A September 2003 trip
to Ghent by davidx
Quote: Why bother comparing it with Brugge or Brussels? Its history is very different and so is its appeal. . .and it really is great and gracious.
I would not claim to know Ghent properly - or any other of the main cities of Flanders - but having seen at least something of all of them, I rate it as favourite so far.
This may be partly due to the outstanding location of my accommodation - but so what? Everywhere is as you find it, and for me, Ghent was one of the top spots.
Plan a bit as well. The two museums I write about were not what would have automatically have taken my fancy, had I not done some reading. The city's main museum of ancient art was closed for repair, or I should have been there as well.
I regret missing that and also the Gravensteen [too much up and down for me] and the Beginhof [sheer carelessness on my part.]
I stayed two nights and should have extended my visit if the room had not been taken.
Now for the plus points and there are two mighty ones: 1] The location. The most magical waterside buildings in Ghent are on a road called the Graslei but they are best seen either from a boat trip or from the Korenlei opposite. At the bottom of these two riverside routes is St Michael's Bridge from which the best known view of the three towers is seen. At the top are the boats - on both sides by the next bridge. Jan Breydelstraat is a continuation of the Korenlei running up to the Gravensteen and the Brooderie backs onto the Leie, a canal running all the way to Brugge. At the front it is immediately opposite the Design Museum. The most expensive room is only €55 [mine was €40] with breakfast included and I don't think it would be possible to find a better location in all Ghent.
2] The Breakfast. It is of course a continental breakfast - though a boiled egg is included. I have definitely never had a more enjoyable breakfast of this kind anywhere. There were three kinds of bread, all very tasty, cheese and cooked ham and jam. Then there was one slice of a wonderful cakey type bread with fruit and nuts.
In short, if you can't stand the thought of sharing the toilets with the café customers in return for these advantages - - GREAT - - more chance of my getting in next time!
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on September 27, 2003
Jan Breydelstraat 8
092 25 06 23
This is very much a Flemish place with good local items. The à la carte items are much the same price as other restaurants but the menus are really good value, not one whit worse in terms of quantity, quality or accompaniments than the same items à la carte.
Vegetable soup, Gentse Waterzooi of fish, an ice and coffee cost me €16. This was one of about six menus which ran from €14 to €16. However there was one even better bargain available the first night but sold out the second which was called 'Menu of the day' as opposed to menu! It consists of a soup for the day, the plat du jour, ice and coffee for under €10 or just the soup and main dish for under €8. That night it was vegetable soup followed by steak and a mushroom garnish and, honestly, it was really top quality.
Add to that the fact that it is ideally placed for a walk round the main floodlit buildings and, as the saying goes, 'Bob's your uncle.'
09 225 45 41
Attraction | "Design Museum"
It is actually an eighteenth century building and was no doubt occupied by a wealthy family. Rooms have collected furniture from the seventeenth century onwards and remind me slightly of the period rooms in one of my favourite museums, London's Jeffrye Museum. In the Ghent museum the old kitchen is a wonderful display of carved wood extending even to the chandelier.
There is an extension which shows some art nouveau and art deco furniture and artefacts. I was lucky that there was a temporary exhibition on cutlery through the ages--I should never have made any effort to see something called that but the articles of cutlery with their lavish use of precious metals and of ivory were really quite something.
If there had been a very, very highly commended rating for some of the other Ghent places, this one would have got 'very highly commended', but it can't quite be classed with them--but it really is good!
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on September 27, 2003
Design Museum Gent
Jan Breydelstraat 5
Ghent History Tour
Attraction | "Three towers and the Stadhuis"
Todmorden, United Kingdom