Today was quite lazy, I had toast for breakfast, the first time in weeks. I discovered that Specloos, a gingerbread biscuit made in Belgium which is often served with coffee, makes a sandwich spread. It’s awesome and I’ll make sure I bring a jar of it home. I chatted with Jon, the fellow cycle tourer in my dorm and we kept talking until it was lunch and ice cream time (there’s Specloos flavoured ice cream too). Before I knew it, six hours had passed and it was time to get going. Luckily it was a short ride with plenty of tailwind so I didn’t need any breaks. I just put my head down and pedalled while listening to The Strokes on my phone.
As I approached the city I saw loads of bikes, there weren’t enough bike racks to contain them all. I looked for my hostel but I was surrounded by insanely beautiful buildings and kept getting distracted.
I found the hostel and after showering, I opened the giant city map to figure out what I should do. I met Brandon, a traveller from the US and we went to do laundry and had dinner and drinks in the mean time. The fact that I’m still excited to go to the laundromat is probably a sign that I need to machine wash my clothes more regularly…
Ghent is known for its nightlife, mainly because there are 70,000 students out of 250,000 people living here. Although I think this might be wasted on me, as it didn’t take long for me to remember why I don’t like clubs and loud bars. It’s alright, I can stick to beer gardens and cake filled cafés tomorrow.
In the morning I checked out the castle, which had some interesting exhibitions, one was Departures, artwork about dealing with death and the Museum of Torture. Not exactly light hearted for a Sunday morning, but the displays were randomly scattered, so one room had castle stuff like armour and swords, then a room of guillotines and whips, then a room of portraits of people on their deathbeds.
Luckily the rest of the day was less intense, I went on the walking tour and learnt some cool stuff about the city.
I really loved the buildings here, each of them tell a different story but there’s too many to include. The really detailed one belonged to a musician and the sculptures show his interests too.
The city had issues with graffiti, so they designated alleyways and some abandoned warehouses as legal places to create street art. It worked and there are plenty of noteworthy pieces around town.
Opposite the castle is a big square which was previously used for public punishments, nowadays it has been transformed into the square of life. On the far right, there is a light post (several around the square) and the lights are connected to the hospital, so every time a person is born here, the lights flash.
After all the walking I had afternoon tea and headed back to the hostel. There was a peace festival running today, so after I had a shower, I sat on the windowsill of my dorm to enjoy the music outside. The sunny weather and awesome city made this weekend a real treat, I definitely needed the break. Next week I have six rides and it’s starting to get tiring.