GHENT

April 18, 2020

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It’s looking to be quite some time before non-essential travel, particularly of the international kind, returns to anyone’s repertoire. For the sake of sanity, let’s trade the dread of packing for daydreams of the places we want to visit when borders reopen + passport stamps are reinstated as a desirable collectible. When planning our recent #tglfortiethfête, we knew a European adventure was in order to commemorate a new decade of circling the sun. Paris (because a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ gets us every time) was waiting in the wings, but a keen inclination to complement an extended stay in the City of Light with a special sojourn to a new destination was an underlying impetus to push our planning one step farther.

1898 The Post was the deciding factor (no arm-twisting required) to add the quaint Flemish city of Ghent to our itinerary. Add the ‘note’-able detail the hotel is housed in the city’s early 20th c. Post Office and you had us at snail mail. The smallest of three prominent Belgian cities, Ghent’s cobblestone streets, mixed with a rich textile history as a mercantile landmark for the middle-age wool and linen industries, made it the perfect destination to toast to ’40’. Aside from the aforementioned lodging, we made no plans for where to wander or what to eat, quite uncustomary from our standard #theoriginalgildedgetaway approach. Instead, we spent two days embracing good ‘ole-fashioned wanderlust spirit – no Google maps, zero pre-planned pins, just a mind wide open to the charm of each discovered walkway and wurst our path crossed.

To our sheer delight, Ghent is home to two unexpected gems on the subject of design and craftsmanship. If you’re a fan of letterpress or textiles (or better yet both, in which case we definitely need to meet), the Museum of Industry is a mecca for all things print + fibre-related. From paper printing to silk spinning, typesetting to weaving, it is not to be missed. A creative-in-spirit looking to test your hand at something tactile? Explore the museum’s series of workshops, perhaps even time your visit to participate since this is one souvenir you can’t bring back stateside.

For anyone who’s engaged in an Art History syllabus, you’ve likely been taught Flemish lineage has birthed some of the world’s most renowned artists, (van Eyck, Bruegel or Rubens ring a bell?). Hence, it’s no surprise Belgians appreciate, let alone laud, superior design and its founding principles that have transcended centuries of an evolving European culture. Spend a sunny afternoon wandering Design Museum Gent, with works housed in seamless synergy between an 18th c. mansion and a modern wing, not to mention Belgium’s only museum with an international design collection.

If you’re local (or a tired tourist looking to rest your toes), the museum’s serene inner courtyard is open to the public, perfect for quiet lunch dates or chocolate breaks, let’s be real, it IS Belgium after all. We highly recommend picking up a sweet treat from nearby chocolaterie Cédric Van Hoorebeke, who’s adorable corner shoppe includes ‘Chocolates, Business Gifts + Other Sweet Perfection’. When blowing out our candles over a cocktail at The Cobbler, we secretly made a wish that in our new decade, someone mighty would grant us the good graces to be the appointed purveyor of such an idyllic list. In times like these, who doesn’t need, or welcome, or long for chocolates, business gifts and other sweet perfections.

Until our suitcases come out of storage, be well fellow travelers, we’re all in this together.

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