From 2005 trip
One morning we took the train from Gent to Antwerp. We had spent days in Antwerp on our last trip to the continent,
and we just wanted to walk around. We walked through the shopping area until we reached the Notre Dame Cathedral, which we have dubbed
" The Autre Notre". This church has, count them, seven naves (the long corridors from front to back), three on either side of the
large center nave, making it on this count certainly one of the largest in Europe. It is one of our favorites. It also has at least
two large paintings by Peter Paul Rubens who lived and worked in Antwerp.
It was lunch time, but nothing really appealed to us. We
put off the problem by stopping at a frituur (a shop specializing in fried potatoes) and other fried foods. As our 2002 letters explained,
fried potatoes are not really French. They are the specialty of the Belgians – and these Vlamse Frites are recognized as the originals.
In Belgium and even in the Netherlands, people often have nothing but a large portion of delicious fries for lunch. Unfortunately
the usual sauce accompaniment of this lunch is a huge gob of mayonnaise. We simply asked for a large frites, plain, and then we sat
down to eat them. This put off the problem of a real lunch for hours.
After this, we walked down past the city hall square to
the river Schelde, a large river on which there was no traffic at all. There is a promenade along this river and last time we were
here a couple was sitting on the wall of the promenade hugging and kissing. Guess what! This time there was another couple hugging
and kissing almost on the same spot.
City Hall Square is another gem. On one side is the huge ornate city hall bedecked with
the flags of many nations, and on two other sides there are old and beautiful buildings topped with peaked, step facades decorated
with large gold ornamental figures of animals and people. Very striking.
Eventually, we started to get tired of walking, so we
decided to take a tram back to the station, and we started to walk to find the tram. As we did, we walked into an area that we remembered
vividly from our previous visit – so we stopped and had lunch in one of our old "haunts". After walking some more, we hopped a tram
back to the station and took the train back to Gent.