I guess I must really have liked it a lot after all.
When we were thinking of places to bring our visiting friends to, The Hague (or any place in the Netherlands, for that matter) just didn’t cut it for me. Maybe because I was just there a few weeks ago, the first thing that came to mind was Ghent in Belgium — even if it was three hours away. Surprisingly, my partner didn’t balk at the idea, so after passing on the suggestion to our guests the night before, off we went the next morning, back to re-explore the jewel that is Ghent.
Thankfully, our leaving at 6 a.m. made sure it wasn’t crowded yet when we got there around 9, with even Mother Nature seemingly cooperating – shorts weather with a slight cool breeze. It was nice to walk around knowing we had more time to just wander aimlessly, less pressured to be somewhere that wasn’t overrun with other tourists. It was definitely better this second time around.
Since we were parked in the vicinity, the first place we went to was actually the cathedral, which from the innumerable signs inside made it quite clear that no pictures were allowed. We pretty much followed that rule up until a huge tour group came out of nowhere clicking like there was no tomorrow – and no, they weren’t Asian – which we pretty much took as a sign that it was okay to do it ourselves. I can understand that rule while there’s service going on but with an empty church, it’s a little incomprehensible. More so since most cathedrals in Europe are practically deserted, it would make more sense to give tourists plenty of leeway. While I didn’t snap away unrestrained, I did try my best to capture the grandeur as best I could before moving on to the rest of the historic center.
Not to complain as mild exhaustion was starting to set in, and much as I wanted to spend the rest of the day in Ghent, there really wasn’t much else left to do. After seeing two churches, a Belgian chocolate store, a saint on a bridge, a canal, and a quick trip to a medieval castle, we walked to the busy Korenmarkt, settled for a burger lunch then drove back to Amsterdam. Oh, if only most cities were just as easy to cover. Thanks and till next time, Ghent, it was nice knowing you again.