By Gabrielle Bellamy
Today, we had the opportunity to visit the cities of Ghent and Bruges in Belgium. A guide gave us a tour of each city. We traveled by charter bus (the Belgian football team’s bus) which gave us the opportunity to see the outer city limits, the highway system, and other sites of Belgium. Outside of the city limits of Brussels is mostly suburban and farm life areas. Their highway, or interstate, system is set up very similar to the United States. About 3 or 4 lanes for each side with exits every few miles (or kilometers since this is Europe). I also noticed many renewable energy pinwheels. I love how Europe minds its global footprint. Even in our hotel rooms, there is no way to leave the room and leave the lights on because you have to place your room key into a slot to turn on the lights.
One thing I admire about Belgians is that they know the history of their country and different cities. When we arrived in Ghent, it was quite early still, so there wasn’t a lot of hustle and bustle going on in the city. Belgians don’t typically start their day until about 10 (I’m a fan)! Despite the fact, we saw the most of the town which included the marketplace, some bars, an orphanage, a castle, the city hall, and many
canals rivers. My favorite site was Saint Bavo Cathedral because it is the home of the Ghent Altarpiece painting. I was very intrigued by the painting because it is indeed a masterpiece, but I had never heard of it or seen a replica. A painting like this, in my opinion, needs more recognition. The cathedral, like many other Belgian buildings, was built on top of the original cathedral, and visitors can view the original by simply going downstairs. A favorite fun fact about Ghent is that each time a baby is born, the street lights flicker.
Next, we went on to Bruges. We arrived in a marketplace area that was packed with people. Many of us needed a bathroom break. We used facilities at a hospital where it cost 0,50 Euro. This was the first time I had to pay to potty. Afterwards, we went on a boat tour of Bruges; it was absolutely beautiful. The only bad part was when a mommy swan pecked at our boat very close to my arm. We then had lunch. Our day ended with a tour of the Maes Brewery, one of Belgium’s most popular brands of beer. During the tour, we were able to go on the rooftop of the brewery and see a great view of the city. Overall, I really enjoyed my day.