Return to Ghent

Trip Start Apr 15, 2003
Trip End Sep 01, 2011

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Monday, July 30, 2007

Hi everybody,
We haven't been traveling very much this summer and decided to take a long weekend in Ghent, Belgium. We've written about Ghent before (aka Gent)- it's one of our favorite places close to Amsterdam. It's normally about a 2 hour drive, but this is vacation season in the Netherlands so traffic was heavy and it took a bit longer. We decided to try our Tom-Tom's rerouting skills to avoid the traffic and didn't save any time (there are limited roads) but we did stop at a farm stand and bought delicious black cherries and plums which we ate the remainder of the weekend.

We found a new favorite restaurant in Ghent this time: Progres, located on the Korenmarkt. We had excellent very inexpensive Belgian food while sitting on a terrace beside one of the busy tram/pedestrian streets right in the center. Great people watching! Chris hit the flea markets while Melanie shopped the store sales and we spent lots of time wandering around neighborhoods and alleyways that we hadn't explored previously. Unfortunatley our favorite mustard store was closed for vacation so we left without restocking our mustard supply.

We also visited the local castle, Gravenstein, for the first time. It's a lovely, heavily restored castle and definitely worthwhile to see. Another first visit was the Design.Museum. This is a lovely small museum which was having an exhibit on "Domestic Aesthetic" where the design aesthetic in common household things was appreciated. In the exhibit we saw many things from our parents and grandparent's houses - like early Tupperware, metal juicers, hairdryers and early Hoovers. The permanent exhibit was very interesting too.

On the way home we took a detour to Lier, also in Belgium. Lier is a small town with a tower containing an astronomical clock. Louis Zimmer, a Lier resident, built complicated astronical clocks in the early part of the 1900s and installed this one in a local tower in 1930. In the base of the tower he built an astronomical studio with many complicated mechanisms to explain astonomical phenomenon.

Zimmer built a Wonderclock with 93 dials and 14 automatons. The clock was on display at the 1939 World's Fair in NY. Upon his death he left the Wonderclock and a collection of other clocks he had made to the town. The collection is now housed in a small museum.

It was a beautiful day and Lier was an interesting and charming stop on our way back to Amsterdam.

Happy travels!
Melanie and Chris
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