Who knew Ghent, Belgium was the prettiest city in the world?

While admittedly your mileage may vary, I was surprised to find yesterday that the town of Ghent, in Dutch (Flemish) Belgium, is quite possibly the prettiest place I’ve ever visited.

The first thing you notice on entering Ghent is the guys (and gals). They’re kind of hot. Especially as compared to Brussels, which, coming from Paris, was a bit of a let-down on the personal beauty front. Ghentians (I made that word up) however are smoking. And they’re awfully nice too.

Putting aside for a moment the personal beauty of the locals, the town is simply gorgeous. Very Amsterdam-y, but even prettier IMHO. I mean, look at this — and the view just goes on and on and on for blocks and blocks and blocks. This is definitely one of those “I can’t believe people actually live like this” kind of towns.

gent-river

I’m in Europe for my annual medical tourism (and for a variety of meetings for work), and decided to visit some old friends who are working in Brussels. They suggested we head to the town of Ghent for the annual festival, and boy am I glad they did.

Belgium, as you know, is split in two (ish), with a French half and a Dutch half. Brussels is French-speaking (though situated in the Dutch half, like Berlin of old), while Ghent is Flemish speaking.

Every year, Ghent has a rather large, and rather well-known, festival.  And the thing is huge.  It’s hard to describe how many people were there.  We walked for hours and hours and hours and the thing just goes on and on and on through much of the town. If this were DC, it would be like having a street festival that goes from Adams Morgan all the way down the White House. It’s just insane how big, and beautiful, this is.

feste-street

Here’s a quick video of one of the many bands playing on the street. I wanted to give you a sense of what the town looks like.

As I mentioned, the town of Ghent has a lot of Dutch influence, and it has a very Amsterdam-y feel to it, in part because of the canals, and in large part because of those amazing skinny buildings with the cool pointed rooftops.

river

broom-window

You can sometimes get the best shots from the bathroom.

Ghent has a sizable number of rather cool cathedrals. We went to see the Ghent Altarpiece yesterday, which I admittedly was previously unaware of. It’s pretty magnificent.

gent-cathed-tall

Just a cool top of a building facade.

gargo

The view of a canal from a restaurant during a rainstorm.

bw-river

There were people all over town selling these small, conical-shaped, purple candy thingies. I have no idea what they were.  UPDATE:  A friendly Ghentian has written in to say that these are called “noses.” And they’re apparently insanely sweet and then filled with something insanely sweetre.

purple

Now, one sweet I did try was a Belgian waffle. And let me just say, mother of God why did no one tell me about these things before? Imagine a big, warm, freshly made, gooey, thick whipped cream and dark drippy chocolate covered chocolate chip cookie. That’s what a Belgian waffle is.  It was funny, the woman handed me the thing, without any silverware, and I sort of looked around, confused, trying to figure out how exactly you were supposed to eat the beast.  I saw some mini-forks nearby, grabbed one, and figured I’d dig in.  It seems the waffle is made to fall apart along numerous fault lines, so it’s pretty easy to eat with the mini-fork. And oh my god, the name “waffle” doesn’t do this thing justice. “Fried chocolate chip cookie dough covered with something that puts the word ‘whipped cream’ to shame” starts to get you close. Next time you’re in Belgium, run, don’t walk, for one of these. (Then run a lot aftewards too.)

belgium-waffle

Some more stunning building facades. From what I’ve heard, this style is apparently very late 1600s (I think). At least the first pic is, the second might be older.

IMG_7574 IMG_7580

Lots of music, including the ever-popular lederhosen singing people.

Though these guys were my favorite. We were on our way out of town, to head back to Brussels, and we suddenly hear music approaching us.

Apparently, these marching bands are a big thing in Belgium. And, my host tells me, they’re apparently quite gay — as in, lots of gay men in the marching bands. (What queen doesn’t love a performance?) Oh, I found out who these guys are — they have a YouTube page with a ton of their videos. I picked out some of the funnier ones. And one of the guys in the band saw my post and messaged me on Facebook! (I’m still amazed by the small-worldness of the Internet sometimes.)

