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Published: January 5th 2006
Ghent is a Lonely Planet "Off the Beaten Path" for Belgium but I would highly recommend it as a tourist destination and I think it would be an amazing place to study abroad.
Belgium! Quite a shock to the system after Barcelona, the people speak English, they don’t try to run you over as you attempt to use the crosswalk, and instead of leers and whistles from 70 year-old men with canes you hear “Bojour” or “Hallo”. So refreshing.
Friday as previously stated was rainy and miserable and Britt and I were exhausted so we stayed in Ghent and nothing too exciting happened. I met our wonderful hosts Emily from Kenya and Wim the Belgian and baby Bran.
Saturday was better weather and the trains in Belgium are buy one-way get return free on weekends so we though we’d better take full advantage of that and get to Brugge, a lovely town but I thought it had a very touristy feel. I kept thinking of how good a job Disneyworld does when it makes its mini faux-Euro town. Britt and I took a nap on the grass under the windmills so I recommend if you go to Brugge take a nap on the grass because it is the best napping place I have ever seen. I do not recommend that you wear high heels anywhere in Belgium because the cobblestone roads they
A tiny country jam-packed with public transit
are so fond of.
Sunday we were off to Brussels! Britt goes to church in the morning in Brussels so I walked around the center of town for a couple of hours, everything is so close in central Brussels and saw Grand Place and Mannakenpis, the statue of the little boy peeing. It’s a gorgeous city that oozes history. The capital of Europe!
Ghent was my favorite part of Belgium. The only thing I knew about it was the Treaty of Ghent from AP European History. It was so mellow with few tourists and I felt the most relaxed walking around Ghent. It’s a very student friendly university town and the biggest tourist attraction is the painting Adoration of the Lamb of God, the oldest oil painting in the world. We sort of saw it… we didn’t want to pay the 3 Euros admission price but we peeked through the door.
Britt and I were talking about the differences between Belgium and Barcelona. It’s hard to describe but we got the impression that Barcelona was pretty much obsolete before the 1992 Olympics. Tourism is such a huge part of Barcelona and it feels like the city is
Burg in Brugge
It has historical importance that I have forgotten
putting on a show for everyone and we’re always being told how amazing Barcelona is, how Catalan culture is the best and Catalan food is the best and Catalan language is the best. A couple of people asked me why I was learning Spanish because “Catalan is better”. 20 countries and millions of people speak Spanish compared to oh let’s say 3/8 of a country that speaks Catalan with parts of Spain and Andorra.
Back at UBC I had this friend, Rachel, who could speak Cantonese. One time I said I should learn to speak Cantonese, and Rachel said I should learn Mandarin because Mandarin is better- its spoken by more people in more places. I like that honestly and the Catalans should pick up on that.
Barcelona is a very nice place and I am glad I got to spend time there but it is swamped with tourists. Belgium felt so genuine and the people were wonderful. I liked Belgium better 😊
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