Ghent

We’d done Bruges, the place most tourists head to from the ferry many times before. As lovely as it is, we wanted somewhere new.

Ghent seemed to be the perfect place; it’s approx. 1 hour drive from Zeebrugge, it boasts a historical centre (Kuip as they call it) and there’s a motorhome permitted car park.

We arrived at the car park at approx 11am, thankfully the circus which was recently occupying the lot had left, although there was a beaten up caravan abandoned there. The caravan itself looked new, the seats still had the plastic wrap on. There must be a story behind it?

Our intention was to slightly re-sort the van, as prior to departure at the last minute, things were simply thrown in and then have some brunch. We completed both tasks, brunch being a campervan favourite of ours; boiled eggs.

We chose to walk to Ghent, to find our foreign feet before attempting to cycle. Cycling in cities so geared up for cyclists is more daunting than driving, it feels like there’s a whole new rule system to learn; plus scooters up to 50cc can also use the cycle paths!

The walk is a good 30 minutes, only made difficult in 26 degrees. If you enter via Burgstraat you arrive straight at Gravensteen the Castle of the Counts, an impressive medieval fortress which in 1949 was occupied by a group of local students protesting againt an increase in beer prices. The siege lasted less than one day, CAMRA need not adopt the same tactics.

We avoided the many street fronted bars as our budget doesn’t yet allow for this luxury, even Stanley Dog was amazed by our will power. Instead we all opted for a drink of free water from a local fountain.

Fully hydrated we found Werregarenstraatje, an alley dedicated to graffiti where artists can freely exhibit their work. One rule though, respect works which are better than yours!

We strolled towards the City Pavillion or ‘the sheep pen’ as locals call it. An intresting structure which makes you ask ‘why?’ Needless to say it has won several awards. In this vicinity you will also find the St. Bavo’s Cathedral, Belfry, Church of St. Nicholas and McDonald’s!

A quick walk to St. Michael’s Bridge allowed us to look back at the aforementioned buidlings (less McDs!), all lined up for that perfect photo. From the bridge we could also see Gravensteen up the Leie. We headed in that direction to take in the trendy Patershol district; full of eateries and bars just to tease us further!

We stayed strong and headed back to the van for some long over due dinner – salad.

In all, Ghent is a lovely city and certainly a rival to Bruges. It would’ve only been made better if we had money to spend on food and drink.

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