This is the third and final part of a narrative of a trip to the Flanders region of Belgium that my wife Frances and I took in September 2018. This was an independent trip, not a package tour. It was our third visit to Belgium. Our aim was to visit the towns where my paternal grandparents lived, Kortrijk and Waregem. In addition, we planned to visit Ghent, a city we had read about but missed in our previous trips. Our plan was to spend three nights each in Kortijk and Waregem, four nights in Ghent, and two in Brussels before returning home to Alexandria, Virginia. The stop in Brussels was planned for a visit to the Horta (Art Nouveau) Museum and some shopping. However, our plans had to be altered, as you will see.
September 6, 2018 (Waregem to Ghent)
We ate our last breakfast in Waregem; I managed to toast the waffles without burning them this time. Then we headed to the railway station for our trip to Ghent. I tried to buy the tickets from a machine this time, but it didn’t like my credit card. We resorted to buying them from the humans at the counter, who did. The trip to Ghent was short and uneventful. The Ghent station is large and old, decorated with paintings and flourishes from the time when rail travel was king. We agreed that we should come back later to take some photos. Upon leaving the station, it was clear that we had arrived in a substantial city. There were tram tracks crisscrossing around us and bus stops around the street. There were also homeless people and panhandlers at the station door and in the little park in front.
We set off to find the B&B Entrenous. We didn’t have much trouble once we identified which of the streets radiating from the station was the one we needed. The B&B was a moderate distance, down a little side street. After being buzzed in, we were greeted by Christine, a professional photographer who runs the B&B with her son Jeroen. She showed us the sunny breakfast room and briefed us on how the B&B is run. The room wasn’t ready yet, it being well before check-in time. We pulled our cameras from our backpacks and went out to have a look around.
The B&B is convenient to Gent-Sint-Pieters railway station, but that means it’s a substantial walk to the center of the city. Although there was a tram stop right around the corner, we decided to walk so that we could see more. The route gave way from everyday business and residential buildings to high-end shops. The street crossed canals, and we were clearly walking along a main tram route. As we neared the center, we could see the medieval city laid out before us: three large churches (St. Michael’s, St. Nicholas’, and St. Bavo’s), the stadhuis, the Belfort, the castle looming in the back, and all of the medieval row houses on the market square and river banks. The ground floors of these were lined with cafes and bars, as in all the towns we visited.