|Ghent on a 48-hour City Card: Day 2
||[Jun. 29th, 2017|10:02 pm]
I posted at the time about how we spent Easter Saturday morning: we went to church. That is, it was grey and rainy and seemed like a good opportunity to visit the cathedral, and admire the famous altarpiece. Later in the day we found ourselves back in the cathedral square, and I took the classic photo of the building head on, and glowing in the evening light, but I prefer this shot from the morning, as we navigated through the back streets - the not very many back streets, because our hotel was so ridiculously central - towards that tower:
I won't repeat what I've already said about the cathedral, its contents and its ban on photography. Here's another surreptitious picture, taken discreetly in a dark ambulatory round the side of the main altar:
because I really could not resist. It's Saint Anthony, with his pig, quite small, decorating the door into a chapel.
In the afternoon we used our City Cards as bus passes, and visited the Sint-Elisabethbegijnhof:
Having failed to love the Begijnhof in Bruges, I was a bit nervous about this, but as it turned out, I liked it a lot. It was far less self-consciously presented, just a peaceful area of the city, with plenty of greenery and some beautiful old houses, and others being rescued from a state of decay. I sat in the churchyard and enjoyed the quiet, and puzzled over the one large memorial, while durham_rambler went off to read a notice, and returned announcing "I have learned the Flemish for dogshit." (It's 'hondenpoep', and a very useful word to know.) Judging from the pictures of the Begijnhof on the Tourist Office website, we didn't see half of it - so that's something to see next time...
But we wanted to explore some of the territory we had seen from the previous day's boat trip, starting at the Rabot, and gradually making our way back through quiet cobbled streets that were full of surprises:
This statue so took me by surprise as I turned the corner that I was halfway into an apology before I realised she wasn't alive. Brightly painted houses sat side by side, or faced each other across the water:
I plunged into dead ends, hoping for a glimpse of the castle, and was rewarded:
- not just the castle, but a cute mini-stencilled mural, and one of those ubiquitous sentimental padlocks to complete the arrangement.
Werregarenstraatje - or 'Graffiti Street' - is one of those curious tourist attractions that I'd be quite pleased to have discovered for myself, but am a little bemused to find in the official literature. The little guide we picked up at the Tourist Office tells me that it was set up as a temporary project during the 1995 Ghent Festivities, and survived: "In this rule-free zone, there is only one rule, that of the spray can - or simply put, respect works that are better than yours!" If only... The overall effect is colourful and chaotic, and a group of young people were using the alley as the setting for a video as we walked through, but the overall impression was greater than any individual piece, and there was scribble everywhere. In fact, the most striking thing was that halfway down there was a pair of gates, looking into this totally unexpected garden:
The second most striking thing was that we emerged at the far end, thinking we couldn't be far from our hotel - and, oh, look, there it was!
Time for a rest before we headed out for dinner. This was our third night in Belgium and we hadn't eaten any mussels yet. Tonight we would find a tourist restaurant by the canal and eat moules frites. We walked the length of the Graslei, studying all the menus, and eventually settled for De Graslei, sitting outside but under a canopy and in any case the place was so full of people there was no fear of feeling cold. The mussels and chips were all we'd been hoping for, and afterwards there was the view back from St Michael's bridge to enjoy:
We hadn't registered our cards until quite late on Friday morning; we could have fitted in another museum visit before we left Ghent on Sunday. Instead we went to the book market, and I don't regret it.
This entry cross-posted from Dreamwidth: comments always welcome, at either location.