Thursday, July 17, 2008

What Counts

Day 128
I was woken up early by some construction going on outside. I knew that I would never get back to sleep so I simply just got up and got going.

Soon I was at the train station and heading to Ghent. Once again I had a fun map all ready to go.

It was raining a bit so I popped into St. Baafs Cathedral to dry off a bit. It was pretty interesting. Ghent has a really beautiful old town. However, the Ghent festival was set to begin the next day and they were setting up everything. The scaffolding and stages were a little in the way when it came to admiring everything.

Still, nothing could obscure Gravensteen, the counts castle. Once I had paid I was given something I hadn’t seen before. It was a video guide to the castle. They filmed a movie about the count who had built the castle and his wife. They also showed the actors in current clothing while they were preparing for each scene. It was like a play within a play. It didn’t really go to far into the actual history and I think it was all made up, but it was really pretty cool.

The tour incorporated a huge number of rooms and even a walk that went all around the castle. The kitchen had burnt down or been damaged at some point, but no explanation was given. I also had a great view of the town from the top battlements.

Apparently the castle was also used as a prison because they had a very descriptive torture museum. It was a bit hard to stomach.

My next stop was the nearby Folk Museum. This place was definitely pretty interesting and I would recommend checking it out. They had all sorts of English leaflets to read, they just didn’t always seem to correspond to the displays.

Most of it was about daily life over the past 100 years. I liked the dresses quite a bit. My favourite part were the mock stores from 1900. They were really well done and the candy looked really tempting. I was also interested to learn that in Belgium paid vacations started in 1936. I wonder when they started in the US. For some reason there were several rooms decked out in orange plastic 70’s stuff. No idea why.

After wandering through the medieval town for a while I found an internet cafĂ©. It was the cheapest I had seen in a long time and I wished that I had spent more time there. However I was hungry and didn’t have the patience.

I popped my head into a grocery store that had been opened in the 1950’s and hadn’t changed much. Well, I hoped that the food had changed. Luckily this wasn’t like the candy store in Bruges.

The first friekoten I found was closed, but this turned out to be a good thing because I found a more famous one around the corner. This time I tried fries with mayo and meat sauce. It was fabulous.

I decided to head back to Antwerp at this point. Back at the hostel I made myself some dinner. I also met Anke and Carola from Holland. We hit it off and with American Tim headed to a local bar. Before we had gone out Tim told me that he was on the longest trip that he had ever heard of anyone going on. He was travelling for 7 weeks. When I told him about my trip he then told me that he felt like he was too old to be staying in hostels and travelling like that, that it was time for him to be an adult. He was 21. Hmm. I have noticed that where I used to talk about my job as in my former life and now I refer to it as when I was an adult. Or perhaps being an adult is not about a job and a mortgage but about having confidence that the life changing decisions you make for yourself are the right ones. The Dutch girls were far more interesting and we had a really fabulous time. I was a bit of a killjoy again though and headed back early. I guess waking up at 6 am isn’t conducive to going out late at night.

No comments: