My last day in Europe was spent in Ghent, an easy day trip from Brussels (50 minutes by train). With 250,000 people, Ghent is the second largest city in Belgium by population, but doesn’t feature prominently on the tourist trail. After Brussels, visitors usually go to pretty but over-touristy Bruges, or the port city of Antwerp. I am not sure why that is, because Ghent is a little jewel which Lonely Planet has called “Belgium’s best kept secret” as well as “the new Bruges”.
Located in the Flemish part of Belgium, at the confluence of two rivers, Ghent has not one but three squares, all of them surrounded by the typical Flemish renaissance buildings that make Belgium and Holland so recognizable.
I spent all afternoon last Thursday wandering around the squares, dashing into churches, and going up the UNESCO Belfort tower (topped by a weathervane dragon) for views.
I had a vegan lasagna at Avalon in the Patershol district, and a coffee and pastry on the terrace of a café on Sint Baafs Square, soaking up the sun, while a busker sang “O sole mio”, no doubt to celebrate the return of the sun after days of rain. It doesn’t get much better than this!
Instead of boring you with history and prices, I will just let you look at some beautiful pictures. After all, like so many other places, it is a picture that first made me decide to visit Ghent.