So this was fun. Apparently the kids, when they graduate (high school?) throw their shoes across the phone or power lines that hang over the street in one particular section of town. Which explains what happened to Luna’s shoes.

shoes-gent

So this disturbed me, as I’d hoped they were just a bad memory from my youth studying in Paris. The dreaded, but efficient, public urinals. You just stand up there in front of everyone and do it.

urin

This is just me being artistic with a self-portrait of sorts in a window of an art gallery:

ghent-window

Ghent had a number of funny signs and posters. Some unintentionally funny, like the “Nacht Winkel” signs, which meant “Night Shop” (or, shop open at night), and then there was this meatball restaurant:

blals

Or this sign letting you know not to pee on the street. I particularly like how, in a nod to equal opportunity, they included a drawing of a woman peeing.

pee

Then there’s this. I have no idea.

pic-nic-ad

I just can’t say enough about Ghent. I’m told Bruges is pretty amazing too. It’s funny, but if you’ve traveled a lot, things start to become less exciting, less impressive, the older you get. Probably, and sadly, because you’ve done “it” before, even if the city or country you’re visiting is a new “it.” You sometimes lose a bit of that “oh my god, I’m going to Europe!”-ness that you had as a kid traveling abroad for the first time. Ghent, for me, brought some of that childish wonderment, and sadness (because you don’t live there), back to me.

If you’re ever in the area, visit Brussels for a day, maybe. Then head to Ghent.

gent-pano


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown (1989); and worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, and as a stringer for the Economist. Frequent TV pundit: O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline & Reliable Sources. Bio, .

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  • Marc Moerman

    you forgot to see where my son is living – in the middle of Ghent there are still 2 beguinages – and he rents a studio in the most beautiful one – het klein begijnhof, dating from the 13th century http://kleinbegijnhof-gent.wix.com/home

  • wim

    Actually, the canals and their houses in Gent are older than those in Amsterdam. So that would make Amsterdam a bit Gent-y.

  • http://www.snowwhiteglamour.be Hanne

    It’s amazing to see that you too, have fallen in love with my town :) The love for Ghent is like the love for a husband or wife and I’m so happy that I’ve lived here all my life.

  • WVDC

    Ghent a dump??? It’s quite obvious you don’t know the city at all.
    Brugge might be beautiful, and it IS, but it’s not a city. After 6 pm when the tourist hordes are gone it’s an empty open air museum. Ghent has so much more to offer beside its indisputable beauty and grandness of the buildings. The eclectic mix of old and new in harmony with the open mentality of the people who live there makes this city a real gem. I lived in several Belgian towns, after all I ended up in Ghent and I’m so glad I did.

  • Volllllllllume 3

    This is because Belgians are too damn modest for their own good.

  • battled1

    Plus, Chocolate!! :)

  • Claudia

    People often think of Brussels as the proverbial typical Belgian city, but nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, Ghent (or Gent) is amazing, but so is Antwerp, Hasselt, Bruges, Leuven and many other smaller cities and towns. The same goes for the south with cities like Namur, Arlon and Liege, although I personally don’t know them as well. They all have local festivals and local delicacies that will blow your mind! As beautiful as the Grand Place in Brussels is, it is not a good representative city for the whole country.

    To try the Liege waffles at home, just get some pearl sugar to make the dough. The clumps of sugar carmelize while the waffle is cooking, resulting in the gooey goodness!

  • Els Verwilgen

    Waw, It’s just wonderful to read this article and have it resound with enthousiasm for this town so close to home that I love as well.
    There’s one thing I would like to point out tho, if you don’t mind. You say once or twice that Ghent is Amsterdam-y. I can understand that more people might know Amsterdam rather than Ghent so it’s logical to refer to something they know. However when you write Ghent has a lot of Dutch influence, it makes me cringe a little bit. Cause really it’s the other way around. Ghent’s golden era was way before Amsterdam became anything worth mentioning. And actually Amsterdam only grew into an important city after the fall of Antwerp, cause so many Flemish artists and intellectuals packed their bags and moved. So really Amsterdam has a lot of Flemish influence, rather than the other way around.
    Btw, great going on the waffles, but didn’t you try our beers, that’s really what Belgium is world class at. ;-)

  • Freek van Vugt

    Just to nitpick: Ghent is the third biggest city in Belgium. Obviously Brussels is also a lot bigger. Also, I think Ghent was the biggest city on the European continent (so not including the UK and therefore London) north of the Alps (so Rome was also excluded). A fellow “Ghentian”

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Wow! That video is how I felt visiting Ghent. Absolutely. Damn that’s good.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    I had no idea they were that varied, or I’d have tried some in Brussels too.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    That’s ridiculous, charging women and not men. Glad they protested.

