Ghent, Belgium - the final European trip

My hair is looking 60's, no?
Last weekend was my last European trip during this visit, and I'm so glad I chose Belgium. After seeing Brussels in September, I knew there was something even grander up North. I couldn't have been happier with my selection.

If Amsterdam and Paris ever had a baby - it would be Ghent, Belgium. The city is a mix of historical buildings (600 A.D.), great fashion and gorgeous flowing canals. The best part? No pesky tourists. From what I could tell I was the only American there, and after living on an Air Base for 6 months - it was a treat to get away and get lost in the crowd. And yes.... it was crowded.  

If I had to pick between Paris and Ghent as my favorite city, it would be hard to choose. It's rich history makes you feel right at home, and a glass of perfection (hand crafted Belgium Beer) doesn't hurt either. I think I'm leaning towards Ghent as my favorite place in the world (for today).....

Like anything, travel stories are best left to photos - so follow along as I show you my weekend trip to Ghent, Belgium:

I traveled by train (no Fifi for this trip since I was carrying an extra bag for shopping), and honestly I was less-than-impressed with the buildings when I first arrived. They were a mix of industrial and bad 70's framework. My first thought was, 'uh-oh'.

However....once I checked into my hotel, I went out the BACK DOOR and found THIS. It was like walking into NARNIA.

Isn't this amazing? It was a crisp 59 degrees, so I bundled up in multiples layers and hit the street for sightseeing and lunch.

There are bikes EVERYWHERE. They weren't modern bikes either -they were cool vintage looking frames that had a touch of rust. Very vintage and very chic. 

I wasn't expecting sardines on my Salade Narcoisse, but I picked them off and enjoyed the rest. 

I was missing Fifi, so I rented a bike and took in the sights on the outskirts of town. Notice the boots and the grey dress? I remembered from my Brussels trip that the majority of women wore skirts, so that was the only thing I packed. Good thing too - Ghent was exactly the same way so I fit in perfectly. Blending in with the foreign locals is always important - especially when you're American. Too bad I was the ONLY person in town with platinum hair.  Oh well, maybe they thought I was Swedish. PS - thick tights and double socks are as warm as pants. I tested it - and its true. Add a thick scarf and fingerless gloves - it's winter warmth without the bulk.

I also jumped on the TRAM to see the sights.

And by canal boat. So lets see .....that is train, bike, tram and boat. I went full circle on transportation. Notice the swans? This city is so cool, they have swans over ducks.

My diet recently has been no simple carbs, so this beer and cup of potato chips was over-the-top delicious. Oh yeah, the giant chocolate bar with hazlenuts (not pictured because I scarfed it down too quickly) was exceptional as well. I might be on to something with the no-carbs-before-vacation idea. The indulgent treats over the weekend were truly savored!

There were several churches (19 - if you want to be technical), but I was drawn to this one named after the archangel St. Michael.

It was breathtaking inside, and the massive painting made you sit back appreciate the artists work and the amount of talent they had to do such incredible pieces. Between you and me, I enjoyed this church better than the Vatican in Rome. It seemed peacful and didn't focus on the Holy War.

I'm turning out to be the QUEEN of self portraits. This was in the church, and I thought it turned out angelic.
Here is a photo of one of the paintings. There was probably 200 of these paintings inside the church. Massive in size (approximately 15'x10').

Another angle. This is my 'serious deep thinking' look.

 I went and found my favorite -the local flower shop.

Ghent by night was freezing gorgeous, well lit and incredibly safe. The crime rate is very low and most people dont' even bother to lock up thier bikes. I felt like I was in another world and relished all of my time in this beautiful city.

For breakfast I enjoyed the best quiche I've ever had (tomato, basil and mozzarella). Yes - even more than Paris.  
One of the best parts of this trip was the incredible Flea Market. I will do a special posting tomorrow with photos of all of my purchases.

Belgium Flea Market Bliss
Belgium Fashion
Adventures with Fifi!



Gawgus things... said...

I think I'll defnitely be having myself a little trip here! xx

Miss K said...

so sad your euro trip is ending, i'll definitely miss the posts! looks like a beautiful city with a lot of history and culture.

Miss K said...

so sad your euro trip is ending, i'll definitely miss the posts! looks like a beautiful city with a lot of history and culture.

claire said...

wow it looks fantastic! i want to go travelling!

Claudia Moser said...

Sad you are leaving!

Selina. said...

That looks amazing!!! also i thought you should know that i have a marrocan eurotrash (or should that be afritrash) for you early next week yay!

Talitha said...

Great pics lovely, your hair is looking fab :)

Cant wait to read abt your Flea Market finds !

Talitha xx

Christianna said...

This looks brilliant! I now want to go visit Belgium! Thank you for all the travel inspiration!

Krista said...

I am loving all these pictures, what a gorgeous place! You are looking BEAUTIFUL, love seeing you most of all! The food is making me hungry!!!!

pglm said...

i'm feeling sad that all your adventures there will soon be over...can't wait to see your new treasures and did do a fine job of capturing your angelic side there in the church......happy monday...

Anastasios said...

Oh God! I never expected it to be such a wonderful place!!!!!!!
I definitely got to visit it one day soon!!!!!!!
Architecture, water presence, great food and bicycles... indeed they look and sound great!
Great photos dear Michelle, I guess it was really good timing to see such a great place just before going off Europe. It's good cause I know that you are coming back :)
I'll be waiting for your following posts!

PS I love your self portrait in the church! Angelic is indeed the right word :)

Sarah Pearson said...

Fabulous pictures as ever :-)
If your posts have taught me nothing else, it's that getting off the beaten 'tourist' tracks can have wonderful results.

Sarah Elisabeth said...

Looks like you had a great time! That quiche looks so good!!

Kelli Nørgaard said...

Thx for this post !! Ghent was not even on my list of must-sees, but now I think I need to do a bit of research because I love Paris and Amsterdam so I am SURE to love their love-child!

Tanya said...

Loving your travel adventures (maybe even kind of living vicariously through you :)).

Also, looking very chic, lady!!! Love your hair!

Bibi said...

Magnificent church! I would have loved to walk around in and explore it :)