Gent (V) - flower-market & boat-trip

Every Sunday Gent has its flower market on a square named ‘Kouter’. It is a really colourful scene, as shown by this picture.

It’s autumn (some of you would call it fall) and it shows!

Although not as affordable as would be the case in our home country it’s all reasonably priced - unlike France! So we have been able to buy beautiful bunches of autumn flowers to decorate our home, something especially our female 50% missed dearly for a long period of time. Note the vase, one of the relics we kept from our unforgettable narrowboat-period in the UK.

We already informed you about having a visitor during the 42nd week. Unfortunately she became ill halfway the week, combined with nasty coughing – perhaps cause and effect are the other way around. Anyway one of the measures, next to consuming a modest amount of alcohol per day as a course of treatment, was inhaling (followed, of course, by exhaling) thick steamy air, the latter created by hot water, mixed with a menthol-like substance. Not just like that but covered by a towel and leaning over a bowl with the described substance in it. It makes for a funny picture, although it was a really serious matter.

Fortunately it was possible to have a boat-trip on the Tuesday preceding the described illness. The boat-trip area is a ‘no-go’ for our little ship because of the fixed and low bridges. Both ladies are visible in the background, expecting more passengers and eagerly awaiting the moment of departure. The three of us turned out to be the only passengers on a capacity of 25. It’s obvious that the 2015 high season is a thing of the past. We were able to inform the boat-driver/guide about using only English for an explanation, thus being able to skip Dutch, French, German, Spanish, Swahili and Mandarin. Everybody happy, because it gave him the opportunity to tell us several extra stories, some saucy ones among them.

The last picture already shows a few stickers, pointing out that ‘tipping is usual’. We counted at least six(!), which did not leave the slightest bit of room for doubt. Having said that, our English guest was wrong-footed by the combination that is shown here. For a short moment she entertained the idea of a 25p tip. Alas, they are not that cheap in Gent! By the way the Dutch word for ‘tip’ is ‘fooi’. The letter ‘F’ has worn off, thus creating the word ‘ooi’. This is Dutch for ‘ewe’. So far for our brief Dutch lesson this week. (You’re most welcome.)

Here’s just one of the amazing buildings to be seen during the boat-trip. It’s the former fish-mine(?), nowadays used as a combined restaurant, meeting-hall and tourist information.

The ‘Rabot’ is pictured here, being a relic of the reinforcement over/next to the river Lieve. It’s just visible that the river is blocked off behind the building. A blocked off river??? Yes, Gent has altered a lot about its waterways in the past. We are told there are plans to reopen the river – as in many countries/cities. Our own home city, Utrecht, is just doing this at the moment. The Catharijnesingel, a historic waterway around the city, was partly infilled in the 70’s of last century to create a motorway(!). The process of rewatering it is in an advanced stage at the moment. We politely suggest Gent to follow Utrecht’s example.

We don’t have the slightest idea what and where this is. So this picture serves only one purpose, being a very pretty view – similar to numerous other ones during the cruise.

The ‘Gravensteen’, as seen from the river Lieve. Up to 1400 AD (that’s only 615 years ago, a tiny moment in eternity) this was the residence of the Counts of Flanders. Thereafter they moved to a more comfortable place. No central heating or television yet but more comfortable all the same. This enforced castle was virtually impregnable.

Same story here as accompanying the 9th picture. We do not remember where this was. We do remember, however, the reason for this photo. It’s the colour of the building. The red(dish) building that is. The colour was created by using ox-blood. Source of information: our single-lingual guide. We believed him of course but a nagging question remained. What’s wrong about the blood of a bull or the female version of the same race?

Not the colour this time, but the name of the restaurant ‘De Acht Zaligheden’ (The Eight Delights). What would they be? Being almost out of bits –we need them for uploading the blog-page- we are unable to consult our primary source of information, being Wikipedia. For the moment we can only tell you that we are already happy with one delight a day – say a glass of red port or a single malt whiskey. Not earlier than today we discovered the little sculpture of a saint in the small niche. Lovely! One could call this ‘collateral gain’.

Another pretty view which will hopefully please our viewers. We’re told –by the guide, of course- Whether true or not (the convent we mean) the statue is striking because the angel is wearing a gasmask and has a dagger in his/her right hand. It depicts the struggle against air-pollution and the way humanity in general manages to destroy planet Earth.

In the centre of the city, at the Korenlei to be precise, Marriot Hotel has bought three connected buildings, and made them into one hotel, restoring the facades beautifully – give credit where credit is due. Question asked by our guide: ‘do you know the meaning of the two swans on one of the facades that swim away from one another?’ Our answer was in the negative whereupon he explained that it symbolizes infidelity. Gent was an important port in ages gone by and the house was a brothel in those days. Het continued by informing us about the fact that two combined numbers 2 can symbolize fidelity as well as infidelity, depending of the way they are facing each other, or not facing each other. Got it! He might have told us more about symbolizing numbers but we have to admit that we forgot. As far as we are concerned we already know about one symbolizing number for many years but we’ll not go into that in order to avoid this blog needing parental guidance.

You have possibly noticed that this blog was in fact about week 42 – when we had a visitor. For the last week, 43, we did have another subject in store, being an every Sunday bird-, chicken-, duck- rabbit- and even second hand bikes-market close to our port. That would have been too much, so we’ll keep it in store in case we’re running out of subjects. We end this week with a last picture of our good ship moored in Portus Ganda, now already for a substantial period. Tomorrow, Monday the 26th of October, we’ll leave for Antwerp where we hope to arrive on Tuesday the 27th. Due to the tides we plan to have an overnight stop at Dendermonde (Dutch/Flemisch equivalent for Dendermouth). So we hope to be able to present our next blog to you all from Antwerp.