Random crap

This is a series of random shots out and about in Ghent.


St. Gas Mask with a vengeance.

I’m usually hostile about 32 o’clock.


Favorite saint, though I think of him as more masculine.

Pretty but not eating this, ever.

Can you say hangover?

I think they left some empty bottles behind. I wonder

if the hats help the hangover. I should get one.

This is an outdoor urinal. There are a number of these in different sorts

of configurations around the city, and, I imagine, in Europe as a whole.

Why do men get these and not women. Not that they’d want to use a 

public toilet. But it just seems unfair.

I’ll have the curried pepperoni, please.

Bikes in Ghent

This is the bike parking lot outside of the train station in Gent. Seriously. And it’s only one of several. How in the world do you find a spot in the first place and then how in the world do you know where it is when you return. And where the hell are all these people? In the parking lot of a large mall, say, Bayshore, there are people walking around. There was NOT ONE PERSON in this bike park. 

And the streets are paved with cobble stones. Riding a bike cannot be enjoyable. A city of masochists.

Gent, Ghent, Gand

It is an outrageously beautiful city. I have been to Bruges, a city in Belgium known for its beauty, a mecca for tourists, and it is lovely, but it’s tarted up to attract visitors. Venice is glorious and so are Paris, Florence, Madrid, London, all the, you know, typical hot spots of Europe but none is lovelier than Ghent. Venice, maybe, but Ghent is a real live city with people, an incredible transit system, real shopping (as opposed to touristy trinket shops), and no matter where you look it’s glorious. OK, the weather’s a little psychotic. And that Flemish language, ugh. Everyone speaks English, though, and that’s a help when you are trying to decide if they are speaking to you or clearing their throats. You can just say “English?” And they actually answer you in something comprehensible.

And although these pictures were all taken within a 5 minutes walk from Ashish’s apartment (in various directions) the whole city is beautiful. The first pic is the square just across the street from his apartment. And while there are tourists, there aren’t many. You cannot buy a Ghent t shirt. Much to my annoyance.

Ghent/Gent: the recap

This is an old post that was never published, I am unclear on why.

Gent is really a beautiful city. Although much of it is old, it is also lovely and vibrant, filled with people, lots of fashionable shopping and new construction. Like Hyeres, where I once had an apartment, I do not understand how a small town like this supports such magnificent shopping opportunities when you cannot buy a decent pair of socks in Milwaukee. But that is another matter.

More remarkably, Gent is half the size of Milwaukee and there is no real parking, the streets are filled with pedestrians. And the sidewalks, I might add, are not easy to walk on. They are cobbled with uneven 4 inch square stones. My feet and ankles hurt all the time. Despite all of those issues there are fabulous restaurants and food stores, greengrocers, chocolate shops all over the place.

Some general observations about Gent and maybe Belgium as a whole.

~  You do not automatically get water at restaurants. It is always bottled and you must pay for it.

~  There are no cloth napkins.

~  There are few stop signs and even fewer traffic lights. Traffic is slow and cautious. It is also lots of bikes, scooters, trams and buses. Trams always have the right of way, even before people.

~  Trams run on inverted tracks in the street, that are exactly the width of a bicycle wheel and while I never saw it happen, I am certain that if I rode a bike in Gent it would get stuck in the tram track and fold over. There are a lot of bikes, many with orange seat covers which are rain covers. I have no idea how the bicycle parking system worked. Bicycle parking lots look like piles of scrap metal. See below.

~  Men never wear their shirts untucked and in general everyone, with the possible exception of Ashish, dressed pretty formally. Very few running shoes were sighted.

~ We almost always needed reservations in nice-ish restaurants and the few times we didn’t need them was because we were eating early. By the time we had eaten and were leaving most places they were packed.

~ While smoking is not allowed inside restaurants, outside I was nearly always in the smoke contrail of the person walking in front me.

~ The name Gent (Ghent in English) is derived from the word for glove. In French gant, in Spanish guante. Apparently there was a large glove industry here at one time.

Gent, redux

Here’s a blast from the recent past. One more meal from Ghent. I did not bring my iPhone that particular night so it went unrecorded by me. Ashish was supposed to have sent me these pics a month ago. ‘Nuf said there. He sent them to me in November.

Cheese fritters, not so much. Although I admit they look good. How could anything deep fried and cheese filled not be good? They were just OK. Better than the horrid shrimp fritters though.

Carbonnade also looking good but was way too salty and the mayonnaise for the fries was flavored with something I didn’t appreciate. The mac and cheese, which had a different, and far more Belgian sounding name, was good. And I liked the place. They need to set the salt shaker down.

And I like salt.


Last night Ashish and I went to Valentijn. It was a little and lovely (if over kitched-up with hearts) restaurant where the husband cooked and the wife ran her ass off (two floors of diners with the stairs being more like a ladder and she in high heels). We ordered the “menu” and my appetizer of paté came with a glass of sweet white wine. I had ordered a bottle of completely luscious St Emillion which she poured for Ashish and but left me with only the white wine and while I am capable of pouring the red for myself, she took the it from the table and set it up on a shelf with many other bottles of wine (this caused me a certain amount of concern since, how would she know which was ours?) and so there I sat with the cold syrupy sweet white wine. She was too busy (although she never looked or acted harried in the least) for me to bother her so I drank the white wine like I was supposed to. Good Catholic boy that I am.

I did eventually manage to get the St Emillion. Thank God. The meal was exquisite.