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Having Belgian citizenship and visited Belgium numerous times, I had never been to Flemish areas like Ghent. At first I thought I had taken a wrong turn and gotten off in the Netherlands, what with all the bicycles. Bicycle paths are everywhere. You have to make sure you’re not walking in one and keep an eye out for speeding two-wheelers. You also look right and left before crossing the street, because tram lines are everywhere, and this fairly quiet mode of transportation can sneak up on you!


Saint Nicholas Church (Sint-Niklaaskerk in Flemish) viewed from the top of the nearby Belfrey



These three towers – St. Nicholas, the Belfrey and Saint Bavo – make for the old city's medieval skyline.


Then there's Belgian humor...



Speaking of street art, there is an entire street devoted to graffiti.


The Scheldt and Lys rivers run through Ghent, past guild halls from when its history consisted of being a major trading center for grain, then textiles – now with the largest student population in the country.




Which gave rise to this interesting photo of us on a boat tour passing beneath a bridge.


People attach boats to their houses







Ghent has one of the weirdest city halls I've ever seen. It started out lavish gothic. Funds for the gothic part ran out. By the time funds were available again, they had changed their mind and went Greek.

Go figure...



This tree and its surrounding park were exceptional.

A day in Antwerp


An hour away by local train, Antwerp is twice the size of Ghent.







I’d always been curious about the diamond district, but now realize it was wasted curiosity – it’s just a bunch of shops sellng diamonds.

I visited one that offered explanations about how diamonds are mined, selected and cut.

Believe me, passing up that necklace for 20,000€ was not difficult.



Architecture sampling



The visit was short – walking the main pedestrian mall (above right) to the river, then taking smaller, back streets back to the train station.

A rest stop at Rubens House (museum devoted to a native son) led to a nice conversation with a local lady. These Flemish people have English down pat.

In fact, I was forewarned against using French – you know, language wars...

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