Travel Postcard: 48 hours in Ghent, Belgium

Fri Jul 10, 2009 7:03am EDT
 
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GHENT, Belgium (Reuters Life!) - Got 48 hours to explore Ghent? Located only 30 minutes outside of Brussels, Ghent is capital of Belgium's Flanders province. The city has survived 1,400 years intact, but is so alive, it's anything but a medieval history tour.

Friday

5:30 p.m. Head over to Temmerman's, a local confectionary shop, at Kraanlei 79, before it closes at 6. Belgium is famous for its chocolate, but Temmerman's has every type of sugary sweet you can imagine.

6:30 p.m. Ghent recently became the first city in the world to declare one day a week as meatless. Even though Thursday is "Veggie Day," check out some of the city's vegetarian restaurants for the local flavor, such as Avalon 1, at Geldmunt 32.

8 p.m. Head over to Kinky Star, a rock bar and nightclub located Vlasmarkt 9. A listing of concerts are on its website, www.kinkystar.com.

Saturday

8 a.m. Take a walk along the River Leie. Head south past the university section to Citadel Park, the city's largest park. Located slightly south of the city, Citadel Park is four 4 km (2.5 miles) from the Korenmarkt, the central square of the city. The walk takes about half hour if you go a straightforward route, but walking along the river and checking out different parts of Ghent are part of the experience. Stop for breakfast on the way and pick up the Mastel, a donut-shaped bun native to Ghent.

10 a.m. At the northeastern corner of the park are two of Ghent's art museums: the Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst (SMAK), or the City Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Museum voor Schone Kunsten, or Museum of Fine Arts. The two could not be more different, with SMAK specializing in modern art and the Museum voor Schone Kunsten carrying Belgian art dating back 1350. Both are worth trips if only to compare the journey of Flemish art from the late Middle Ages through the present.

12 p.m. Pick up lunch at the Cafe Cite in the International Convention Center in the Citadel and explore the park for a picnic lunch. Don't just settle in near the Citadel (though that spot is lovely too), make sure to check out the Plantium, maintained by the University of Ghent and filled with all different types of flora.   Continued...