My Travel Blog

The Grand Surprise of Gent

Wow! Gent was much more than we had anticipated. Yes, we had heard that some people prefer it to Brugge, but for our money it was far superior.  It has all the museums and churches plus its architecture is more varied and impressive.  Brugge is supposed to be quaint, but with thousands of tourists there’s nothing quaint about it. It’s also more expensive.  They really know how to stick it to the tourists. Gent is not as quaint, but I’ll take a slightly bigger city feel to hordes of tourists any day.

Our first stop was Gravensteen Castle.  This 12th century stone edifice right in the middle of town comes complete with turrets, arrow slits and even a moat.  The furnishings were stripped out years ago, and for a time it was a wool factory. They have since restored the castle and turned it into a museum of torture and death.  Lisa thought it was creepy, but she did take a liking to a couple of the displays.  In fact she said if I didn’t stop flirting with the cute Belgium girls she’d be performing a second circumcision on me. She couldn’t decide which of the two instruments shown below to use.  Ouch!!!


Double Ouch!!!

I don’t know what her problem was.  I just wanted to be the king…

It’s good to be the king.

From Gravensteen Castle we visited St. Baafs Cathedral.  We have been to many cathedrals, but this was one of the more impressive.  It didn’t hurt that the giant pipe organ was being played while we were there.  The church has many art treasures including a large original Rubens.  The most important treasure is the twenty-panel alter-piece entitled, Adoration of the Mystic Lamb painted in 1432 by the Van Eyck brothers.  This was another masterpiece stolen by the Nazis, and featured in the movie The Monuments Men.  In 1934 one panel was stolen and remains missing to this day.

Playing the pipe organ.

Lisa standing next to a copy of the Adoration of the Mystic Lamb. They don’t let you take pictures of the original.

A close-up of the center panel. That’s creepy.

We also visited the Design Museum and the Modern Art Museum.  For 30 Euro you can get a 48-hour pass to all the museums and the public transportation.  It was well worth it.

Our pass also got us a free boat ride on the canals.  We passed by an old abbey that was still occupied by fourteen monks.  In its heyday it had 100 monks.  In the morning they had one huge problem.  When I say one problem I mean it literally.  They only had one toilet.  The picture below is a picture of the toilet facility.

Note the little brick structure in the center of the picture.

The canals of Gent at night.

-Tom Miller
Author of “The Wave”  and “When Stones Speak”– 
Chuck Palmer Adventure novels


About the Author:

Tom Miller graduated from the University of Southern California with a Bachelor of Science in Geology. He is a consummate adventurer with over 1,000 dives as a recreational scuba diver, and an avid sailor who has traveled 65,000 miles throughout the Pacific including the Hawaiian Islands. Miller has also cruised the canals of Europe on his canal barge and given numerous lectures on cruising the canals of Europe, as well as sailing in the South Pacific. Piloting is also an interest of Miller's, and He has completed over 1,000 hours flying everything from small Cessnas to Lear jets.