May 23rd Back to Ghent

So many lovely memories of our Bike & Barge Tour in 2014 and this crazy lot!  Could be an interesting day!

More great memories from 2014:
Ghent to Bruge on the Barge
A day in Bruge - beer and chocolates

Weather forecast Temps expected 11-14 Celcius. Showers. Quite a contrast to the mostly hot and sunny of 2014.  Arrival zeebrugge 7:00 Departure 15:00
Started the day with exercise. Down to deck 4, (we live on 8), for the express English breakfast we had a card left in our room about, only to find it wasn't on, (whinging again but really how did they get that wrong?), up to 14 for brekkie buffet, (Garrie may expand - not one but six types of his favourite eggs bendict. From Scottish to German to Mexican styles),then back down to 4 to join our shore excursion.

The number of shore excursions is mind boggling (and some wallet smashing!).  We have opted for walking tours in the main and those that aren't all day so we have some time to relax.

Our first shore excursion is named: Ghent and the Art of Chocolate Making and we're off at 8.30am. Here is how it was described.

  • Discover the best of Belgium's cultural heritage as you tour the old city of Ghent and sample some of its internationally-revered, hand-made chocolates. If you have a sweet tooth, then this combination sightseeing and culinary shore excursion is sure to satisfy. Belgium is known for its production of delicious chocolates, and today, you’ll discover the fine art of Belgian chocolate making and taste freshly-prepared cocoa delights. Your day begins with a guided walking tour in the old city center of Ghent, where you’ll enjoy a superb photo opportunity from the top of St. Michael's Bridge. The sweeping views over this vibrant city encompass the Old Port, the thousand-year-old Castle of the Counts, and the 15th century Town Hall. After soaking in the sights, you’ll head to an authentic chocolate factory and enjoy an informative and exciting chocolate demonstration, led by a professional Belgian chocolate maker. Learn about the history of Belgian chocolate and how it is molded into different shapes. Best of all, you’ll be treated to a delicious tasting. Your experience culminates in the town center, where you’ll have some free time to shop for souvenirs and relax before heading back to the ship. 
4hrs 45mins moderate

I knew Ghent was away from Bruges but was disappointed to discover that it was an hour on the bus, so two hours of our 4 hours 45 was spent in a bus.  That being said our guide did point out quite a lot along the way.

We actually started at the chocolate place 

where Master Choclatier, L. Van Hoorebeke, 

and his wife took us through the whole process starting with the cacao bean.

And creating the shell of a chocolate

And filling it

To the finished products

With plenty of sampling along the way! We couldn't resist their 500g pack with 38 chocolates - one of every kind they create!

Then we toured Ghent and Guy was again full of fascinating insights.  I don't recall the names of all the buildings but, despite it being 12 degrees with light rain, we enjoyed it very much. This is the old meat market.

The ornate building is the entrance to what was the old fish market.

The river criss crosses the city

This is the cathedral

And this is St Nicholas church

This fortification was built to keep the Vikings out of Ghent.

Every building has a history. The centre building here is the corn store and it is leaning outwards as this meant lifting heavy loads up into it was easier. It, along with many of these buildings, date back to the 13th century.

This is where money was looked after - can't recall exactly what now, maybe the corn sales money, but it is just a tiny building sandwiched between two normal sized buildings.

On our walk the guide pointed out the best coffee house in Ghent. Garrie loves coffee so in the 30 minutes of free time I suggested we go there.

Was the coffee good? Garrie says it is the best he has ever had.

The guide also pointed out this vendor selling another local sweet speciality 

I don't recall the local name for them but they are known as noses as that's the shape of them. (Pavo you're the linguist - send me a translation of the stall sign please.) They are made with a berry that was brought back from the Belgian Congo and they are delicious with soft gooey centres.

And so we headed out to sea again.

I have to say that other than a vague hum and the view from the window you really wouldn't know you were at sea on this thing. It is incredibly quiet and smooth. We have heard nothing of neighbours in our room so excellent sound-proofing. The bed is huge and very comfy, just didn't have enough time in it as we had to wind the clocks forward an hour. Tomorrow is a day at sea so a sleep in is well overdue.