Gent (Ghent) is another medieval city just 30 min. from Brugge. We drove there through the fog on Sunday morning. The fog didn’t clear until mid-afternoon and the temperature hovered around 40 degrees all day. It was kind of fun seeing this old city in the fog at first, but we were wishing for sun by noon.
We toured Graventeen, Castle of the Counts, first. The design is based on a castle in Syria so it’s quite different from other European castles. It was a residence for the Count at first, but for most of it’s active history, it was a prison. The exhibits featured weapons, torture and execution devices (like the guillotine).
We found a nice indoor spot along one of the canals to have a coffee break before meeting up with another free walking tour. This tour was led by a young Russian woman who spoke excellent English. She kept us moving along to stay warm, but my toes were numb by the end! We picked up some historical facts and tourist tips on the tour. There is a lot of construction in Gent right now because they are installing cable cars to replace buses. It was a distraction to me, especially in an area where there would normally be a good view of the amazing city hall. I wonder if the cables will also detract from the views of beautiful buildings.
We desperately needed a warm place and warm food after the tour. Hot soup and hot chocolate in front of a fire (it was on a tv screen, but still ok) fit the bill. After we were nicely warmed up, we went to St. Bavo home of “The Mystic Lamb” also known as the Ghent altar piece. The cathedral is incredibly complex, ornate and full of artwork. It’s too bad that we didn’t have more time to spend there before it closed at 5pm. We walked back through part of the city center and stopped off at ‘t Dreupelkot for a shot of jenever. This is apparently what one does in Gent! There had to be nearly 100 different flavors on their “menu”. I had passion fruit and Dick had ginger.
Since we had a reservation back in Brugge, we couldn’t stay in Gent past sundown. The lighting there is supposed to be spectacular. Dick and I agreed that we would have to go back for another visit — possibly after the construction is completed. There is light festival there in early February and maybe we can go to that next year.