Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Saturday, August 25 On to Delft and Ghent

We wake up about 8AM. It is cloudy this morning and really looks like it will rain. Carolyn gets the luggage packed; Dick packs all the electronics. He goes to the lobby about 9AM for two large cups of their great hot chocolate...we wish we could take the machine with us! For breakfast we have the sweet rolls we found yesterday and the hot chocolate. Afterwards we check out and take a taxi to the Hertz place. It takes about 30 minutes to get the car and another 15 minutes for Dick to get things set to his liking.

The GPS is set for Delft, our first stop, but by the time we get on the road it is raining in earnest. Fortunately it doesn’t take long to get into the country side. We never got over to the windmill in Amsterdam, but we soon begin seeing them out in the fields. Several are actually working. About 2/3 of the way to Delft we see three windmills in a row along what looks to be a levee or canal. Since the rain has stopped, Dick takes the next exit off the motor way and he works his way back in the direction of the windmills. Low and behold we find the road that leads right to them. The one closest to the road looks like it is someone’s home. The setting is very bucolic...and just a few miles from several major metropolitan areas.

We head on into Delft and see the sign for the Delft factory so we make a stop. We have a private tour and learn some very interesting things about how the china is made.

After a visit to the showroom we head on into Delft and find a handicapped parking space near the main square. It is lunch time so we head to the square which is the medieval center of Delft. Just as we get there the heavens open up!
Fortunately it doesn’t rain long and we don’t get too wet as we stand under a shop awning. As soon as the rain does let up, we walk over a little stream into the square and find a cafĂ© for a bite of lunch. While we wait for our ham and cheese and salmon sandwiches, Carolyn walks around.
It is a pretty little village with the Saturday market in full swing. We barely finish our lunch before it is time to either feed the meter or head on to Ghent.

Back on the motor way it takes almost two hours to get to Ghent and another 30 minutes to weave our way through the narrow, one-way, medieval streets to the Ghent Marriott which is in the center of the historic district and our stop for the night. Thank goodness for a GPS!!! We are lucky and get upgraded to a canal room with a great view of the main canal and all the old buildings and church steeples...wonderful!
The people at the front desk give us a map and show us all the places we need to visit and inform us that we can pick up the canal-boat right out side the back door of the hotel. After putting things in the room, we head out to check out the city of Ghent.

Outside on the canal in front of the hotel there is a rowing festival going on. Crowds of people cheering the various groups as they row by.
There is also a bandstand set up with a band and beer bar. Our first stop is a boat ride...very interesting...lots of wonderful old buildings, churches

and bridges

plus the castle built by Philips of Alsace, Count of Flanders, in 1180, lining the banks.
It rains while we are out, but fortunately the boat has umbrellas. After the canal ride, the sun comes out as we walk to the main square, through narrow medieval streets, seeing the Belfry and Saint Bavo’s Cathedral.

Ghent is in the final stages of building a modern transit center in the center of the main square. It really looks out of place...seems like they could have designed one more in keeping with the style of the beautiful old buildings. Personally we think it will be an eyesore when finished. Yes, the city needs modern transportation but the station doesn’t have to be modern looking on the outside!

Our feet are killing us again...the cobble stones are not kind to them! Carolyn makes one last stop to find Jack a pin and finds a bonanza of delicate Belgium lace items. Back at the hotel we watch as the rowing events end and soon the water front is quiet and empty.

We enjoy a cocktail. Dinner tonight is at a little Italian place across the canal from the hotel. The price is very reasonable and the food is good!


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