Ghent, Party Town


Restaurant Row

Days before our arrival, Ghent had held a week-long jazz festival. During our single night, several squares were erecting stages to begin a week of rock venues which will give the students something else to scream about at 5:30 in the morning below the hotel window of some other unsuspecting tourist—not that I am complaining. This is a city of young people, which is not surprising given the large university and cold dark winters.

After Brussels and Bruges, we are beginning to tire of charming canal towns with chatty sidewalk cafés, warm weather, and architecture that yearns for male-dominated, lace-throated capitalism. The restaurants are surprisingly sophisticated by comparison with Bruges, given the youth, but then there are McDonalds and Pizza Huts to break the monotony of sea creatures tossed in a haze of burnt umber with a puree of shaved carrot core infused into their eye sockets. The streets are less crowded, but the prime seats of good restaurants are only available by happening upon a patron unfamiliar with the socialist concept of keeping a table without the brisk consumption of calories and overpriced drinks.

The historic interests are modest by comparison with our previous cities, but Kerry got in the necessary terabytes of raw footage from which he spends days (I imagine) culling a few chance photos meant to humiliate my meager skills—an unfailing accomplishment from a friend who owes me so much for doing so little. We had a leisurely lunch served by a rinestone-in-the-rough waiter with a quick sense of humor and a tolerance of an old American trying to be a smart-ass. I rather liked him, mutuality never being a requirement of my tastes.


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