Day One: Brussels to Ghent

Around 8:15 a.m., on July 14th, the wheels of our Delta 767 touched down at the international airport of Brussels, Belgium. The once sleepy, medieval town is now the capital of Belgium, the headquarters of NATO, and the seat of the European Union. Between the six hour time change and the virtually no-sleep, eight-hour flight from the U.S., Cindy and I were not hitting on all cylinders.

Flanders from our plane

Looking out the plane window as we near our landing.

Driving from the Brussels Airport to the Royal Museums.

Unfortunately, our time spent in the capital would be brief. Before we departed Brussels for our first night’s destination, we visited the Royal Museums of Fine Arts in the grandiose area known as Upper Town. The complex contains three museums, each of which we visited over a two-hour time span: The Old Masters Museum (packed with an amazing collection of Flemish and Belgian art, containing numerous works by Van der Weyden, Bosch, Rubens, and Bruegel), The Fin-de-Siecle Museum (containing works from around the turn of the 19th/20th century), and the Magritte Museum (which houses more than 200 works by the surrealist, René Magritte).

On our way walking to the Royal Museums from our parking spot, we wandered through this lovely park, Egmont Park, in Brussels

Now this is an elevator! It seats ten and holds over 40! (At the Royal Museums)

Pieter Bruegel

At the Old Masters Museum

One of the big highlights of the Royal Museums: The Death of Marat by Jacques Louis David. The French Journalist, Jean-Paul Marat, has been stabbed to death in his bathtub by Charlotte Corday, his blood turning his bathwater red.. This was during a time of extremes during the days of the French Revolution. Corday was arrested and guillotined three days later.

Surrealist Magritte

One of the over 200 works at the Magritte museum

Van Gogh – The Peasant

I love this work by James Ensor (The Bad Doctors) at the Fin de Siecle Museum

Not sure what the name of this interesting Brussels fountain is.

We stumbled across this church on the way to the Royal Museums, the Notre Dame de Sablon Church, a 14th century Flamboyant Gothic church

Interior

We then made the one-hour drive from Brussels to Ghent, once a medieval powerhouse city, made immensely wealthy by the textile trade. It would be our home for two nights. Upon arriving, we parked our car at the parking location for the Hotel Chambreplus. We then clicked and clacked our way across the cobblestone streets on our 10 minute walk to our hotel. Actually, it turned into a 25 minute walk. It turns out the hotel had no exterior signage, so we walked right past it several times.

While looking for the hotel, we wandered down this appropriately named street, Graffitistraat. To discourage graffiti on all the buildings (which is very common in Europe), the Belgians came up with this solution: setting aside an entire street where graffiti is encouraged!

Hot air balloon floating over Ghent

Serene canals flow through Ghent

Hoogsport, the street upon which our hotel sits.

Our room at the four-room Chambreplus Hotel, the Congo Room, with appropriate decor.

We took a brief nap in the afternoon before having dinner at the canal-side restaurant, De Acht Zaligheden (“The Eight Beatitudes”; fitting, don’t you think!). After enjoying the excellent Flemish food, we walked around the old town for a while, stopping off at several stages where live music was being performed. We arrived on the first day of a huge, 10-day long, Ghent music and arts festival which draws a million people into town for various free concerts around town. While all the festivities detract from the historical ambience, it was cool to be in town during this time. It wasn’t overly crowded on our first day, but I imagine the crowds will increase as the festival wears on.

The reddish restaurant just to the left of the willow was our dinner dining spot.

Lovely dinner overlooking the canal

Escargot, as I’ve never had it. Excellent!

One of the excellent bands performing on the squares of Ghent

Canalside, Ghent

Ghent

My lovely traveling companion in Ghent

Did anyone lose a shoe?

Trying the delicious Belgian Waffle on Groentenmarkt Square

3 thoughts on “Day One: Brussels to Ghent

  1. The best escargot I ever had was in a Brussels, too…… many, many years ago. Loved the beautiful photos!

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