  • wouter

    yup, there’s one in 2015; the last 2 editions were cancelled because of the huge costs to keep it free for all visitors. this is the site: http://www.lichtfestivalgent.be/nl/
    and thanks for visiting my city; I always wonder how it would feel like for foreigners to visit Ghent for the first time. so, very nice article you put down here! thanks!

  • Francis

    Indeed “West-Vlamingen”…it’s just plain rude and also completely incorrect what Stefaan Van den Abeele (now ‘guest’?) says in his post above. I myself was born in that part of the country, but I’m living in Ghent now for nearly 10 years. So I personally take offence to what Stefaan says, as if I am one of the arrogant one’s ruining the city? There is no such thing as a “coastal-colony”, that’s just plain racist and narrow-minded to me! I know more people from the region of Antwerp and Brussels who now live in Ghent than your so called “coastal people”.

    …I can only agree with John, Nina, Dries, Ruben, Els and all other Ghent-lovers, awesome city “I just can’t get enough” of it :).

  • Kurt Van Gastel

    I live very close to Ghent, Antwerp, Brussels, Mechelen, Brugge (and I can go on)…and we are so used to these medieval towns that we sometimes need a visitor to remind us how beautifull they are.
    Basel Zobieda a student from Aleppo (Syria) made this very nice timelapse about Ghent, you can watch it on youtube :http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qT_p8pZPwao

  • Steve Chan

    I remember Ghent was also my no.1 city in Belgium when I visited the country for the first time. But after spending more than two years here, I’ve started to get annoyed by the fact that Belgian architecture is very much like their weather – dark and grim in appearance, thus kinda depressing to look at… Not sure if it’s the style or it’s just grime that hasn’t been cleaned off for a long time.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Is that any different than the one I had?

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Where’s the chocolate? ;-) I’m thinking ice cream would work nicely on a warm waffle too.

  • Olaf Hermans
  • Olaf Hermans

    btw try and have one of these next time … they are even better !

  • Olaf Hermans

    we look forward to having you back in Ghent any time soon, John

  • Wendy (B)

    Thank you for this article about my hometown.
    You made me proud of it :)
    I was born here, raised and still live where it all started.
    I can’t imagine leaving here!
    It’d break my heart…

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Oh, Chicago is fabulous. BIg city, big heart, great food, great music, great architecture, nice people, and we even have a HUGE coastline and beaches (which people don’t really expect — lake michigan, our lake, is 100 miles x 300 miles. :) We’re very proud of our city too.

  • maike reutler

    Thank you for this really nice and great articel about my chosen hometown and very cool city!!

  • Jessica Constantinidis

    Hi John, I’m still living in Ghent and believe me I agree when you say that it’s a beautiful city. Especially the openness and kindness of the people, the overall “join in the festivities”-mentality and low level of crime. If you ever make it over again, try a few of our inside classics : http://www.dreupelkot.be , Ghent JAZZ festival ( usually 3 days before GENTSEFEESTEN) , O DE GAND (http://www.odegand.be/en) : great water festival, boats, fireworks, concerts and others. The GHENT LIGHT FESTIVAL is also a GREAT event onsite in the January timeframe: http://www.lichtfestivalgent.be : maybe the English YOUTUBE film might give you a better insight : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RG8M68yeMBI

    So whenever you feel on visiting Belgium/Netherlands or France or Germany, please keep in mind that GHENT is only max 2hrs driving away from Amsterdam – Paris – Rotterdam – Dusseldorf – Cologne or Luxembourg, so definitely worth a detour !!

    Keep yourself updated with http://www.fansofflanders.be website !

    Jess From GHENT

    And euh, the Pink triangle sweets are indeed SMALL GHENT NOSES or CUBERDONS in French.

  • Marit

    I will keep Chicago in mind next time when I will be in the US! ;) I was in St. Louis (Missouri) last year which was surprisingly charming with many art deco buildings. Nice to discover other cities which are less mainstream. :)

  • Nina Sarens

    I thought he meant “West-vlamingen” with “coastal colonies”….

  • Nina Sarens

    Yes, around Christmas. And this year it’s gonna be a bit different then previous years: http://www.gentsewinterfeesten.be/en/
    We also had the lightfestival (http://www.lichtfestivalgent.be/en/). Very beautiful, but the city skipped a year because it’s a very expensive festival for them. I’ve read that there will be a lightfestival in 2015 though!

