Rick Gregory, Writer

Translating Messages From Heads To Hearts

Bruges Is Like An Old Pair Of Slippers, But . . . Ghent

We took a couple days’ hiatus back in Bruges, Belgium. We’d stayed originally in Bruges with Magda at her Aquarius Guestroom, and enjoyed the city and the place so much we decided to return. This time we did one of our FreeWalkingTours and had Natalie as our guide. She’s lived in Bruges for over 10 years now, though originally a native of Birmingham, England. One of the most striking things she said was that “Here in Bruges, there is no graffiti – and no crime. We don’t even lock our doors!”

Here we go again . . . Is it Ghent? Or Gent? Or Gand? This is crazy. All over Belgium, they have this uncanny knack of confusing you – unless you speak Dutch(Flemish), Dutch (Netherlands), German, or French. Then you’d realize they are all the same name. Maps, rail guides and schedules, anything printed really might use any of the three names. Even the signs at the train stations, which “identify” the station use random iterations of the names. It’s really confusing!

We’ve been in Ghent since Monday, and it has been a glorious spot to settle into. Everywhere you look you see incredible architecture that looks like you’ve just stepped into the Middle Ages. Oh wait . . . we just learned from Sebastien our FreeWalkingTour guide that nearly everything we see was actually built in the time immediately leading up to the 1913 Worlds Fair, held here in Ghent. Come to find out that most of the old buildings were either destroyed or simply fell apart.

Yesterday (today’s Friday), we took a day trip to a little town called Mechelem, though on the rail app it’s called “Malines.” Go figure. We’re in “Who Am I? Belgium.”