After 3 glorious days in Brussels, we headed out for Ghent.
Now, the best known tourists cities in Belgium are Brussels and Bruges, but between these two cities is the often over looked town of Ghent. Ghent is a cheap €13 and half hour train ride from Brussels. Ghent is a non-touristy fairy tale town with an amazing castle, gorgeous canals, cathedrals, towering spires and stunning Dutch architecture. Ghent would be perfect for a honeymoon or romantic getaway as it is a gorgeously picturesque and laid back town. It also is a photographers dream. I could spend days taking photos of the city. You can easily cover Ghent in a 1-2 day visit, starting with a trip to the castle followed by church hopping.
I wanted to have a different experience in Ghent while saving some cash, so I booked us in an old 12th century monastery that had been converted into a bed and breakfast. The monastery was truly like an apartment where they gave us a key to the living quarters and we walked up several flights of narrow staircases to get to our room. I think we were staying in the actual nun’s old room, it was huge and definitely the biggest room I’d ever stayed in Europe. There was a kitchenette, a window sitting area, a large bathroom with a tub (no shower) and an entrance mud room. Although it was very charming, and an interesting experience to look back on, I would not recommend it to others. It was fine for 2 nights, but it was exactly what it was- an old monastery. I don’t think the bedding had been changed since the nun left. It was quite dirty and just really did not meet the standards of a hotel. To be honest, this was the first time that we were truly paranoid of the possibilities of bed bugs. Also, hubby didn’t like the idea of “fornicating” in a nuns room. He, he. On the flip side, it was better than a hostel that would have been the same price.
As we walked from our hotel to cross the bridge into the historic city center, my jaw dropped. Ghent is like a fairy tale.
We made our way over to visit the town castle that dates back to 1180 A.D. This castle is truly remarkable and you can climb to the roof and see amazing views of the city. The castle dedicates an entire level to a large display of incredible swords, crossbows etc. Another level is dedicated to torture devises and techniques that were used in Ghent, with the most notable being the actual guillotine that was used between 1796-1861 , dried up blood and all.
We went on to visit several amazing cathedrals and after 2 full days or sightseeing, we were ready to move on to the town of Brugges.