Get a Ghent

December 2 2017 – December 3, 2017

Christmas markets have quickly become one of our favorite things to do on a December weekend. Nothing beats walking around in the chilly weather, wearing a Christmas sweater, eating all of the fried food, and drinking Gluhwein. Since we had an open weekend, we decided to head to Ghent, Belgium which is just a short 2.5 hour drive from Amsterdam for the markets.

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So Saturday morning, we rented a car with our friends Shannon and Noah (Shanoah) for a quick overnight trip. The drive was pretty uneventful and Shannon fell asleep while I read the Elon Musk biography. But once we got to Ghent the party started. As soon as we checked into our hotel and walked out into the main square, we felt something was amiss. It was past noon and the Christmas market booths were closed. We thought maybe the other markets opened earlier in the day so we kept walking only to find more closed booths and crews setting up an ornament ride.

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After a quick google search, it was confirmed that the Ghent Christmas markets opened the next weekend. We were all pretty bummed as the visions of hot potato pancakes (Noah), Raclette (me), Gluhwein (Shannon), and wurst (Tyler) flew out of our heads. How could we have allowed this to happen! We played the blame game for a few minutes and it was decided that I should be at fault. But whatever.

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Since we still had hotel rooms and had driven all the way there, we decided to make the most of the day. Starting off by getting a yard of beer. We went to this cool place where you have to give them your shoe to get a beer. I guess this is due to the fact that people either try to steal the glasses or break them easily. We had no mishaps and everyone got their shoes back.

The rest of the day kind of turned into a sightseeing pub-crawl. It was so cold outside (-2 C) that we could only stand to see the sights for a short while before having to find somewhere to hunker down. Ghent does have a nice array of old Gothic architecture to admire and I was pleasantly surprised.

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On Sunday our plan was to visit the castle and hit the road. I really enjoyed the castle tour and learning about the different weapons they used throughout the castle’s history. We also saw the torture room of the castle and all of the torture devices. There were great views of the city from the top of the castle, and we finished the tour off walking around the grounds.

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While we were walking back to our hotel, we stumbled upon a cool alleyway covered with graffiti.

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Because we didn’t want the weekend to be a total bust, on the way home we drove 30 minutes out of the way to go to Taco Bell. It was worth it.

Here’s some of the bars we went to:
Water House on the Bierkant
Mosquito Coast
Trollekelder
Pain Perdu

Beers and Bruges

Beers and Bruges

February 4, 2017 – February 5, 2017

When I first started this blog, I told myself that I would keep up to date on my posts and make sure to finish one entry before going on my next adventure. Well, it’s 9 o’clock on a Friday night, and my next adventure begins in about 10 hours so I’d better make this a quick one. Here goes…

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I went to Bruges expecting a beer festival, and was pleasantly surprised by how beautiful and quaint the small city is. We (Tyler and I, plus our go-to travel buddies Maggie and Martin) rented a car on Saturday morning to make the three hour trek. As we were off to a later than anticipated start, by the time we made it to our AirBnB we were ready to drop our things off and head to the festival.

Little did we know that not only did we book an AirBnB, but it was actually a real B&B, with an old man owner who gave us a 30 minute history lesson on Bruges, complete with the history of all of the furniture in his house, and a map of the city with all of the must visit places. By the time he had finished, we were ready for a beer.

The beer festival is said to be one of the top festivals in Europe with an estimated 20,000 visitors to the small city during the weekend. I will say, it was very crowded. But, there was also some really great beers! It was different than the beer festivals in Nashville where you get unlimited beer for a set price. Here you have to purchase tokens for each beer you want. It actually made me appreciate the beer more, and I was thoughtful about my choices.

Post beer fest, we went to our dinner reservations at this quiet, small restaurant where the dining room was downstairs in a cave. Apparently, we were the only people there who had been to the beer fest and in hindsight we maybe should have gone to somewhere with a louder atmosphere. I’m sure the other customers weren’t too happy to hear us arguing about Davey Crockett. Anyways, it was a great day with great friends.

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Since we didn’t really see the city on our first day, we spent the whole day on Sunday walking through the city village. Per discussion with our local historian, most of the city was built in medieval times, and was a thriving city due to its position near the water. The vikings never pillaged through the town because they bought wool coats from the traders (or something). Anyway, the point of this, is that it is a really old town with a lot of beautiful architecture.

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We’ve already decided we’re coming back to Bruges next year for round 2 of the beer fest – if anyone wants to join!