  • Lindsay Ameye

    I’m going to go even further. There are TWO kind of Belgian waffles. What you had was the Liège waffle, which is chewy and caramelized. But there’s also the Brussels waffle, which imho is very light and crunchy but has little to no taste. The Brussels waffle demands toppings, while the Liège waffle is delicious even without the toppings. Just dig up some google images and you’ll see the difference. But… you’ll never believe it but it’s true: the Brussels waffle was invented in Ghent. In Brasserie Max (where you still can go eat the original Brussels waffle). Oh and yes, Americans seem to think they have Belgian waffles for breakfast, but from what I’ve seen and read, they are nothing like the waffles we know here :)

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Exactly. We can all point fingers. American history has its warts as well, and San Francisco, and the Grand Canyon, are no less beautiful as a result.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Yep, I didn’t visit Brugge, but Gent had a vibe about it, an energy, a fun spirit that I’ve only felt in a few cities I’ve visited. Belgium overall surprised me, even Brussels, in that people just seemed awfully nice. Much more laid back than Paris, which I know well and love.

  • Wim Valcke

    Bruges is a ‘postcard’ for those who don’t get any further than stereotypes. For years now, inhabitants of Bruges appear to be the proudest inhabitants of their city in Belgium. And there are reasons for that, reasons that do not include any postcards or whatsoever.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Ooh, there’s a winter festival? …. ;-)

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    I’m originally from Chicago, and we’re a city that gets “skipped” a lot too when foreigners visit the US. If a foreign friend ever visits Chicago, they then invariably say to me, “I can’t believe no one ever told me about Chicago before!” I feel the same way about Ghent.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    LOL I’d have NEVER known that that box was a woman’s toilet!

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    I’d imagine. I wish we had more time to visit, and to stay into the evening – we ended up leaving about 830pm, before it got dark.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    It’s now on my list! Honestly, Belgium was never really on my travel list at all. I had no idea it was so beautiful, or that the people were so nice (and seemingly fun).

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Thanks Mod :) Hard to imagine a post about belgian waffles could be controversial :)

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Oh that’s interesting about the waffle without the toppings. The thing is, I expected it to taste like an American waffle, which I don’t particularly love, so i wanted the toppings! I’ll have to try a portion plain, but i doubt I’d give up my chocolate and slag!

  • Lindsay Ameye

    Bruges IS gorgeous too, but it doesn’t have the vibrant life and beating heart that Ghent has. It’s definitely a must see, but it won’t elicit the same “I-want-to-live-here” reaction. I “lived” in Ghent during my college years and it’s an amazing place. You definitely need to come back. But next time, eat the waffle without the toppings, it’s the way us Belgians like it the best and you’ll be amazed. About the neuzekes (noses/cuberdons), they taste like diabetes but definitely worth a try once (I can only eat one or two per occasion, it’s THAT sweet).

  • Bart Depauw

    Nice to read such an enthousiastic eulogy about my hometown, especially coming from an american who has ‘seen it all’. And it’s true I guess, it’s easy to take things for granted if you live in a beautiful town. PS: the remark about the ‘coastal colony’ referring to the people from western flanders is ridiculous bullsh#t.

  • Moderator3

    Someone is flagging all the comments in this thread. I won’t guess at motivation, but let me explain what flagging accomplishes. A flagged comment is marked for Mr. Arovosis or the moderators to take a look. We then make the decision to approve or delete. We’re not going to delete them unless something is very wrong.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    LOL I just heard!

  • Els VO

    I was just about to respond to Stefaan Van den Abeele’s comment when I noticed that he’s suddenly become anonymous. Well, maybe he just had a bad day when he wrote this and changed his mind, or maybe he was surprised by people’s reactions, but if his personality is really as negative as his comment suggests then I say: good riddance.
    I was born in Ghent, studied here and have lived in various parts of the city, ranging from ‘affluent suburb’ to ‘challenged neighborhood’ and I can only agree with Nina and Francis. Our city isn’t perfect (which one ever is?) and there’s always room for improvement, but there are so many positive things: the breathtaking views, creative vibes, big and smaller festivals all year round, the mix of people from all over the world (yes, even the coastal people, whoever they are) …
    Well, I could go on for hours, but John has described pretty accurately why I’m so proud of my city – well done :-)

  • bart

    so you’ve made it to the online version of one the biggest Belgian news paper
    http://www.nieuwsblad.be/article/detail.aspx?articleid=dmf20140730_01197596

  • Nina Sarens

    Glad you’ve left Ghent. I think you’re just an arrogant person who can’t handle other colonies. Ghent is a really nice place and the last thing you should complain about in this town, is the people living here. Like every place, Ghent has it’s problems, but they’re not the people ;)
    Mister Aravosis, you should really visit Ghent during Winter Festival!

