Ghent, home of the famous (to Belgians) Cuberdon. If I did indeed judge the city by it’s candy I’d tell everyone I know to stay far, far, far away from Ghent. I took one bite of that little cone of goopy, purple, sickly-sweet nastiness and threw the rest out the window. Gross. Just gross. And in defense of my Cuberdon hate, the other 3 adults in the car shared my convictions. The only fan was my two year old daughter…because sugar. Cuberdons aside, Ghent is honestly a great city. We’ve visited twice now and I think its a bit of “hidden” gem. So here are a few of my favorites from Ghent!
EAT ONE OF THOSE DAMN CUBERDONS
Yeah, yeah…I know I said they were gross. But if its a local tradition or a food unique to the area you can bet we’re going to try it! (Unless its some sort of raw meat…then count me out). Whether we enjoy it or not, its about the experience. For instance, the best place to grab some Cuberdon are from one of two small carts on the Groentenmarkt Square. The carts are run by rival families of Cuberdon makers who have been known to not only bicker but purportedly even full-on fight over who makes the best Cuberdon. Unfortunately, we didn’t get a show, but the guy at the right cart was hilariously friendly and even made fun of Dru being an accountant (always sure to make me chuckle ;-).
ST. BAVO CATHEDRAL
In my humble opinion, the most beautiful Cathedral in all of Belgium. The first time we visited the light was simply magical…perhaps thats what captured me from the start. The soft morning sunlight had cast everything in that glow that only stained glass can create. It was peaceful, quiet, and somewhat surreal. After walking the cathedral I paid the extra €4 to see the Ghent Alterpiece. I had learned a bit about it in my art history classes in college and I just generally love/appreciate art so I figured I should probably check it out. Even if you don’t particularly care about the history behind the paintings subject, the history of the painting itself is pretty interesting. The short audio guide (included in the admission) explains the importance of the piece and the wild ride it took before finally returning to St. Bavo in its entirety. Its currently undergoing a complete €1.4 million restoration, but remains on display for the public to view.
In an attempt to combat an issue with graffiti, Ghent dedicated an entire alleyway to the spray paint arts. Here, its perfectly legal for anyone to draw, well…anything. And the best part is its constantly changing. So even though we’d seen it this past summer, much of it was brand new to us this fall when we came back. Unfortunately, its now under construction, and equipment was covering some of the art so these are a couple shots from earlier this summer.
ÉÉN GENEVER AUB!
We went to Ghent a few weeks back with some friends that were in town and visited a bar called ‘t Dreupelkot. None us were feeling particularly jazzed about drinking (we’ll chalk that up to a week of drinking every day and our old age), but when in Rome…you drink Genever. Its the ancient ancestor of gin. I hate gin. But apparently I don’t hate old-school gin because it surprisingly doesn’t taste like someone soaked my christmas tree in vodka. The bartender gave us our shot glasses of genever, the low-down on its history, and the proper way to take the first sip – no hands, slurping only. We listened carefully and then my dear friend Kara tried to move her shot glass a little closer to edge of the bar and almost got her hands slapped for touching the glass. He was very serious about no hands. So we all slurped, and laughed and had a great time trying the local spirit.
There’s also a great little cafe called LKKR with yummy sandwiches and a mean cup of coffee, great views from the top of the bell tower, and a bunch of cute and quirky shops on Serpentstraat. Best of all, its all very compact and walkable – you can see everything you want quite easily in a day trip. So if you’re in Belgium, don’t pass by Ghent. It’s a great place to spend a day!!!