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  • Jamie Shannon

Antwerp to Ghent. Restoration to the max

Having been to Antwerp twice already, I didn’t hang around the following day but instead, set off mid-morning for Ghent. I cycled through the city and took the tunnel underneath the river that runs through it to the other side after which I made my way through the small towns of the Belgian countryside.

You know that fantastic feeling when you arrive in a new place and you don’t know what to expect, what you will see or indeed, whom you will meet? Well this is precisely how I felt arriving into Ghent and is the reason travelling just captivates me.

As usual, as I cycled through the city centre, I looked just a little out of place, but this I must say, would be the least of my troubles for the day. I’ll get to that later though.

Ghent is a beautiful city with a great vibe. Full of canals and beautifully restored architecture and of course the famous Belgian pot holes and cobbles. These were so bad that I decided to walk my bike a lot of the time just to nurse it over the worst of it. I took a Belgian beer at a cafe and relaxed with a bit of people watching and reading.

It was my intention to rent a room in a hotel for the night but as with most things, I changed my mind and opted for a bed in a hostel. In fact, in the end I changed my mind once again and decided to find somewhere to camp. I guess I just couldn’t bring myself to pay in order to sleep, so to speak. It wasn’t so much the fact that I would have to pay for a bed but merely that if this was going to be a test run for my cross continental trip, then I needed to be sure that certain things could be done day after day, such as camping almost every evening and so, this became my little objective.

First I tried to find somewhere on a quite pretty looking industrial estate just out of town but I just didn’t get a good feeling about it being so close to the city and so instead headed north out of town altogether; a much safer and somewhat easier solution to the problem at hand.

It eventually took me over one and a half hours to find somewhere and I only just got my tent up in time before the sun disappeared over the horizon. It was a great spot in a little village 8km’s north and also proved the theory that, if you asked the locals, they’re almost always very helpful.

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