Posts Tagged ghent

A trip to Ghent (Part 2)….and some cool weather abroad!

Hello!

Must have a been a month or so since my last post so I thought I best get off my ample behind and write another post. Took me 5 minutes to get this far as WordPress keep changing buttons all over the place…it’s very annoying but I suspect I shouldn’t complain seeing this is all free and I can speak to my raft of fans (….cue tumbleweed….). Oh, Happy Valentines Day to all by the way. Hugs all round!!

Got the new bike the other week and it’s a flyer I can tell you. Who would have thought that a skinny tyre would make so much difference? So, if you’re around my area, don’t aim for the bike riders, one of them could be me. I’m also spending a bit of time souping up a fish-tank that I liberated from one of my work colleagues; had I known it was going to be so involved, I might not have. However, bits are slowly being cleaned, purchased and such…hopefully it will be filled and chugging away in the next couple of weeks. Bar that, all the news is work based so I shan’t bore you or risk being fired after ranting 🙂

Forward to the images!! As you can see, this is me finishing off the trip to Ghent, and in fact, the trip to Belgium entirely as, after this, we are back to boring old Wales. Not really. I shall try not to make it too boring…throwing in the odd interesting story as ever. Bar that, I could talk politics. Maybe not.

Anyway, here we go. First up are some pictures that I took when I went on the canal tour around Ghent. A lot of time was spent looking up as you can see. Interestingly, I swear that these canals were longer than those in Bruges but maybe it was that the tour was longer, who knows but I found it quite a lot more enjoyable than Bruges. First noticeable image in this set are the tops of some buildings we passed. I believe that the golden ship signifies that the inhabitant was a trader in goods from overseas or even a mater of a trading vessel (the nautical cues back this up). Whether that is real gold or not though is open to argument!

Does the top of a house need to be this fancy? I think not, but I suppose it was the thing back then...

Does the top of a house need to be this fancy? I think not, but I suppose it was the thing back then…

Next, we chugged along one of the longest buildings in Ghent where in days of old, merchants would store their goods. I seem to recall now hat it has gone the way of all old buildings like this, conversion in houses. But what a house you’d have, eh? Apologies for the man in the very bright jumper…the ability to take your time and use the art of composure is somewhat lacking when you have a moving target!

You! Metrosexual in the orange...tone it down!

You! Metrosexual in the orange…tone it down!

Around the corner past the square you got what I believe is the best view of the Gravensteen (mentioned in my last post) in the city. What an imposing building. That it got left to rack and ruin and was going to be used as a factory beggars belief. Should anyone be encouraged to visit this area of Europe after reading my posts, I sincerely recommend the few euros charge to get in.

Yes, it's that castle again (jarring chord)

Yes, it’s that castle again (jarring chord)

Further on, we came to a number of bridge and the canal started getting shallower and narrower by the minute…however, when you had lovely bridges such as this passing over your head, it wasn’t such a bad thing. I recall that this bridge is a recently restored one that makes up part of the University in Ghent.

One of the gates to the University of Ghent

One of the gates to the University of Ghent

All too soon, it was time to make an about turn at a very imposing and handsome gate (you can see, if you look through the bridge, that we could physically go no further as the canal has been dammed) but as we did, I also noticed some very large graffiti on the block of flats behind it…it appears to be someones cynical view of a treehouse if you look closely. Clever? Vandalism? I’m not sure…I find things like that quite appealing, I count myself as a Banksy fan.

Old and modern in one frame

Old and modern in one frame

My parting shot following disembarkation from our little boat and wandering to the train was this image of the archetypal curving and swooping frontages of shops and buildings that Bruges and Ghent are both famous for. Thank goodness for the rebuilding after the First World War.

A typical sweeping street facade

A typical sweeping street facade

Back in Bruges it appeared that interesting weather follows me. or maybe do I see it more than most as I can see what I am looking at better than some? I’m no Carol Kirkwood but as I arrived, it got very dark and then followed a hail storm with a hail core. Yay! I was lucky though, as my window faced in just the right direction, I was high up and the timing was right. Window open, camera at the ready….

The leading edge of the hail storm....

The leading edge of the hail storm….

I looked this up on Google and Wikipedia and it would appear the fact that we got hail was fairly rare, as these hail cores (feel free to do a Google image search, they look just like this) are quite rare at low levels and are usually seen at elevation where the stones are admittedly bigger. You can’t get lower than Belgium and its surrounding countries! However, the weather has been getting weirder of late, so anything is possible..

