After a day close by in Den Haag, we took a longer journey to Ghent in Belgium. One of the most immediately identifiable differences between Canada and Europe is the scale of this kind of trip. Considering the time it took for us to travel to another country, here, in Canada, the same drive wouldn’t have taken us out of our province of Ontario!
Of course, one of the very first things we did was sit down for a lovely coffee to drink in the city’s atmosphere. Everywhere we looked there was history. In fact, my brother reminded me of a moment when Canadian history and this beautiful city intersected; The Treaty of Ghent ended the War of 1812.
I took the opportunity to document my personal history and the fact that my new adventure boots had now been to three countries!
One of things we most loved about Ghent was the juxtaposition of centuries old buildings and cathedrals alongside people going to work in streetcars. This city was full of life and activity as well has history and beauty. I wish I could show you the amazing scale of St. Bavo’s Cathedral but no pictures were allowed within. Perhaps the simple statement from their website, “For over a thousand years this has been a place of prayer…” tells the tale.
As we strolled the cobblestone roads, there was so much to experience, including an impromptu piano performance by a talented young man who attracted quite an audience in moments.
I so appreciate that my father-in-law Chris caught these lovely moments of Justin and I throughout the trip. It’s a gift to have these beautiful reminders of our travels.
Including this amazing castle. Gravensteen was built in 1118! Living in a country that was founded in 1867, these dates never cease to amaze me.
The beauty of the castle was captivating and also a great contrast to its history. The information about this site was rich with torture, death and cruelty. Though castles and knights cast a very romantic light in our imaginations, it is clear they are of a grim and violent time.
We climbed to the top of Gravensteen and though I get wobbly with heights, it was a delight to have a birds-eye view of the city. In fact, it wouldn’t be long before we’d be sitting down in that square.
A very busy patio and a brusque waiter made Ghent feel a bit like home. We asked for a good Belgian beer and finished our day with a Keizer Karel and making plans for more adventures tomorrow.
Confident Traveller Tip: Brave asking for a local favourite. I have to admit, the fast pace of the patio and the impatience of the waiter made it difficult to slow things down and ask for a recommendation. It was awkward for a moment and the waiter left us to “figure it out,” saying he was too busy to wait. But when he came back, he said that we could trust him to pick something good for us and he did. It took a moment of courage and a little bit of patience but it was so worth it in the long run. (PS If you aren’t a highly sensitive person, this is probably super easy for you, LOL! For me, it was an achievement!)