  • Kitty Stevens

    Just saying, only 2 towns really benifited from the colonies: Ostend and Brussels. Ghent, not so much. A lot of its richness came from the middle ages.

  • Sarah Braekman

    This is so funny. My boyfriend just came home and said: “What are you laughing about?” I said: “Americans discussing what cuberdons are.”
    I’ve lived in Ghent for over 11 years now and it’s one of my biggest loves. (I’m not coastal, whatever that means)
    Ghent is beautiful, environmentally friendly, social, ‘volks’ (I don’t know how to translate that, it just means the people are funny, social and funloving), …
    People talk to eachother, people help eachother, people do stuff to improve the city even more…
    You’ll never get a bad meal at any of the restaurants. tourist traps don’t exist (whenever someone asks me where they should eat, I say: just pick…)
    The city buzzes with excitement, new inventions, designs, research, …
    I’ve often had the same feeling the author talks about. I go to the top of the Gravensteen (which is free if you live here), look over the city and cry a little. I’m so grateful to be able to live here.
    Oh, and there’s a 10 day free festival!

  • Francis

    I’m surprised Ivan IV (‘the terrible) and Lenin aren’t right up there in that top 5, and Hitler only on 3??? I’m not denying the cruel things during the colonisation of Congo, that was the responsibility of Leopold II as between 1879 and 1908 (as Naja Pallida already said) Congo was his own ‘private’ colony, in 1908 the Belgian government took over control after all the cruelties imposed by the king, were revealed. The Belgian government took much better care of Congo then Leopold, the society improved but the Belgians (back then) kept a patronizing and condescending behaviour towards the Congolese.

    …so far the history lesson…back to Ghent, truly an awesome city :)!

  • Elvisfofana

    how many native American Indians were killed by the “new” Americans ? How many black people were exploited by those same Americans ? How many died in hiroshima/nagasaki ?

  • Marit

    Thanks for sharing! Finally someone who did not skip Ghent. I was born in Antwerp, I have traveled a lot, and I’ve always recommended people to visit Ghent!

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Bingo. And every country and I’d wager every people has a rich history of raping and pillaging its neighbors at some point. That doesn’t mean some horrible things didn’t occur. But it does mean that I’d wager Belgium is on a very long list of countries, and peoples, that have done bad things — a list that pretty much includes everyone ever born all the way back to Adam and Even.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Nice. Well I may need to go back at some point. I’m so glad I got to see the festival, but am bummed I’m missing the flower festival in Brussels in 2 weeks :(

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    I was tempted, but was sure it was a gooey sugar thing, and had just eaten a waffle with chocolate and cream (which was beyond amazing), so I abstained :)

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    You know, while I saw those funny portable structures for guys to pee in, I didn’t see a lot of bathrooms for women – nothing in fact.

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Deal :)

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Next time I will!

  • http://www.itours.be iTours.be

    Next time you visit Ghent, join one of our tours and we’ll explain everything you want to know about Ghent ;)

  • Dries

    Zeveraar

  • http://www.heyheyapps.com Pieter

    The drawing of the woman peeing isn’t just a nod to equal opportunity, woman peeing in public is a real problem during the festivities (google translated new article:
    https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=nl&tl=en&js=y&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.nieuwsblad.be%2Farticle%2Fdetail.aspx%3Farticleid%3Ddmf20140727_01193269&edit-text= )

  • http://rubenverhack.be/ Ruben Verhack

    Well, I completely disagree to be honest. Although I am one of those “coastal people” that you despise.

  • Jafafa Hots

    I’m willing to move if someone is willing to fund it.

    Sadly, I’ve discovered that no countries seem to be eager to let disabled people immigrate. Something about not being able to contribute, etc.

    Otherwise I’d get the hell out of the US.

    I’m tired of this place.

  • Sven De Schutter

    Bruges is a postcard for tourists, Ghent a real city :-)

  • emjayay

    Hey, it doesn’t mean the country isn’t adorable.

  • emjayay

    Enough already. I’m going.

  • emjayay

    John, being a visitor includes sampling the unique local delicacies, no matter how odd. It’s part of the experience. That little bit of sugar won’t hurt you as part of a wholesome balanced diet. There must be something good about it.

  • Vebe

    We go back once a year – let me know when your next visit is and if we happen to be there, I will be glad to show you around.