...you can now see the curve of the core and the rain and hail falling....

…you can now see the curve of the core and the rain and hail falling….

Just at the side, so no big hail. Damn. It was so dark, I expected lightning too. The pictures have been lightened slightly to bring out a bit of colour in the surrounding features…

...a little further on and the hail's still coming down....

…a little further on and the hail’s still coming down….

Then, just like that, it was all gone and we were left with a muddled sky, presumably all the turbulent stuff left behind by the wind.

...then, the turbulent skies to finish.

…then, the turbulent skies to finish.

Well, there we have it, a big finish for the last day of my Belgian exploration! Lovely place, very nice people, lovely food (all very reasonable if you stay away from the centre of the city), lots of beers, waffles and chocolate. What is there not to like? I should expect that I will go back, I found the place quite charming and educational. I hope you enjoyed the tours!

See you next time for some domestic scenery and weather, thanks for dropping in and enjoy the remainder of Valentines Day.

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A trip to Ghent (Part 1)….and some weird weather at home!

Hello and Happy 2015!

I know it’s a bit late but, I haven’t seen you. Looking good! Are you on an exercise program? Lost weight? Hehe…compliments over. Hopefully you all had a peaceful holiday and didn’t over indulge in mince pies and the like. I know I did but I am working on that. One of the steps is a new bike as mentioned before and seeing that will be soon, I am glad the near hurricane force winds that we had earlier in the week have passed us by. One night I had to park my car nose into the wind so I could get out without the door flying out of my grasp.

Also, some of you who reside in South Wales, or indeed the UK, may have experienced a fairly unique occurrence (well, to the UK anyway) in this last week. Thundersnow. No, it’s not a made up term (spellcheck thinks it is)…a quick explanation can be found by going to http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-magazine-monitor-30814403. I could have pasted the Wikipedia link but it was waaaaay too scientific. OK, so over me, it wasn’t thundersnow over me but thunderhail and thundersleet (yes, these are also real things).

All I recall is getting wound up behind a guy who couldn’t see a green light for toffee, then an almighty flash, no thunder, then a sudden downpour of soft hail which made the drive home VERY interesting. Think wet snow and people being tarts by driving normally. Apparently, the flashes are brighter in thundersnow and such because the light reflects from the moisture and this also in turn muffles the thunder, which accounts for the fact that I heard nothing but my father 4 miles away though the world was ending. He very rightly rushed out to garage his car, although the hail here was soft….we have recently heard from a friend that in Roch, 10 miles distant, it was powerful enough to possibly write off 2 cars we know of, but I’m sure others my have been damaged by multiple dents. I still think this is what damaged my bumper last winter whilst pounding a motorway, but Ford deny that their paint job is shite, so I have to take that on the chin. Anyway, pretty cool stuff eh? The only bummer it all happened when I was “sans camera”, so best use your imagination for an image!

What you don’t need to use your mind’s eye for is my trot around Ghent, or Gent, depending on which language you choose to write it in. Again, a lovely town with history oozing from the brickwork (hopefully not like Verviers which seems to have been oozing radicals…current affair based sly dig there). First stop from the rail station was a huge square where this is the main feature, the Belfry of Ghent, otherwise known as Belfort Ghent. Standing at near 95 metres tall, this is a further building that is recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Listed item, as is the centre of the city.

Good weather and a pretty awesome subject to photograph. Eeexcellent!

Good weather and a pretty awesome subject to photograph. Eeexcellent!

This building served a similar purpose to that of the Belfry in Bruges, in the first instance it was used for religion, then was converted to basically a look out tower and now is used as a landmark and holds bells that lend a unique chime to the city every hour. On to the next picture and couldn’t get over this…this building is not a church, nor a cathedral but, believe or not, is referred to as the Old Post Office. Pretty cool place to get your postcard sent from I’d say! Further on round the corner, you get a flavour of the “Old Town” also recognised by UNESCO.

The Old Post Office...come on, a post office? Seriously?

The Old Post Office and Old Town…come on, a post office? Seriously?

In amongst all the old buildings, there are always a smattering of news ones and I was quite taken by this one. From what I could see by snooping, it was a very nice restaurant for the well-heeled (judging by the prices) but I was amused by the signage you might be able to see at the right of the fence banning people from parking their motor cruisers outside! Possibly a Belgian nouveau riche thing….

