Thursday, May 7, 2009

Ghent, Belgium

Monday May 4th
Zeebrugge Belgium: A short ride thru the countryside lands us in the quaint medieval city of Ghent. From the year 1000 to 1500 this little area was bigger than London and second only to Paris. It was a huge trading center. There are forts and cathedrals still here representing many stages of this once great and proud trading center. Their pride was so strong that it got them in trouble with the ruling monarch in the 1500’s. They wouldn’t pay the new tax the king wanted, so he demanded all the people come before him dressed only in a nightshirt with a noose around their neck and beg for mercy. All the people in town still celebrate their stubbornness by wearing only a shirt and a noose and march thru town once a year. The highlight for Sue was seeing actual Guildhouses. It was drummed into her studies in high school and now she saw them for real. We see hams that are cured in the same way and in the same building as they have been for the last 500 years. Gothic and Renaissance architecture hand in hand everywhere. Then we run into another little bistro for lunch. One waiter, one cook, about ten tables. It was like being at one of the neighbors for lunch. Some of the unique food items here are eel in a variety of ways and mayonnaise on French fries. We didn’t have either. Next stop was a tour of a 3 person shop where they make chocolates by hand. Quite sophisticated, top shelf ingredients but quite labor intensive. We even got samples. We glean a little more of the town’s rich history and off back to the ship. The farming looks quite modern but quite small plots of land like you might see at home in the 40s. Americans are still held in a dear spot in their hearts for the help in WWII.

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