Because I've lived in the beautiful city of Ghent for almost a year now, I decided to write a bit about it, as it definitely is part of my world adventures.
Start off your day with a big brekkie (or brunch for all yous who can't get out of bed early) at the Pain Quotidien, in the beautiful historic building 'De Post' on the Korenmarkt just across of the square from the Sint-Niklaas church.
The first Pain Quotidien opend in Brussels in 1990, today the chain has more than 200 locations on 5 continents!
Go to lepainquotidien.be/en/our-philosophy/ and learn the story behind this wonderful place.
(Not sure what to chose? I'd recommend the Angler Brunch if you're in for a big brekkie.
Ghent has a lot of historic sites including the Sint-Niklaas church, the Belfry (Belfort) and the Saint Bavo Cathedral (Sint Baafs). These three medieval towers the old city centre, where you will be heading after breakfast.
Follow the Leie north across the Graslei, where you'll find plenty little boat companies on your left and nice cafes and restaurants on your right overlooking the river, straight ahead through the cobbled street lined with some more restaurants and cafes, the Pensmarkt and over the groentenmarkt where you take a left across the water to find yourself on the Saint Pharaildis square (Sint Veerle plein) dominated by the great Castle of the Counts on the northern side.
This impressive fortress was built in the early 11th century like you see it now standing tall before you. Head across the square and through the massive entrance, once inside the main courtyard simply follow the signs and numbers up the stairs directly on your right to guide you through and around the Fortress.
It started out, almost entirely out of wood. Funnily enough. The count of Flanders was the first to fortify the place by building a medieval bastion on the high sand dune as early as 918.
It wasn't until the 11th century that the central wooden building was replaced by the stone residence.
The ‘Gravensteen’ as you can visit it now has been open to the public since 1907 after restoration.
For more, accurate, history/prices/opening hours/... of the site please go to following link to find the official website. Castle of the Counts, Hart of historic Ghent!
After all that historical wandering grab a bagel at one of the many bagel-bars, such as a cute place on Kramersplein (just behind Sint Pieters plein) in a hipster-y shop with bagels to die for @Bar Jan Creemer or @Jackie's Baglebar which is just a short 15 min walk across the city from the Castle of the Counts where you’ll find plenty of choice in bagels, cupcakes and donuts.
With your tummy full of bagels, donuts and cupcakes from Jackies take a strole by the waterside to the Vooruit, a vibrant arts centre as well as a significant meeting place which is practically around the corner from Jackie’s.
The 100-year old building houses four stages, four studios and a large café. Check the site to see if you can pitch in with a guided tour of this official historical landmark! (vooruit.be/en/)
Follow your feet south on the Sint-Pietersnieuwstraat passing the Rectorate and university forum (UFO) of Ghent University on your left just after the Vooruit.
Feeling peckish already? Take a pit-stop @Mayana chocolate bar a small heaven on earth place for everyone who loves chocolate!
(Don't know what to chose? the ice creams are delicious! <<<----)
Keeping heading south for another 300m to find yourself on St Peter's square and thus near the entrance of his Abbey, the St Peter’s Abbey. Find your way through the buildings and beautiful gardens and learn all about the history or just enjoy this calm green oasis in the middle of the city from the vineyard or orchid garden.
Fun fact: Did you know that the manuscripts from the St. Peter's Abbey's library contained a curse until the twelfth century? In Latin it says, 'This book belongs to the St. Peter's Abbey in Ghent, bless those who keep it, curse those who take it away. Anyone who tears out or rips a page, be under the Church's ban.'
Find more on sintpietersabdij.stad.gent/en !
After al long sight-seeing day make your way to Frituur Zorro or De Frietketel for some real upper class Belgian fries and take a final stroll next to Ghent's water banks flowing all throughout the city as if you were in Venice.
There is so much more to do (and eat!) in this beautiful city, I would certainly recommend staying at least a full weekend if not more. Trust me. It will be worth it!
It may not be as worldly famous as Bruges but it's just as beautiful and picturesque (if not more ;) ).
Up next is Dublin and Berlin for a couple of days each! I'll be back soon with more worldly adventures. Oh and a foodie post!!
until next time,