By all means visit this restaurant at the end of the row, but don't park in front of it in your boat!

By all means visit this restaurant at the end of the row, but don’t park in front of it in your boat!

Now, to a castle with possibly the coolest name ever. The Gravensteen. Say it with a deep voice in a sentence involving torture and it sounds even better….”take him to the rack in The Gravesteen”. Mwuhaha! Alas, the translation is less spooky sounding, as it means “Castle of the Count”. Quite disappointing really. The castle you can see is from the 12th century but, apparently, a wooden version of the building has been here since 900 AD or so.

Spooky intimidating castle alert. At least it's not raining to add to the spook :)

Spooky intimidating castle alert. At least it’s not raining to add to the spook 🙂

The castle was as multifaceted as castles are; if anyone has the good fortune to live nearby a relatively intact castle you can explore, they get used for all sorts of stuff. This castle was used as a courthouse, a prison and eventually decayed. Houses were built against the walls and even on the courtyard and the stones of the walls were used to erect other buildings. At one time it even served as a factory! At the end of the 19th century, the castle was scheduled to be demolished but the city bought it and renovated it for future generations.

Prepare to repel raiders! Oh, it's only people going to the cafe.....

Prepare to repel raiders! Oh, it’s only people going to the cafe…..

Part of the renovations added the museums within the walls and a fully renovated basement and crypt, which was pretty creepy and too dark to get decent pictures of, I’m afraid. Mind you, the stuff they had in the museum was awesome…not sure if it was from the renovations at all but still, all the exhibits added to the atmosphere. Very tasteful.

Fancy waering some of this armour? Not me, I'm a mere slip of a thing...I'd do my back in

Fancy wearing some of this armour? Not me, I’m a mere slip of a thing…I’d do my back in

Now this picture I really like, the curve of the walls in the inner sanctum of The Gravensteen. Mwuhaha! OK, enough of that, but it really does, if you squint and concentrate hard enough, look as though you were there. Ignore the modern trappings and such, imagine stray farm animals and wanderings serfs and it’d be authentic. In fact, the BBC liked this placed so much that a BBC drama series “The White Queen” used the inside of the castle squares for some scenes and the outside view of the castle with the moat was shown in some bits of the programme (with some airbrushing for obvious reasons). See, it’s not just me with a keen eye.

The sweeping walls and lovely relaxing interior of The Gravensteen

The sweeping walls and lovely relaxing interior of The Gravensteen

Anyway, I do leave the castle (under protest), so will show your some further images of Ghent next time. I believe there was nice bit of hail core action I took some pictures of when I got back to Bruges too…if not next time, then soon. I’m even taking images of weather on holiday! Sad, I know.

I shall keep you up to date with regards out freaky weather here. I hope it relents soon, I have a bike to ride to get under 12 stone! Until then, keep safe and thanks from dropping in.

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A final wander around the canals in Bruges

Hello!

Firstly, I’d like to apologise to everyone if this post looks in any way different. WordPress has sprung and update on me and it took me a few minutes to get my bearings! All the buttons are here, there and everywhere when I thought that the previous version was perfectly acceptable. Onward and upwards I guess…I do a get this for free I suppose. However, I’d love the option of UK spell-check, I don’t like automatic corrections to the wrong spelling. Apologise does not have a Z in.

Enough grizzling. This is yuletide! In advance, just in case I forget, I shall just wish you all a Happy Christmas and peaceful New Year. Has everyone bought way too much stuff that they or the recipient doesn’t strictly need? Good. That’s how it should be. I plan to buy a new bike in the new Year as my cheap “let’s see if I can still ride” bike has travelled nigh on 1000 miles now and is beginning to creak a little….literally. It’s off to be fettled over the Christmas period then Mr Gumtree will assist me in selling it. Unless anyone’s in the market? I will give you “mates rates” if you mention the blog!

On to the pictures. as the title above alludes to, this was one of the final few trips I took around Bruges indulging in people watching, the odd museum, the occasional beer, a waffle or two and such. I don’t think that I have ever had a holiday where I don’t wander…I must have itchy feet. I remember a holiday once to Tenerife, a hulking great volcano in the Atlantic disguised as an island. Surrounded by such natural wonder and all that goes with it, what did my mother opt to do? Sit on the beach. Because, of course, she had been in the proximity of a live volcano that may one day wipe out the eastern sea-board of the US. I forgot.