  • Stefaan Van den Abbeele

    Clearly you’ve never lived there for a longer period of time :/ Ghent has changed from a really nice big village to an arrogant colony of coastal people over the past 10 years. It’s got some nice picture options, I do admit, but apart from that, there’s nothing there but reasons to flee the city as fast as you can. Trust me, I did!

  • annatopia

    John, next time you go to Europe can you just pack me in your suitcase and take me with you?? :)

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    I’m jealous that you’re from there, Vebe. What an amazing city. And yes, from what I’ve read about those sweets, I’m glad I didn’t buy one!

  • http://AMERICAblog.com/ John Aravosis

    Compared to heaven, maybe.

  • nicho

    When the Belgians finally gave up the Congo, there were only four Congolese with a college education. No natives had been allowed to rise above the rank of sergeant in the military. IOW the place was in shambles. Their first prime minister was a former beer salesman. He wanted the country to be truly independent of first-world pillaging and looting. So he was assassinated with the complicity of the British and US governments. And if Leopold had killed only two million more people, he would be in third place instead of Hitler.

  • Vebe

    John, it is great to read this nice review about my city – missing it every day. Europe has a lot of nice cities, each with its own charm. Gent isn’t overwhelmed by tourists and has lots to offer. By the way, those sweets you didn’t know what they were are what we call “neuzekes” (or little noses). The outside is slightly chewy and the inside is a kind of syrupy.
    Not sure why Ken H thought Gent is a dump.

  • emjayay

    Good point. Better hurry there now.

  • OLPH

    They’re called “cuberdon.” Imagine the sweetest piece of candy you’ve ever eaten and multiply by ten. Outside is a semi-soft shell, about the consistency of a stale candy corn. Inside is jelly. There is a fruit flavor and a licorice flavor.

    The first bite is great. The second is almost as great. Then, one starts to wonder why one has purchased an entire bag.

  • Indigo

    It’s a wonderful movie. I’d give it 5 stars, and here they are * * * * *

  • Indigo

    I’ve heard that about Ghent before. It’s good to know you think so too. Somehow, I’ve never made a trip to Belgium. You inspire me.

  • http://heimaey.us/ heimaey

    Such a good movie, but Bruges is not Ghent…too bad this will all be under water in 100 years.

  • http://www.americablog.com/ Naja pallida

    Congo wasn’t even technically a ‘colony’ until 1908. Leopold II ran it as his own personal commercial slavery enterprise, under various humanitarian guises, for over 20 years before that. Very little of that profit ever went to the country of Belgium, and instead went directly into his own pockets and those of his cronies and business associates. It was only when the British flooded the rubber market with their own colonial oppression, bottoming out the price, that he was no longer able to afford to buy off enough of the right people to maintain the facade. Many countries, including the US, turned a blind eye to what was going on in the Congo, for a long, long time. It took celebrity activists, like Mark Twain and Arthur Conan Doyle, to bring public awareness enough for anyone to do anything about it. Belgium finally gave in to international pressure and annexed the Congo, but it can be scarcely said that they went on to improve much. While they invested huge amounts of money, slavery was still the norm for years.

  • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

    It’s also the setting of Erich Korngold’s opera Die tote Stadt. (Based on the novel Bruges, la mort.)

  • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

    I went to Bruges but not Ghent. I love cities with canals. One of my friends did he foreign exchange year in Ghent and still talks about it often. Also, I found the food in Belgium to be the best I had in Europe. I’m not sure how they do it but everything, even the most basic items, just taste better there.

  • caphillprof

    Apparently you missed the movie, In Bruges

  • emjayay

    There’s one simple way to find out what those small, conical-shaped, purple candy thingies are. Please investigate.

  • emjayay

    Bruges is apparently at least as good. Don’t know if they have some similar festival to add to the fun. And the film “In Bruges which is half a crime film and half hilarious buddy comedy about, well, being in Bruges with Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson plus Ralph Fiennes is really great. The dvd includes background of the writing of the film and a travelogue of Bruges. Get it from your local public library.

  • nicho

    It’s amazing what a pretty little country you can build if you’re a murderous dictator that pillages the resources of your colony and keep its inhabitants in virtual slavery. Most murderous dictators in modern history (in order of people slaughtered): 1. Mao, 2. Stalin, 3. Hitler, 4. Leopold II. And Hitler barely nudged Leopold out of Third Place. Number 5 is Tojo, and he doesn’t even come close.

  • http://heimaey.us/ heimaey

    Gorgeous.

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