Motorcycle Wanderings, General Travel, and a Weird Mix of Other Stuff

Our Day in Gent, Belgium

Our recent trip to Europe was one of the best vacations we’ve ever experienced for a variety of reasons. First, there was the Edelweiss Bike Tour at the Alps Touring Center, which I guess I’ll have to explain eventually. Then there was our visit with the Swiss Family Mac in Switzerland. But perhaps best of all was our visit with Annelies and Yves in Belgium.

Annelies greeted us at the airport with this sign.

Annelies is a co-worker of mine. She and her boyfriend, Yves, came to stay with Hubby and I when they visited the US last year. We all got along fabulously. Those who really know us know that says a lot as Hubby is a bit more picky than I am about folks he deems worthy of calling a “friend.” Their visit was far too short. At the time, he and I had already been discussing this European Edelweiss Bike Tours trip. He was super excited to realize we’d be able to pop in to see Annelies and Yves if we did actually go.

The bike tour of the Alps was motivation enough to get us to Europe, but the prospect of visiting with these two again sweetened the deal even more. The four of us were together non-stop from Tuesday afternoon when they picked us up at the Brussels airport until Saturday when they dropped us off at the same airport. There was not even one moment of contention during that entire time. That says a lot, too. I mean, how many people can you spend that much time with without one or the other being even a little bit annoying?

Annelies greeted us at the airport baggage claim area holding the sign she is shown holding in the picture on the left. ALCs = Assless Leather Chaps, which some of you might remember my explaining in a previous Blog post. (You can see me modeling them, if you dare, HERE.) This gave us all quite a chuckle. And the laughs didn’t stop until we left.

Anyway… another highlight of the trip, which I still kick myself for not photographing, was our Tuesday evening barbecue at their house, which was also attended by three more of my Belgian co-workers: Leo Huybrechts, Bruni Olbrechts and Mohamed El Malt. Yves, who loves to BBQ, did a fabulous job preparing a very wide variety of foods: calamari, rabbit, ribs and some other meat I cannot remember. He also assembled some typical Belgian appetizers of cold (not raw, but pickled or smoked or something) fish, which were lovely. I have to be honest, though, cold fish are not something I’d eat on a regular basis. I think it’s an acquired taste. Annelies also prepared a huge variety of other dishes. Even though it was a work night for Leo, Bruni and Mohamed, they all stayed until after midnight. It was a very nice evening.

The following day, Yves and Annelies took us into the nearby city of Gent for the day.

I have one word for Gent. WOW. (Eloquent, aren’t I?)

Houses along one of Gent's many canals.

Gent is a lovely, lovely Medieval city. It’s full of very cool, interesting buildings, many of which as Hubby kept pointing out, are older than the United States of America. It was built in the 13th century. I cannot possibly describe all the history in detail here, but I have provided loads of links in case you want to read more very fascinating stuff about this city which may actually date back to the Stone Age.

The Gravensteen (Castle of the Counts)

One of the absolute coolest sights we saw and explored was The Gravensteen, a castle that dates back to the Middle Ages. It is believe the first castle erected on the site was done around 1000 A.D. The present castle is believed to have been built in the year 1180. That’s over 800 years ago!

St. Bavo's Cathedral

Another old building we saw was St. Bavo’s Cathedral. This cathedral is famous for, among other things, its Adoration of the Lamb painting (commissioned in 1425). Parts of the cathedral date back to the year 1038. Photography is not allowed inside, but if you’d like to see a few images and read about the cathedral’s history, you can visit this Web page.

Guild house of the Bricklayers

Gent is famous for the multitude of guild houses (trade houses) in its central old town area. To learn more about Gent, visit this Wikipedia page.

More old buildings along a canal.

I have LOTS of snapshots from our day. All of my pictures from our day in Gent can be seen on my Flickr page. There are over 100 images there, but if you have the time, they really ARE worth viewing.

Yves and Annelies with Hubby and I

More pics will follow eventually highlighting our visit to Luxembourg City and journey through the Belgian countryside.

If you’d like to see more of Gent, I embedded a nice little tourist video below for your viewing pleasure.

7 Comments

  1. Mawsie's Gravatar Mawsie
    June 26, 2010    

    Fantastic-Love the music

  2. Annelies's Gravatar Annelies
    June 27, 2010    

    I was thrilled to read this! And I’m impressed you know the names to all the buildings. 🙂 I still can’t believe none of us thought to take a group picture at the barbecue. We’re slowly eating our way through all the meat we froze. And by the way it’s now 30°C here – I have absolutely no energy to do anything whatsoever. (Mike, I did say we Belgians always complain about the weather, whether it’s hot or cold… :-))

    Right, I’ll have to take a look at those pics now!

  3. June 27, 2010    

    You ask: “how many people can you spend that much time with without one or the other being even a little bit annoying?” Since I’ve done it a handful of times over the last year, I can answer: not that many! I hope I have a chance to meet Annelies and Yves one day, they seem wonderful.

    Being picked up at the airport with an ‘ALCS here’ sign is priceless. I’m LMAO over here.

    Realizing how old everything is compared to well, everything, in the US is something I’m still not used to and I’ve had that thought many, many times over the last year.

  4. Annelies's Gravatar Annelies
    June 27, 2010    

    You have taken some amazing pictures! And I love the one of you with all the chocolate. 🙂 By the way, one of my friends read your blog (the girl you got the Deadwood CD fir?), and she said you should submit this to the tourism website. Here’s the link: http://www.visitgent.be/eCache/VGG/3/513.dmdfbGFuZz1FTg.html. (Not sure if hyperlink will work, but you can just copy paste into your browser…)

  5. ToadMama's Gravatar ToadMama
    June 27, 2010    

    Annelies, the link worked. I just submitted my Blog post. Maybe fortune and fame will find me!

  6. June 28, 2010    

    Great pictures! If you want, you can add your pictures to our facebook fanpage Visit Gent @ http://www.facebook.com/gentfan. See you next time!

  7. Annelies's Gravatar Annelies
    June 30, 2010    

    By the way, Shan: if your travels take you over here, you’re more than welcome at our house!!

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  1. ToadMama's Interstitial Space » Blog Archive » More On Belgium on June 29, 2010 at 10:29 pm

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