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A day in Gent

A short pause for two days before the next project begins. Gala and I have been working together and in each other’s pockets for two weeks, but haven’t had much time to spend together doing not very much. Somewhere in the past week, the idea of Gent came up, and in keeping with my weekend trips to nearby cities, we jumped on a train early afternoon.

The last and only time I’ve been to Gent was when Dasniya and I missed the last train from Brugge, and found ourselves at 1am or so sitting in Gent-Sint-Pieters, one of the more pretty train stations I’ve passed through. It turns out the entire city is quite intent on showing up that edifice. Our first destinations, once arrived, were a pair of bookshops. It turns out the English bookshop is nothing on Saint George’s, and the other one, despite a multilingual website was firmly Flemish.

Naturally, we decided to find a café to drink hot chocolate, eat chocolate croissants and so on, and so took a tram all the way to the end of the line, missing whatever it was we were looking for. This is though a rather good way to see and feel what a city is, and Gent, somewhat like Amsterdam is small and with little of attraction beyond its inner confines.

What is in this region though is delightful. Spires and and turrets stab at the vault above; symmetry occurs only enough to be folded into and out of , as a leitmotif around which other ideas flourish. Churches, yes, of which there are many, but castles, warehouses, dwellings and theatres all take part in this. The rooflines also show the beginnings of what is possibly best expressed in Amsterdam, and like that city the canals break across streets, winding the city together.

We walked for some time, feeling for the vague direction of a theater and nearby café Gala had once visited. Around 19h, down a street along a low rise, she saw this: Kunstencentrum Vooruit. This is a beautiful theatre, arched windows filled with red drapes leading ever higher until overtaken by turrets and other accumulations, one continuing upwards in unrepeating differentiations on each floor until arriving at a small, steep, windowed roof. Another opening outwards to a curved balcony high above, just large enough for a single person, sprung out into the void above the street. I could surely live in that.

The café was closed, but across the road. Oh really worth coming to Gent for. A small pub/café, some tables outside, but inside is the place to sit. We stayed only a pair of hours, but amused ourselves very much. Amidst the old signs for beer and seeing machines, dark woodwork, all scuffed and worn, statues of jesus, saints, apostles were to be found. And amidst all that also, we threaded together a quite debauched story of the real purpose of this bar. Perhaps to say, ‘Dikmaker’, ‘Slijterei’, ‘Krak Pils’, ‘Slagroom’, and other such words were too much of a temptation for our soiled minds to resist (especially when aforementioned jesus was greeting with open arms and beatific expression the deliverer of said Krak Pils).

The eetcafe is ‘t Gebed zonder Eind, which is not so hard to find, and the owner told us of a similar one in Brussels, which we intend to move on to next.