Lance, Molly and I recently took the train to Gent, Belgium to celebrate our 4 year anniversary.
1 night stay
Schedule and Highlights:
Leave Düsseldorf Saturday morning by train and arrive in Gent just before lunch. Drop the bags off at the hotel before check in.
Hotel Carlton – This little hotel is great! We were greeted with a complimentary coffee or tea (and a water bowel for Molly), they gave us the run down of the city like we were staying with a friend in their hometown, and they even brought a fancy dog bed up to the room for Molly. It’s clean, very well run, and only a short walk from the city center.
Walk to the historical center and explore for a while. You can see all of this and more in just a few hours by foot:
Lunch – We picked up wraps at the local grocery for a few euro.
Beer – Gruut Brewrey – worth stopping by before dinner. Beer concocted by one of the only 4 women in Belgium with a license to brew.
Dinner – Restaurant De Rave YES! This was a nice place, for our anniversary dinner. There are no English menus, but it doesn’t matter. Put your finger randomly on the page and you’ll find something delicious. We chose the several course option for two with a preset menu, which happened to be duck. YUM.
OdeGrand – one reason we chose Gent on this weekend (mid September) was because of the OdeGrand music festival. There was classical music all around the city during the day and an open air symphony at night in the city center, accompanied by a spectacular fire work display.
Walk to the city center. Stop along the way to look at random things going on, like the book fair, and musicians posted up on bridges.
Brunch – De Nieuwe Onvrije Schipper – great food. We had an extraordinarily long wait, but it was because there was a mistake in the kitchen. I think the service is probably normally better, but still pretty slow. Don’t come here if you are in a rush. It’s a great place to sit and people watch, enjoy the old buildings and the water, and relax. There was also an art project next to us, where normal people could sit down and play the piano. It was incredible to see how talented normal people are. TRY THE MASTEL with the apple and cinnamon – YUM.
Candy – Gent has its own special candy, sold from warring candy stands (they hate each other evidently). The name translates to “nose” in English and that is what they look like. They are interesting to try, but for 5 Euro a bag, I wasn’t very taken with them.
Beer – see “City Beach” below.
Belgium Fries – I can’t remember where we went, but find a little stand and try these out. Belgium claims the invented fries, and I have to say they do them well.
Waffles – It’s Brussels that is known for the waffles, but you can find them here too. Don’t get any toppings. If it needs toppings, it probably isn’t the best waffle. If you find someone with a stand – opt for that over a restaurant.
Street Art – there is a graffiti street on Werregarrenstraat (I wasn’t very impressed. More graffiti, less street art). To see more authentic stuff, you have to get outside the city center. We found more toward O19 which has some experimental installations. We poked around outside and found some ok stuff.
I wish I had have found this map of the street art locations before we went.
City Beach – Even though Gent isn’t on an oven or lake, they still have a beach –DOK city beach– and its a pretty chill and quirky place. When we went, they were having a killer beer festival too – the strangest beers I have ever seen.
And then we caught the 5:30 train home.