Firstly, a bit of a random picture. I like stuff like this. I glanced over along the canal and what did I see? Why, a relaxing dog lying in the window of a 18th century house of course…bless.

Guard dog. Belgian style

Guard dog. Belgian style

Talking of dogs, I was in a shop this morning where I made a fan. A springer spaniel who would not leave me be. Mind you, she was a fantastically obedient and well-trained gun dog but she was so affectionate…kept staring at me whilst pretty much climbing up my leg. It must be my aura. I did actually say to the owner that she probably wouldn’t fuss if I put her in the boot of my car! This may well have been the case but apparently as soon as the “work” switch was thrown she was a very focussed gun dog. Amazing. My kind of dog…not like the lazy one above!

Moving on, I was taking advantage of the beautiful sunny weather to take a few wide building shots with lovely natural light as I walked around. In case you don’t recognise this area, it’s the lagoon where I took some of my night shots…..

One of the most picturesque lagoons I have seen

One of the most picturesque lagoons I have seen

I continued up the side of the canal past all the chocolate shops and sweet smell of roasting coffee to get to the gates of the city and the main canal that is used by the larger traffic nowadays. My first stop was the gate, I believe that this is Gentepoort (the gate from the direction of Ghent)….

Gentepoort...thankfully minus traffic and bikes on this occasion!

Gentepoort…thankfully minus traffic and bikes on this occasion!

As you might be able to see by looking down to the left corner, it’s not used for traffic as the others I posted images of were. In fact, the road passes to the left of the main gateway and the gate itself is used for a cycle path. Watch out for those bikes, they have right of way in most places and they don’t often slow down!

Up through the long narrow park running alongside the canal now and I was just in time to catch a picture of this big old bruiser of a river cruiser. On a recent holiday to Germany (this Summer) I saw more and larger versions of these moored and moving on the Rhine and Mosel. The prices for these are pretty steep and it seemed a shame for the passengers as they never even got out, the cruiser just chugs on through.

An invading cruiser on the main canal. It was so big all the other traffic had to move out of the way!

An invading cruiser on the main canal. It was so big all the other traffic had to move out of the way!

Anyway, I was fortunate enough to be able to review things at a slower pace. Much like this fisherman on the canal just along from the city centre. Not being able to speak Flemish (the most popular language in Bruges) I didn’t dare approach him to ask if he had caught anything, but the hunched shoulder and look of boredom gave me a good guess. I can’t say I would have eaten his catch myself but I suspect he was just there for the sport. Maybe.

Chances he caught anything apart from a boot and a shopping trolley, anyone?

Chances he caught anything apart from a boot and a shopping trolley, anyone?

Back to the main square in town now and look, blue sky! Time for a dizzying upward sky shot including the steeples of the old churches. Hurrah. That and the fact that there are clouds included; you all know my love of clouds by now (more coming on that soon).

Some lovely scenery....oh, yes, the buildings are nice too, I guess :)

Some lovely scenery….oh, yes, the buildings are nice too, I guess 🙂

I had a good wander around the grounds this time too and found that there was a small open museum in the bowels of the building. Alas, the signs were in French and Flemish so i could only glean a bit of information but it appeared that the area and the garden was a reconstruction of the area put aside as a medieval pharmacy that was used by the church for hundreds of years.

The garden outside the old pharmacy (the one that didn't have a security guard in it)

The garden outside the old pharmacy (the one that didn’t have a security guard in it)

Inside there was a sign saying that I wasn’t able to take pictures but, hey, rules are made to be broken aren’t they so I snapped one for you all. What an awesome place. Just imagine all the smells of the herbs and such when they were being measured and mixed by the monks. Even if they didn’t cure your illness, at least you smelt good whilst you lay in bed! There was a security guard sat in front of a small herb garden so I couldn’t push that one; you need to just close your eyes and picture that.

A stolen internal view of the old pharmacy. A bit different nowadays isn't it?

A stolen internal view of the old pharmacy. A bit different nowadays isn’t it?

Well, there we have it. Last post before Christmas. As I said before, have a good Christmas. I hope everyone gets what they wanted and if you don’t….well, you should have been more specific! Not too many mince pies and booze now but, having said that, I will have a bike for sale in the New year for you to lose the weight with, so, feel free 🙂

Happy Christmas. See you in 2015

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