Our Barge, Odysseus

Sunday, July 13, 2008

In Ghent, or, Back on the Tourist Trail

Ghent was described to us as one of the most beautiful cities in Europe and, after a couple of days there, we have to agree. We entered on the canal that rings the city, curiously called the Ringvaart, and ventured down a tiny canal to a tie up near the center of town. From there it is just a five minute walk to the center of the city and, really, I just can't take enough pictures to give the flavor of the place. But I'll try.

We've spent most of the last couple of weeks way off the tourist trail. Even in Maastricht, most of the visitors were from Holland or Belgium. Not so Ghent. We're hearing much more spanish, french and german spoken on the streets. Lots more English, too. In fact, we were tied up alongside a Welsh couple, Roger and Peggy, who have a fondness for Rioja, the full-bodied red wine from Spain. Oh, my aching head!
We are seeing much more of the expatriate boating community as well. In Holland, everybody has a boat and the boating community is mostly local. There is a pretty good sized Belgian boating community but there are many more foreigners thrown into the mix. We're finding more opportunities to be social, if our livers can stand it!

And no, we tried not to get lost, even though this map is of Lier.

This is us with our friend Tim's son Michael. He spent the last 8 months going to school in Spain. I think it's the water that did that to his hair.

Tim and his son visited an old castle that featured an exhibit on medieval torture instruments. Michael liked it; I'm not so sure about Tim.

We were wandeling on the second day and crossed town to check out the new marina. We walked right into The Big Jump, a celebration held across Europe to encourage improvement in water quality.
There was a Mr. and Mrs. Big Jump contest and the winners were the first allowed to jump in and swim across the River Leie, to the delight and encouragement of the crowd.

They were soon joined by quite a few swimmers, many in some form of costume.

All those people on the dock are gonna get wet!

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