Ghent, Belgium

This blog is way overdue. To be honest I have been caught up in a love affair of  my European lifestyle and have been a slacker on sharing my travels. It's been great enjoying wine and trying new grapes that I have never even heard of before. I am discovering new cheeses and especially enjoying them for dessert, followed by an espresso. It's a good thing I like to workout and do Crossfit multiple times a week. My latest obsession is Belgian beer and it is only a hop, skip and a jump to get my hands on it!!

Ghent has always intrigued me. I remember learning in history about The Treaty of Ghent and how it ended the War of 1812 between the British and the Americans a long, long time ago. It fascinated me then, and it certainly fascinates me now. 

I think Ghent gets overshadowed by Bruges and Brussels, however I have been to both and Ghent has been my favorite. We stayed in the historic district of Patershol which has great walkability. The medieval city was gorgeous with the river running through and the Belfry looming over all.

These beautifully detailed buildings were located in Patershol. This charming neighborhood has a lot of alley type cobblestone streets with restaurants and shops located throughout. It's a car restricted zone so very few cars are allowed, mostly bikes and foot traffic. 

One of the places we enjoyed a beer was the Bierhuis located directly on the waterway. They have over 100 different beers on their menu, so a great place to try different styles. It can get crowded but if you head upstairs there is another big cozy room. 

This photo was taken on our free walking tour. It was two hours long and we learned a lot of interesting facts.  It was with Ghent Free Walking Tours and they have two tours a day in English and Spanish. I highly recommend them. 

This is Gravensteen, The Castle of the Counts. It was constructed in the middle ages originally for the Count of Flanders but has since been many things including a prison. Now you can visit and see many torturing and execution devices including the Guillotine that were used in Ghent. The entrance fee for adults is €10.

This picture was taken with the Castle behind me. I was standing on a bridge which was where the guillotine was used and the town would gather to watch people being punished for their crimes. Now it's another pretty viewpoint. 

One of my favorite beers I tasted on the trip was this Whitbier. It was refreshing with citrus notes of coriander and orange. It won best Blanche Beer in the world in 2009. We drank this with Beef Carpaccio at Keizershof. They had great food at reasonable prices in a candlelit atmosphere. There were a lot of locals dining there and they served some traditional dishes that we wanted to try. 

The Flemish are known for the dish Stoverij. I know it isn't aesthetically pleasing to the eye, but it was delicious for a hearty winter meal. This dish is very similar tasting to the Filipino's Mechado, definitely bringing back memories for me. This beef stew is made with beer, bay leaf, thyme, onion, and mustard from Ghent. Which reminds me that the local mustard is a must try and/or buy, it has great flavor, is very strong and will clear out your sinuses in no time!! 

Of course we had to have a little chocolate! Neuhaus was recommended to us by Karien who we rented our cute airbnb from. This chocolatier did not disappoint. We tried several things and my favorite was the caramel. Bloomberg rated her chocolate truffle the best worldwide. 

Another spot we visited was Gitare. This husband and wife team handpicked their favorite beers to create the menu. They are not affiliated with any breweries so it is a true representation of fine Belgium beers. If you are lucky you will meet their cute Brussels Griffons, the same kind of dog in "As Good As It Gets", added bonus!

We loved our stay in Ghent, the people are very engaging and friendly. The city has many restaurants, cafes, and pubs to visit. When we were there, the weather was cold, I would love to visit during the warmer months when the outdoors comes alive.