The finer side of Ghent: beer and graffiti


It doesn’t take much to convince me that a city might be worth visiting. In the case of Ghent it took only one word: beer. I love Belgian beers and there are plenty on offer just about everywhere in the country. I’ve visited Bruges a couple times and found it reasonable enough, and Brussels is pretty meh as a place to actually be a tourist so I was looking for a different option. Ghent was it.

There are a few churches and some other great architecture in the very compact city center so getting to see all of it was super easy. But it also wasn’t particularly awe-inspiring on this particular day. Such is life, I suppose.

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Thanks to the advice of a certain otter I ended up in a great little pub, De Trollenkelder, which offered up a book full of choices for what I wanted to drink. I only regret that I had a scant few hours and a single liver available during the visit.

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As I sat in the pub, enjoying my Trappist Ales, I realized that the "usual" stuff in town really didn’t do much for me. Certainly not as much as the phenomenal beer did. Among the few I tried were the Westmalle dark and St. Idesbald Dubbel. The latter is served (if you’re willing to annoy your bartender by ordering it in the traditional manner) in a ceramic bowl rather than a glass. A bit strange, and I’m not sure that it did anything useful to the flavor, but it was quite entertaining.

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Wandering about town, trying to find something more interesting than churches, I stumbled across some great displays of one of the other features the town is known for: graffiti. I don’t know the history of the graffiti walls, but there are a bunch of them scattered about town and some of the works are quite impressive.

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As I headed down one of the alleys, checking out the work, the smell of fresh paint and aerosol lingered in the air; some recent activity, apparently. Very cool, indeed.

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I found a few different resources planning for my visit and, not surprisingly, the usual suspects were actually pretty useless. The guide from use-it.be was awesome, however, and I strongly recommend starting with it as you plan a visit. There is also a walking guide from the official tourist bureau which didn’t completely suck, but it also misses some of what I thought were the highlights of my visit.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

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