Last February I discovered something new: the 36 hour holiday. Apparently, spending one night in a different place feels as much as a holiday as going away for a longer period of time. Since this revelation I have practiced this tactic a couple of  times. Mainly in hotels Matthijs stayed for his work. But in February we were on a 36 hour holiday together in Gent.

My impression of Belgium has always been that of a sad and gloomy country. The architecture is not really inspiring, the people look somewhat grave, and the city centres don’t seem to be all that vibrant. Whereas the Belgians are known to be bon vivants, they enjoy good food and good company. Last summer this vision of Belgium already underwent a slight shift. On our way to France, Matthijs and I made a short stop in Gent to have lunch. I had seen a restaurant on television with a concept that I thought would appeal to Matthijs. So I surprised him. The plan was to drive into Gent, have lunch, and continue our journey. But we stayed there for about four hours wandering through half of the city. If we hadn’t had a reservation at a campsite in France we might as well have ended up not leaving at all. In February we went back to Gent. On a Saturday morning we took the train there, and on Sunday afternoon we took a train back home. And we spent the night in a luxury hotel on a beautiful location. We had the best time. We wandered around for hours, had croquettes for lunch, meatballs for dinner, and a waffle buried in strawberries and whipped cream for dessert. The next day we had pie for breakfast, and a sandwich and a glass of beer for lunch. By now my view on Belgium has altered. Not everything is as sad and gloomy as I thought. Gent is happening, has a nice mixture of old buildings and modern street art, shop windows are carefully decorated, there are nice stores, and the food is to die for. But that wasn’t completely unexpected.

Do

Eat a waffle at the Graslei
Admire the Mystic Lamb in the Sint-Baafs Cathedral
Browse Paard van Troje  for beautiful and interesting books
(If you’re a book addict like me: don’t forget that there is a
limit to what you can carry)
Wander around