Saturday, January 22, 2011

Walking through Art

The tunnel in Ghent

After Bruges I travelled to Ghent, Bruges. People were telling me great things about Ghent. How I HAD to go there how it was the BEST place in Belgium. When people tell you these kinds of things you should keep an open mind but you should also caution yourself. I did enjoy my trip to Ghent BUT... because people had talked it up so much I left feeling disapointed.

Ghent is the artistic center of Belgium. It's where the art, theatre and dance school is Belgium is located and is the location of Belgium's largest liberal arts university. Therefore the town is hip, young and very artistic. I liked that part about it. There are a lot of eating options in Ghent due to the college, a lot more vegetarian cuisine then I saw in other parts of Western Europe and a lot of green/eco friendly establishments. One of the hostels in Ghent is an eco hostel where everything is sustainable and the entire hostel is run on solar power. I could not stay there because it was full. Wish I could have because my hostel SUCKED in Ghent.
Gravesteen Castle in Ghent.

Hostel de Draeke is one of the biggest hostels in the youth hostel membership club. It has 9 floors and seems more like a college dorm or as I called it, an abandoned mental hospital than a hostel. It was too sterile, too cold and not very inviting. Also, maybe because it was close to Christmas the staff was not very kind, the place seemed overall abandoned and they seemed to take great pleasure in charging me for EVERYTHING from sheets to internet. Hot water also seemed non- existent in this place. I found myself longing for Snuffel and it's walk of shame through the snow!

But the location for Hostel de Draeke was great. It was located very close to the Museum of Design in Ghent, (A must for anyone in the arts...) and is also right across the canal from the Gravesteen Castle.
Highlights of Ghent
In Ghent's city square. Where I found the Beneighs!

Museum of Design, Ghent, Belgium
Museum of Design
A history of furniture, lighting, appliance, and home design mainly. They also had smaller sections on architectural design elements (such as cornicing) and textile design. The special exhibit on the day I was there was on a comparison of Art Noveau to Art Deco. It was really beautiful stuff and included glass wear, furniture, lamps, mirrors and knick knacks. Some of the Art Noveau books were layed open so you could see that each page was detailed in the corners.
If you go to the bathrooms at the Museum of Design you will go to what is known as the number 5 top bathroom in the world, according to a special I saw on the travel channel. Apparently, designed by some very famous Belgian designer the bathrooms are very modern and everything from the toilets to the sinks are all on motion sensors. No need to touch a single thing!
The top floor of the museum is all modern design by modern belgians. I saw the coolest things in there from coffee machines to sofas to armoire's in the shapes of castles.
The most awesome Lazy Susan, ever...

Walking Tour
I did a huge walking tour of Ghent. (AKA- I got lost and wandered...) I saw all the churches, the castle, the armory, the Belfry (They have one just like Bruges but not as tall and not as famous...) and the canals. Ghent is canaled in the city center like Bruges but as soon as you leave the historical district the canals are regulated to the outside of the city. Also in Ghent is the world famous painting "The adoration of the Lamb." I will give more details about this tryptic later when I cover the art section of my trip. You can find it as the Church of Snt. Nicholas and pay 3E for a great audio guide and to see the real painting/ restored behind glass. There is a copy of it in the back of the church you can see for free but the lighting is terrible. Pay the 3E.
Church of Snt. Nicholas in Ghent

Second Hand Shopping
I highly recommend hitting the vintage stores in Ghent. One, they are run by very nice people who want to help you find treasures. They are kind and you can spend a lot of time finding one of a kind pieces that would 4X that much in other parts of the world. I purchased a 70's dress and a 40's hat for myself and a present for another person. All of it was under 20E.

Street Art
Due to it's artistic nature you can find Art anywhere in Ghent. There are little theatre's everywhere (although they were closed for christmas when I was there). And the most famous art piece in Ghent is known as the Graffiti tunnel. An on going art piece that goes on for four blocks, artists come from all over the world and leave their mark. You can buy a can of spray paint or use the left overs left behind by another traveller to leave your mark on the wall. Don't just tag it though, be creative and express yourself artistically. The less beautiful markings are easily tagged over by serious graffiti artists who consider them NOT worthy of the public's viewing.

NEXT: Luxembourg, the smallest country in the world with the biggest check book!


  1. I am from Ghent!!! I love the city, shame you were a bit disappointed!Next time you're there, let me know as I am heading back and I will show it you again, this time making sure you'll experience what everyone else says it is ;)

    1. I think I was there on just a very cold, horrible day. I'm sure in the spring/summer it's much more fun!