Day 1: Today was a long day of travelling. Our flight left Copenhagen at 12:30 and we arrived at AMS at 14:00, on time to catch the 15:07 train to Antwerp. We had bought our tickets online and printed them so we did not need to wait in line to buy the tickets. At AMS we also went into the bookstore to purchase 3 day Amsterdam transit passes (that we will activate when we get back to Amsterdam). You can find your train platform by looking at the screen above the ticket counter. At Antwerp we transferred to a train to Ghent and arrived at about 18:30.
We walked to the stop for tram #1 and the two ticket machines next to it. Neither would accept credit cards and I had no cash at this point, so when the bus arrived soon after I got on planning to pay the driver directly (at this point I had done no research on the public transit system here other than looking up which tram to take). However the driver was behind a glass wall so there appeared to be no way to pay on the tram with a credit card, so I didn’t. Fortunately we didn’t get caught.
We arrived at our amazing Airbnb apartment (https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/694738) on Savaanstraat and looked up where to go for dinner. We settled upon De Frietketel, a fast-food place that had great reviews. When we arrived we were told that they don’t accept foreign credit cards, so I had to go out and find an ATM. This turned into a 30 minute adventure running from bank to bank, where every bank rejected both my cards. Finally I found one that accepted one of my cards so I withdrew some euros.
Back at De Frietketel we ordered veggie burgers (they have a huge selection – the menu is only in Dutch but they were happy to translate as well as they can) and fries which were amazing and the portion sizes were crazy. We split a small fries and we couldn’t finish half of it.
Day 2: Today was our day for exploring Ghent. When we woke up we went to the grocery store to buy a few ingredients and cooked breakfast at home and ate on our balcony. We then spent a few hours walking around. Even though it was raining on and off the whole day, Ghent far exceeded my expectations. It’s a beautiful city to walk around aimlessly in, and there were surprisingly few people around. It felt a little like Florence without the crowds. We had lunch at the Soup Lounge, where the soup was big and tasty and 4.50 each. Afterwards we went to the Lijn office and bought day passes (5 euros each) for tomorrow so that we can take the bus to the train station the legal way.
After walking back to our place and taking a break for a while, we went out again and walked around near our area. We got dinner at Potatolicious (essentially an overstuffed baked potato, really good) and spent an hour or two walking around the old city and taking pictures. We bought a bag of Cuberdons/Ghent Noses from a street vendor before calling it a night.
Day 3: Today we took a day trip to Bruges. We took the bus to the train station and bought return tickets (13 euros each). Bruges was nice but I am so happy I chose to stay in Ghent. Bruges is a zoo. It is packed with tour groups (almost as bad as Venice) and it is no nicer than Ghent, which is a real city with real people, stores, and restaurants (that don’t have English-only signs). Anyways, it was still a pretty little town and worth visiting for a few hours. We had waffles for lunch at Chez Albert, which were pretty good. We spent around 4/5 hours there before returning home. After walking around Ghent for a little we headed back to our new favourite place, De Frietketel for another amazing, large, and unhealthy dinner. We went to bed early in preparation for our long day of driving and sightseeing tomorrow.