AND SOME FREE–ASSOCIATION
“I thought how lovely and how strange a river is. A river is a river, always there, and yet the water flowing through it is never the same water and is never still.” — Aidan Chambers, British children's author
By Kelly Sargent
GHENT is located at the junction of two major rivers, the Leie and the Schelde. Most historians believe that Ganda, an older name for Ghent, comes from the Celtic word "ganda" which means confluence. Besides these two rivers that meet in Ghent, there is a system of canals and waterways running through and around the city.
Several companies offer boat tours every day, all day long, and of course we were keen to take one. Ours lasted about 45 minutes and included cruising up and down the two quays, the Graslie (Grass Quay) and the Korenlei (Corn Quay), located on opposite banks of the Leie River, one of the most scenic parts of Ghent.
Here are pictures from our tour.
“It's not only moving that creates new starting points. Sometimes all it takes is a subtle shift in perspective, an opening of the mind, an intentional pause and reset, or a new route to start to see new options and new possibilities.” — Kristin Armstrong, professional road bicycle racer, three-time Olympic gold medalist and the most decorated female cyclist in U.S. history
by Kelly Sargent
WHAT KRISTIN said!! That was the whole purpose of this trip to Belgium. And in today's post it's true both figuratively and literally; we climbed Ghent's belfry. (Sounds a little euphemistic.) Actually I climbed it; Paul took the elevator.
Paul used to be fearless about heights, scaling the sides of buildings in Iowa City when he was a student at the University of Iowa. (Seriously! It was kind of illegal.) But over time he's developed a fear of heights. I used to have a phobic fear of heights, but I've worked for forty years at least to get over it through gradually increased exposure and desensitization. I didn't want it to be a limiting factor in my life. Now where I go scares Paul.
"Ghent is a city which enjoys itself." — Éireann Lorsung, author and editor
by Kelly Sargent
PAUL AND I have fallen hard for Ghent. We took so many pictures that instead of making two posts about this magical city, I'm making four. We like it better than Brussels and about 50 times more than Bruges. I'll explain why in a subsequent post.
Here's a little background about this old, old, but very hip city:
Ghent (Gent in Flemish and Dutch; Gand in French) is a port city at the confluence of the Leie and Scheldt rivers. It’s the largest city in East Flanders and the third-largest in Belgium. Archaeological evidence reveals a human presence as far back as the Stone and Iron Ages. In the Middle Ages Ghent became one of the largest and richest cities of northern Europe. Today it’s a university town and cultural hub.
The entire heart of Ghent has been a car-free zone since 1997, the second-largest such area in Belgium, behind Brussels which has the second-largest in Europe. In 2009 in an effort to fight the climate crisis (the UN says meat production is responsible for nearly one fifth of greenhouse gasses), Ghent designated every Thursday as a suggested vegetarian day and to encourage residents to participate, the city provided recipes, a list of vegetarian restaurants and cooking demonstrations.
Take a walk with Paul and me.
Paul Bridson and Kelly Sargent
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