Driving Through Europe-part#3

in #adsactly6 years ago

The sense of freedom we enjoyed while traveling gave our lives a new dimension.
Waking up early in the morning, in order to look around for as long as possible,
and wandering in the streets without directions,
as well as a mile-long wait for a few cans of beer, did not seem tough and tedious anymore.
It has become a part of travel, freedom and security.

On Tuesday morning, Mark and I woke up before the alarm. We woke up much before we would wake up to go to work. Ana was still firmly asleep.
The smell of coffee that Mark made spread all over the apartment. He poured two cups and gave me one. We sat together on the bed and enjoyed its taste. We looked at each other.
I did not want to ruin the moment. It was perfect and peaceful, while we were holding a hot drink in our hands, talking about yesterday's events, exchanging smiles, and planning a new trip.

We decided to visit Gent and on the return pass through Brussels. Ana woke up.
We brought her coffee in the room. All three of us were on the bed in a slumber, side by side.
The feeling brought me back to my childhood. Like playful children who plan to play a game.
I let myself go. When we told her what we planned, she could not believe it. Are you going on the road again, she asked us and opened her eyes wide?

The 260 km long road to Gent awaited us. We're on our way. We had to get out of town.
The morning buzz had already begun. People went to work. After waiting for two or three traffic lights, we got on the highway. Traffic in the opposite direction, towards Luxembourg was getting thicker. A long column of cars and trucks were slowly moving until they finally stopped.
This was not surprising to me because Luxembourg is a business city with large daily migrations. Residents from neighboring countries travel daily, in the morning to work, and they return home from work in the evening.

The drive to Gent lasted for several hours. While Mark drove I read some interesting facts about the city on the Internet:

It is located in the north of Belgium in the Flanders region and it is the third largest city, which has about 250,000 inhabitants. It is located at the mouth of the river Lys in the Schelde River.
The channel is connected to the North Sea and is a significant port.
I was very surprised by the fact that during the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries Gent was the second largest city in Europe, just behind Paris, thanks to the textile industry and trade.
Wool was the main driver of development and wealth of the city.
Gent center is the largest car-free area in Belgium, which is one of the main reasons why the medieval city center is so well preserved.
Gent is a student city with 65,000 students, making up more than 25% of the total population.

Mark had already visited Gent before, and it was the first time for me. He wanted me to see it because he really liked it. We parked our car in a public garage near the center and went sightseeing.
Since we had only a few hours, we visited the historic center of the city. We arrived to a small square where I noticed three medieval sights, exceptionally high and impressive towers that make a distinctive sign of Gent.
We visited each. The first one was the 13th century Saint Nicholas Church, whose tower was built in stages for several centuries.
At 91 meters of height there was the Belfry of Ghent tower, which makes it the highest bell tower in the country and is under UNESCO protection.
And the third in a row was the tower of the Gothic cathedral Saint Bavo. The construction of the cathedral lasted for a long time. It started in the 11th century and ended in the 16th.
In one shot I managed to get all of them from the Sint Michielsbrug Bridge.

We continued walking around the city; our attention was drawn to the narrow alleyways.
We went from one to another. Everything would surprise us again, a nicely decorated hotel, a showroom, a shop, a restaurant, a cafe.

I noticed that the center of the city is divided by numerous canals, over which there are beautiful pedestrian bridges. Along with some of the canals, there are promenades with imaginatively decorated façades, medieval buildings and numerous restaurants and cafés, serve as a gathering place for people.
On one of the canals it was possible to pay for a tourist boat ride, to sail through the canal and to see the city. Just for those in love, I thought.

You'll see something startling now, Mark said. We came to the bridge from which I saw a huge, old, medieval mansion. I was left speechless, completely surprised.
For a few seconds I just watched it, admiring his beauty and grandeur. We came in front of it.
I read that the Castle of Gravensteen, which translated from the Dutch means Count's Castle, was built in 1180. It was the seat of the Flemish counts. After the counts left the castle and moved to other locations, its purpose changed.

It was used for coining money, a court, prison with torture rooms, and in the 19th century it was used as a factory complex where cotton was produced.
Since it was in poor condition, at the end of the 19th century the renovation began.
In front of us stood a group of tourists and schoolchildren, waiting for the order to come to his chambers to take a look at it.
The next time we have to see how the castle looks inside, I told Mark while I was still curiously watching it from the small square in front of the entrance.

Surrounded by medieval architecture, towers, castles, canals, bridges, I felt like I was in a fairy tale. A warm, sunny day contributed to the feeling. The weather was too warm for November.

Mark became hungry, so he found a diner in the center, and I stayed on the city square.
I sat on a bench and tried to feel the rhythm of the city. I noticed the accelerated pace of the people, whether they had to go to trams and buses, rode their bicycles or rushed in some way. The teachers who led the playful children through the city tried to hold them together with all their force. I saw several trucks on the square from which the workers unloaded the working material. The hum of people was mixed with trams, buses, and trucks. I felt the hustle I hadn't felt before, and yet it was a working day.

A female voice interrupted my imagination and observation.
Please take a picture of me, asked a nice girl from China and pushed her camera into my hands. Of course, I answered. She left her bag next to me and then she was striking pose as a real professional for a fashion magazine. It passed through my head - who knows where these photos will end up ...
After that she thanked me, she tried to say thank you in my language. And I said you’re welcome in Chinese. I do not know how successful my attempt was, since I repeated that words several times.
She was certainly out of town hustle along with people sitting in the cafes and enjoying the rays of sun.

If the center is so beautiful, how do the more distant parts of the city look like, the thought went through my head. I bought two tram tickets. We went to the first tram that came.
After 5 or 6 stations all came out of the tram, and the driver told us that it was the last station since the tram line was further renewed. Mark and I had a good laugh. We returned to the center.

As the day went off, I was more and more sorry that we did not find any accommodation to stay for few more days in this beautiful city.
I was interested in walking through an old castle and seeing what secrets it kept.
I wanted to take a tourist boat through the canals. Visit museums.
Walk through the once-old medieval squares and streets, admire the high towers and nicely decorated facades. Something we have to do the next time, Mark said.

We were already pretty tired of sightseeing and walking. Along one channel we found a pub and sat for a beer.
In Belgium, a country known for its excellent beers, the waiter suggested that we try the beer imported from the United States, more specifically Massachusets.
I could not believe it. We ordered it, Spencer beer, Trappist India Pale Ale, and I have to admit it was one of the best I've ever tried.

When we went to Brussels, the night fell. We walked through the center and took pictures of the main square. It was beautiful, large, bright and crowded.
We did not stay for long, a long way back to Luxembourg awaited us.

Authored by: @lufcija

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