This morning we leisurely got ready and ate our breakfast, as we were leaving not only Delft but also the Netherlands for the next leg of our trip. I wrote a whole mess of postcards and we checked out, sad to say goodbye to our 400 year old hotel room, delicious breakfasts and quaint surroundings. Today was definitely our most complicated travel day, with 3 trains (and one dicey connection time) taking us from the heart of the Netherlands to East Flanders. Ghent (or Gand in French and Gent in Dutch) is our first stop in Belgium on this trip, and I was VERY excited, half expecting to see groups of short little curvy people who look vaguely like me and Pa guzzling brews and cramming waffles and frites into their faces.
Our first train trip took us out of Delft and eventually into a Dutch city called Breda, and because we were on a Dutch train and not a German one, the train was late and we missed our connection. We waited around Breda for an hour and hopped the next train, this time into Antwerp (also late). We huffed it from track 23 to track 1 (the Antwerp train station is a beautiful Art Deco behemoth) and made our final train from Antwerp to Ghent.
Right away you could tell the difference in the Dutch architecture from the Belgian – Belgian buildings in Ghent are taller and broader, less big windowed facades, but still ornate and beautiful.
We grabbed a cab at the Gent-Sint-Pietrs train station and headed into the old town, winding down streets lined by cafes, bars, restaurants, and galleries. We’re staying in the historic Patershol neighbourhood, which was in years past a working and warehouse quarter (Vancouverites, think Yaletown) and is now very trendy.
Our hotel is right on the canal and is actually 2 rooms let out by an enthusiastic Argentinian artist who has a gallery and her own housing on the main floor and the rooms to let above.
We dropped our luggage and hit the town, thirsty for our first taste of real Belgian beer. I had seen in photos a place called Her Waterhuis aan de Bierkant which is right on the canal and right over the bridge from our hotel, so we headed there. We found a table on the canal, Pa ordered a blonde on tap called Augustijn and I ordered the kriek on tap and we were in Belgian heaven.
At the table next to us sat 4 Americans who all work for Pepsi and are on their 7th annual Belgian beer sojourn. They get together, tour around and drink and take photos of all the beers, which sounds like the dream.
We polished off our second beers and ambled off in search of actual sustenance and happened upon a cuberdon stand that I had read about in my trip research.
Cuberdons are a Ghent candy, also known as “Ghent noses” because of their conical shape. The original flavour is raspberry, and they’re chewy on the outside and liquid in the middle. There are 2 cuberdons hawkers in the main square and apparently they are bitter rivals – apparently one gives you a better deal than the other. We decided to get a 3€ bag (he just grabs a handful and puts it in a bag) and move on…right next door to a waffle place. The last time Ma and Pa were in Belgium they didn’t get to have real Belgian waffles, so we made sure we took care of that on the first day here – so we each ordered one, crispy and covered in caramel.
A small waffle wasn’t quite enough food (seeing as we had all missed out on lunch) so we walked around in search of more substantial food, which isn’t hard to find in Ghent as there are restaurants and cafes tucked around every corner.
We settled on a restaurant, sat outside in the sunshine and had some more beer (quelle surprise) frites and mayonnaise. Thoroughly stuffed, we waddled back to the hotel to relax for the night.