Today we took the train into Ghent leaving François in Bruges. Ghent is an easy 30 minute train ride from Bruges and we are parked almost next to the train station, with the added bonus of 1/2 price train tickets on the weekend it was a no brainer for us, and a rest day for me and François.
The Ghent station is about a mile and a half from the center of the city, so we stopped and bought a day pass for the local transit which broadened our area to explore a bit. The first stop was the tourist information center to pick up a walking tour map of the city. Ghent is a bigger less touristy version of Bruges. It has all of the canals, cathedrals, and old buildings of Bruges just on a bigger less personal scale.
The center was very lively as it was Saturday and the local people were out shopping with the tourists. Ghent had a really fun feel to it and we enjoyed walking thru the center of the town. It is the third biggest city in Belgium, but avoided significant damage in both Wars so it has retained a lot of it’s pre-20th century charm. Recently as Bruges has been overrun with tourists, Ghent has turned into a major tourist destination as well.
After touring the center we decided to continue our beer tour of Belgium by visiting a couple of breweries, the first was Dok Brewery. It was in an old industrial area adjacent to some canals that is being converted to housing and small tech type businesses. Dok in Flemish means Dock in English and it was located in an old warehouse. We knew we had found a place away from the tourist route because all of the signs were in Flemish. When I apologized that I could not speak Flemish to the Bartender she smiled and switched to perfect English and told me not to worry, no one but the Flemish can. It really reminded us of some of the breweries in Portland that are also in old industrial sites. They had a wide selection of beers beyond the traditional Belgian beers. We enjoyed a taster tray and then a round of our favorites.
The second brewery was Gruut Brewery. Ton really wanted to visit because the head brewer is female. It is also set up as a microbrewery, so we enjoyed a taster of not just the traditional beers but some non-traditional. They were also excellent.
On the way back we were comparing Ghent and Bruges. Our conclusion was if you were visiting for a day you should choose Bruges, if you were visiting for a week we would choose Ghent.
Ton has been greatly entertained by Flemish/Dutch spellings, as they have lots of vowels. In the past she visited the Czech Republic and had difficulty pronouncing anything due to that languages lack of vowels, here the plethora of vowels cause her the same problem. Tonight she was telling our neighbors from the Netherlands that they need to lend some of their vowels to the Czechs so both languages would be easier to pronounce. I am not sure they understood her humor, but they smiled.