Tuesday, May 19, 2015


Tuesday morning we woke to rain in Bruge, but by the time we left it was sunny.  We had a lovely breakfast at our BnB, and really enjoyed visiting with a nice woman from Portland who was traveling with her parents.  Her husband is on sabbatical--they are so LUCKY to live in Paris for a year.  I'm only slightly jealous ;}  It was great to visit with them all--we meet the nicest people when we travel!

We left beautiful Bruges about 11:30 on Tuesday, and had a short 1/2 hour train ride to Gent.

When we pulled in to the Gent station it was raining sideways.  We decided we'd just relax over a cup of coffee, and found a Starbucks right at the station.  We sipped a cup of coffee and munched on a muffin while waiting for the rain to let up a bit.  Soon it was looking much better, so we made our way to the taxi stand.  I gave the driver the printed address and a map.  He looked at it for a few minutes, and then got out of the car to consult with his fellow cabbies.  Maybe he was new to Gent?

We set off from the station--the traffic was awful, and I think he drove around in circles several times, all the while sighing and grunting.  Finally he pulled over and fired up his GPS on his phone--and eventually we pulled up in front our apartment.   He was a little grumpy!  Not our problem--he'd quoted us a flat fee of 8.50--and we were happy to pay it!

We are very happy with our apartment.  It's spacious, well furnished and spotlessly clean.  The location is great--it's in an upscale shopping area (not that we do any upscale shopping!), yet close to "Old Town".  The only drawback-it's on the 2nd floor and no elevator, which normally would not be a problem, but the stairs are steep and winding with no handrail.  I'm a little pokey going up and down with my very stiff knee and sprained ankle!

The entrance is in a tiny alley way off a main street.  If we'd not stayed in many apartments in our travels, this probably would have scared me away--but it's really quite normal for apartments in European cities.

Bedroom area--the bed is super comfy.  The fresh flowers were a nice touch.

I like the old (non-functioning) fireplace:

This design on the front is interesting--maybe some sort of trade sign motif?

Huge, roomy bathroom, the WC is in a separate room.  There's even a washer!

The view from our windows:

We were warmly welcomed by one of the owners/managers, Wendy.  The apartment wasn't quite ready for us--she was still cleaning.  No problem, we just left our bags and went out to explore our neighborhood, have some lunch and find a grocery store to stock up on a few necessities.  We headed in the direction of Old Town, just a couple of blocks away.  It's a very pretty and interesting area:

We found a spot for lunch--and just in time, too.  A big, dark cloud rolled in and it rained hard while we were having our lunch.  Needless to say, we didn't choose a table outside!  We each had a bowl of broccoli soup and shared a goat cheese salad.  Guess who chose the salad?  David is seriously fixated on goat cheese salads!  I'll admit they are pretty delicious.

Finally the rain slowed down a bit, we paid our tab and walked out into the square.  We were right near  one of the main attractions in Gent, St. Bavo's Cathedral, so we thought this was a great time for a visit.

Here's a brief history of the Cathedral, courtesy of Wikipedia:

The building is based upon the Chapel of St. John the Baptist, a primarily wooden construction; it was consecrated in 942 by TransmarusBishop of Tournai and Noyon. Traces of this original structure are evident in the cathedral's crypt.
The chapel was subsequently expanded in the Romanesque style in 1038. Some traces of this phase of expansion are still evident in the present day crypt.
In the subsequent period from the 14th through 16th centuries, nearly continuous expansion projects in the Gothic style were executed on the structure. A new choir, radiating chapels, expansions of the transepts, a Chapterhouse, nave aisles and a single tower western section were all added during this period. Construction was considered complete June 7, 1569.

The cathedral is in the middle of a 5 year restoration now, and the tower is covered in scaffolding/sheeting, and no photos were allowed inside the church--darn!  It's truly a beautiful church, and we both enjoyed our visit there.   
The big draw of St. Bavo's is The Gent Altarpiece, or The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb.  It's displayed in a small chapel near the main entrance, and we paid $3 Euros each to see it-worth every penny.
WOW--it's an amazing work of art!  It was painted between 1426-1432 by Jan van Eyck, and has been well cared for and restored.  It is huge-14.5 x 11.5 feet, the colors are beautiful and vibrant.  It is just stunning!  It is displayed behind glass, and of course no photos were allowed.
The history of the altarpiece is interesting--it has the distinction of being the most stolen piece of art in history.  It was the subject of the recent movie by George Clooney, "Monuments Men".
After our time in beautiful St. Bavos, we set out to find a grocery store, stock up and head back to our apartment to unpack and settle in.  Long story short--we couldn't find a grocery store!  Weird--in all of our travels, all over the world, we've never not been able to find a grocery store--usualy there one every other block or so.  For some odd reason, there aren't too many in the several block area around our apartment.  Finally we gave up, and just went back "home" and unpacked, got organized and rested my poor knee and ankle.  Ugh.
Around 8 we went out for a late dinner, and armed with our trusty (ha!) iPhone map app, tried to find a grocery store again.  Unfortunately, we weren't getting good satellite reception, so our GPS didn't help us at all.  We gave up again--sheesh!  
We chose a nice Greek restaurant for dinner, and enjoyed a nice dinner of grilled lamb ribs, Greek pasta and salad.  We shared a carafe of good red wine--just perfect.
We slowly limped along back to our apartment.  David is soooo patient with my pokey pace, bless his heart.  I swear, if I was any slower we'd be walking backwards!
We got a good night's sleep--the bed here is great.

Tomorrow in Gent:  Probably another slooooow day of poking along and enjoying the sights of Gent.


  1. Nice looking apartment i would say....clean and nice....not overly decorated...sort of zen-like. I am glad, Di, that you are not over-exerting your sore legs. Did you receive the pics I texted to Dave's phone....my riding shirt with a big turtle on it with the caption: "Damn fast ...for a turtle!". I hope you got to see it. Sherry would gladly make you one to wear during your recovery. Take care you'll ! Dano

  2. Dan'l B: Saw it on Sherry's FB page--pretty cute! Maybe Dave & I need shirts that say "Tortoise" and "Hare"!!