you received an audio guide and map for the master piece. The guide talked you through each section and explained what was happening and how important it was to history. As I came to realise through the book the artworks are like our photographs today. They are the snapshot of what life was like in that era, as close as we'll get to seeing it ourselves.
You weren’t allowed to take any pictures of the Adoration and I don’t like taking pictures inside a place of worship, so I have no pictures to show.
After I had finished here it was time for the morning walking tour. We met at the Upperlink Hostel, which I will defo be staying at next time. It ha a great view over the main harbour and is central to old town. It also feels like a hostel, my current one is more posh, just as lovely, but a tad too far out of town.
On today’s tour we visit:
- Graslei and Korenlei (the medieval harbor of Ghent)
- The three towers of Ghent: a. St. Nicholas Church b. Belfry c. St. Bavo’s Cathedral
- The City Hall
- Graffiti Street
- Vrijdagsmarkt square (Friday markets)
- St. Jacobs Church
- Dulle Griet (super canon)
- Patershol quarter (good eating area)
- The castle Gravensteen
Some of the nuggets of information I retained included:
- Chocolate should always be served fresh and consumed within 1-2 days of making it. That’s why the chocolate in the stores are never very good
- On the front of each building are decorations which tell the story of the family who live on the inside
- XL toilet roll paper: this used to be the toil of the Ghent Design Museum, now it’s a giant toilet roll
- There are urinals everywhere in the town, I found this to be a thing in Belgium. Louise tells me it’s because the men would otherwise pee in the street! And I thought this country was civilised haha.
- The flashing lights on Sint-Veerleplein. Every time a baby is born in the maternity ward these lights flash, just once in the square located near the Count’s Castle. Apparently there is a web cam you can watch and it is quite rare to be able to witness. How beautiful it is to celebrate new life.
- Ghent Marriot Hotel: We took a tour of the inside of the hotel to show that just because the outside façade is medieval the inside will blow you away
- Showed us where they had filmed sections of the Monuments Men, where the premier was and that Adrien Brody was here just 2 weeks ago filming 'Emperor’ on the bridge we had met at. That would’ve been amazing to see! It would’ve felt like you had literally seen Gent in the old days
- De Dulle Greit bar is located on Vrijdagsmarkt. It is famous for a few things.
1) legend says that in the 15th century it hid the daughter of Charles Quint the Fifth who was apparently insane. Her name was Meg and her tantrums at being locked up gave her the nickname of Mad Meg
2) The bar is named after the Dulle Griet canon across the road. Apparently Mad Meg used it in her fight against the Catholics, she blamed them for all of the hurt she had received.
3) The bar has 260 different beers
4) It’s famous for its ‘show for a one and half litre beer’. In order to purchase one of these beers the drinker must first hand over one of their shoes, which the bar man puts in a basket that is tied up to the ceiling. The shoe is returned when the glass is returned. Apparently the glasses as so popular that too many people were stealing them, hence the shoe for a beer rule.
Although the guide recommended that we climb the Belfry to look out over the city as he said that to have a sunny day like we have today happened five times a year I chose to not go and instead sit along the medieval harbour and take in the view, atmosphere and moment and sheer fact that here I was coming to the end of almost 4 months of solid travel, and that here I was in Ghent, Belgium! It’s all been worth it J
I took a slow walk back to my hostel, walking back through the cool little streets and shops I had passed too frequently in the last 24 – 48 hours. I went past a cool bar I had read about in the map and decided to stop in for a visit. They had a roof top bar open and as our guide said, having sun like this in Belgium only happened 5 times a year, so I better embrace it!
I wandered up as the early Friday work leavers were starting to pile in. I found myself a nice table and ordered and gin and tonic and a toasted sandwich. My toasty had some how been forgotten about! So when it eventually did arrive so did a complementary GnT did too! Oh happy days!
I walked back to my hostel, picked up my bag and walked back through the city to the train station. Good bye Gent. The brief time we spent together was fantastic, until next time!
Adoration of the Mystic Lamb
Cool walking tour info (not mine)
Free walking tour