What’s that? Annie went to Ghent and preferred it over Bruges?
Yes, I finally went. I’ve been saying I wanted to go to Ghent for the longest time, yet after two stays in Louvain-la-Neuve, it still escaped me. Most of the time it’s due to laziness that I skip out on trips. I mean, it’s a winter weekend and all you want to do is snuggle in the warmth of your bed in the morning instead of venturing out in the cold! I often give in to the temptation of sleeping in while forgetting that the joys of travelling and wandering are just a tug of an eye away.
And indeed, when you overcome the fatigue and drag your stubborn body out of bed, it only takes about 5 minutes to shake your head awake. Then you get dressed, fling your bag onto your back, leave the door behind for a day, and dive into a whole new world. Then when you see the beauty of the world in front of your eyes, you wonder why you were ever too tired to explore.
Ghent is, as best as I can put it, too beautiful to miss. Most people would want to see Bruges if they even stop by Belgium during their Eurotrips, but boy, Ghent tops Bruges in my book. I wasn’t a fan of Bruges when I visited last April, and truthfully, I don’t think I give Bruges enough credit. Ghent, however, deserves all of my recommendation for those planning to visit Belgium. It is as underrated a city as Belgium is as a country for travel.
I had the same problem with Ghent in terms of its name as I did in Bruges, only this time, it’s even more complicated. (Of course, Ghent is also in Flanders, the Flemish region of Belgium.) You see, Bruges is the same in French and English, and is only spelt “Brugge” and pronounced differently in Flemish. Ghent, being the English spelling, is “Gent” in Flemish and “Gand” in French. I’m actually still unsure about its pronunciation; I believe in English, it’s “gent” with the “g” sounding like “girl”. In French it’s more like “gone” without the ending “n” sound. (I’m no linguistic expert and I probably explained that very poorly…)
Onto the trip: before I visited I did some research to find out what I should see and do, and one of the things that I was determined to do was stay until the sun has gone down, as night in Ghent was supposedly stunning. Arriving in Ghent at around noon, that meant I had about 7 hours to spend in the city, assuming that it gets completely dark by around 18:30 and I take the 19:24 train. Let’s see how that worked out. (Full picture album here.)
The first thing I noticed when I got off the tram at Korenmarkt (Ghent town centre) were these strange dancing statues on top of a building. I realized afterwards that Ghent is filled with these figures on rooftops all around the city, and that became one of the things I really liked about Ghent.