Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Ghent Experience

Ghent is a capital city of East Flanders province in Belgium. There are three official languages in Belgium: Dutch, French and German. People who live in the Flemish region of Belgium, where Ghent is, speak Dutch, the first official language. Belgium is very ideal place to go to if you live in Holland, because it is nearby and they speak the same language. You can feel as if you are at home.

I have been twice in Antwerpen for a day-out. I have not yet been to any other places in Belgium other than Antwerpen. So I was happy when we visited Ghent two weeks ago. It was my first vacation in Belgium and  both our first time in Ghent.

If you are looking for a middle ages city to visit, Ghent is the place to be. It has musea, port, university, monasteries, arts-treasures and castles. This is a place where you can enjoy history and trendy day-out and nightlife.

10 Things to Love about Ghent

1. Architecture

Ghent is a picturesque city. The city medieval architecture, especially the old houses still remain intact and well-preserved. One of the contrasts I noticed between the Dutch and Belgian is, the Dutch give priority to neatness and Belgian to authenticness.

at Vrijdagsmarkt, Ghent
The Graslei is one of the most visited places in Ghent, the most favorite of everybody. I really admire this place. We sat for almost two hours watching the scenic view of the houses on the other side of the river Lys.

2. Food

Eat and drink to your heart's content. Don't mind the price of food and drinks, it might be a bit pricey, but the quality you get is worth the price you pay. 

Don't skip this veggie tart for lucnh at Brooderie Lunchroom. Still have a craving for it!
We really love the Stoverij, a classic Flemish meat stew made with brown Trappist beer. (Trappist is a strong abbey beer) The Chateaubriand, a grilled beef steak also with Trappist is sumptuous. Most of the dishes are served with Flemish fries.

Of course, I did not skip the typical Ghent's recipe for dinner on our last day. Its name - the Ghent's Waterzooi. It sounds really funny if you literally translate it, Water + zooi (means mess). If you see the picture below, this one-dish-meal is indeed a mess, but it is really appetizing. I think Filipino would love this meal! (Wish there was a portion of rice on the menu!)

...a big bowl of Waterzooi, good for two meal at 't Voske Restaurant!

The Brooderie lunch cafe, the Godot and 't Voske restaurant are among the places you must try to dine in. They are all recommended by the travel reviews and now our suggestion, too! 

The Duvel croquette on a Saturday market at Vrijdagsmarkt square is also delicious.

These midget Duvel croquettes cost 2.50 euro. Originality and taste? It's worth it.

3. Beer

Don't miss a pint if you are in Belgium.  There are many cozy cafes and restaurants to choose from. From old taverns unique ambiance to modern stylish bars. Just choose what you prefer! Belgium is a beer country, so their beer sorts are numerous. (Beers in Belgium are cheaper than in Holland). I love most of all the dubbel, blond and lambic.

4. Funny Establishment Names

Het Waterhuis aan de Bierkant - it is hard to translate it in English. But if you understand Dutch, it is funny. 

Visboer de Vis - the name of the establishment selling fish. Visboer (Fish vendor), surname of the store owner -  de Vis (Vis means fish).

Goesting - a restaurant in Ghent. This word is a typical Belgian word. It means desire. But the meaning is also associated with lust for sex.

5. Brocant

I have learned a new word. Brocant is a french word which means second-hand shop. I saw almost everywhere second-hand shops in Ghent. I really wanted to look inside, but we did not have so much time to do it.

6. Market Fair

I really love to live in Belgium, because there are market fares everywhere. The Vrijdagsmarkt square are full of market stands every Saturday, some of the squares have flea market.

Sunday, the Vrijdagsmarkt is still occupied, because of the Vogelmarkt (Bird Market). It was my first time to see this special market day. You can buy ducks, chicken, rabbits, geese, fishes and other animals you can keep in your backyard. 

7. Public Transportation  

The public transport in Belgium is a lot, lot cheaper than in Holland. They ride on time, less train delays and the conductors are very friendly. The announcements are more polite than in Holland.

The HermeLijn, low-floor tram in Ghent is cute and it transport passengers perfectly. I like it so much.

8. The Belgian

The Belgian are relaxer than Dutch. Both totally with different characters. I like the accent of the Belgian. It was hard for me to follow the conversation, because of their accent. I asked Honneponjie many times "Is she/he speaking French?", Honnepontjie replied, "Schat, they speak purely Dutch."

So far in our weekend vacation, we did not meet asocial people, only kind people. Chapeau!

9. Castle

The Gravensteen Castle is one of the attractions in Ghent. It is a middle ages castle built on 11th century. The castle served as the seat of the Counts of Flanders, later became a courthouse,  then became a prison. The castle was renovated and some parts of the castle are restored to its original condition. Inside the castle is a museum with various torture devices which were used in Ghent

10. Museum, River Lys and the Cathedral

We would like to see some of the musea in Ghent, but our stay was too short. On our list were: the Carmelite Abbey, The House of Alijn and the The Lamb of God at St. Bavo Cathedral. The Carmelite Abbey is already closed when we arrived, after our visit to the Gravensteen castle, the House of Alijn is also already closed.

The river Lys cruise is one of the popular activities in Ghent. Our hotel is located along this river and we could see the river and the panoramic view of houses on the other side. Our hotel was formerly an old factory. The building is not really sound-proof, so in the morning we were woken by the sound of the cruise boat and the tourist guide with its microphone.

A very nice view from our window.
I think the first two things I will always remember on our Ghent trip are: our afternoon at the Graslei and the vegetarian tart we have eaten by the Brooderie. We truly enjoyed the weekend and I have only few words to describe Ghent. "An Exceptionally Beautiful City".

Five stars for you, Ghent!


Farida said...

Thank you for touring us around Ghent! I would love to explore and experience the place too but viewing your photos will suffice :)

Kulengkleng said...

No thanks, Sis! I just wish you can travel here or come to live here. Next time I'll make a blog entry why. Thanks for dropping by. :-)