Monday 4th July, 2022
I only added the "h" for the Anglophones - in Belgium it's most definitely Gent. (or Gand, but let's not go there).
I have been to Gent before for a Davis Cup Final in November 2015 with some tennis-loving friends. We loved the city then but I always felt I needed to go back and see it in the summer.
After a final wander around Brussels city centre and an hour's work in the hotel bar, I set off for Brussels Central Station to get a train to Gent. Somehow I ended up being a bit earlier than intended and so found myself on a crowded platform waiting for the train. That might not have been an issue had the train pulling in not also been practically full!
Regretting not purchasing a first class seat I boarded anyway and stood in the vestibule - just like the UK! And it wasn't a long journey so no real hardship. My ticket did also include Gent Zone 1 which meant I could get a train to Gent Dampoort station where my hotel is. I did have a coffee in a local cafe first, and also took some time to admire the station architecture!
Navigating around roadworks meant a slightly longer than planned walk to the hotel but then I could dump the bag and head into the city.
And golly what a gorgeous city it is - an absolute delight to wander around in, and then have a bite to eat. I stopped at a cafe to have a home-made lemonade and got some free chocolate - you are asked to pay inside and of course there is a retail opportunity to buy some lovely chocolate! Great sales tactic (make a mental note).
I had a beer - of course - and checked out where the boat tours leave from (definitely on the list for tomorrow morning) then it was back to the hotel which is about a 20 minute walk from the centre. The canal area around the hotel is interesting and is obviously being developed with new apartment blocks going up and also the aforementioned roadworks. More to be explored tomorrow!