Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Bruges V - well, actually Ghent

Ghent was a short train journey away. It's a bigger place with a university and more industry, but the centre is old and, like Bruges, has canals. As the station is a way from the centre I got a tram, then got off too early so had a morning stroll the last part. I'd come particularly to see a painting that many people regard as one of the greatest in the world.
Completed in 1452 "The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb" was painted by Jan van Eyck, and his otherwise unknown brother, Hubert. It's often just known as "The Ghent Altarpiece", and has had a complicated history. It's been pawned, captured by Germans - twice - divided up into parts, etc, etc. One of its panels is still missing. It sits in a side chapel of Ghent Cathedral, encased in security glass. There were zillions of people around the day I was there, all listening to their earset thingies which lasted 50 minutes. It was hot, crowded, and not the best environment to take a look at this great work. I stayed quite a while, then made my way out - a bit disappointed that it was a bit spoilt by teh setting. I suppose like many of the great masterpieces of the world, it's a victim of its own fame.

The whole town centre is pedestrianised in Ghent, so you can stroll everywhere. I made my way to the canal area, which was very beautiful (picture left). Not as many trees as Bruges, but a better sense of the busy comings and goings that must have gone on in past centuries. There's a castle of the Counts of Flanders, in a little square where I got a seat at a cafe for something to eat. (I was told this afternoon that this blog is all about churches and food, so I don't want to let you down!).
Afterwards I carried on walking and started to feel my right foot hurting a bit. When I got back to Bruges I realised the padding on teh front strap of my walking sandal had worn off and the plastic bit holding the end of the strap had rubbed some of the skin off.  Ow. I couldn't do much about it as it was at exactly the spot where shoes are tied or sandals fastened.
By now the Olympics were in full swing, so my last day or two were spent watching the huge TV in the hotel lounge,  where they had BBC 1 on permanently, chatting with other visitors. We Brits had great celebrations on the Saturday night when we won those 3 athletics golds in 46 minutes or however long it was. I surfaced to make sallies out for coffee or food... Hard life eh?

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