Saturday, September 3, 2011

Gent re-visited

Visiting with our friends Harry and Goedroen in Gent, Belgium is starting to become an annual ritual. We took a three hour intercity train from Amsterdam and took note of the flat landscape in Holland. If the stars align next summer then we're on for a bike tour of the Flanders region. Just in case you need a soundtrack suggestion for a Gent bound train, try the most recent Three Mile Pilot album The Inevitable Past is the Future Forgotten.    

Harry and Goedroen live in a lovely flat in Kouter Square with the million dollar view of De Viaamse Opera house and the Sunday morning flower market. 
Towards the center of town. 

We met Eddy last year when we stopped by his bar and I was wearing a Void shirt (early 80's Washington DC hardcore band-the group's logo is right side up and upside down cross). We had both an interesting and profound conversation about the meaning behind the logo. It was nice when he asked about the shirt.  

Els aka 100% got wind that we were coming for a visit and prepared another out of this world meal for the occasion.  The title 100% comes from her approach to food, she earned the nickname for how she uses natural ingredients mainly from her garden. She has opened our eyes to a whole new world of gastronomy. 

Els is not only an expert in the kitchen, she also makes rugs and furniture. But that's not all, in her spare time she owns and operates Champagne and Cava bar on the edge of the city's center. No slowing down Els! 

Dinner's salad-straight from the garden into the tummy. 

Harry contemplating if he should join the dinner guests in the hot tub. 

The bunny's head. We may have eaten the rabbit (maybe from the garden as well), but one of their friends took delight in pulling the tongue from the mouth and eating it. 

Even the ice cream and mint leaves were 100%!

Last year we posted several pictures of the Medieval Gent. This time I will attempt to mix it up. I remember living in a gated community in Atlanta with strict housing codes to prevent people from doing this to their homes. There is a lot to be said for uniformity and those who wish to challenge one's aesthetics. 

Back in San Diego I'd take a daily stroll around the South Park neighborhood often passing a house doubling as a shrine. The porch and lawn were packed with knick-kacks and lawn ornaments. For some of the neighbors this might fall under the definition of an eyesore, for others it is how one resident wishes to express herself. One weekend morning I recalled a hand written sign posted outside the house desperately begging for the return of the ceramic turtles. A few days later another sign appeared with a tirade condemning the person(s) who lifted the four-legged creature. This is the price of non-conformity. Here in open view, two pocket sized dog sculptures. One could easily walk off with the pieces or simply arrange them to sniff each others behinds as dogs are prone to do.        

You can't stop a man who's in love with a monster bunny.

Not going far today.

Have extra space beneath the step to your front door? Try a plastic toy mushroom and animal diorama. 

The Gent library has free internet and cool posters and...

...a map to public toilets. 

Art along the canal. 

Contour drawing 101.

You know you want to live in Gent!

How could you not love these buildings?
Your new home. 

Best bakery in Gent. 
Any beer sporting a witch is drinkable in my book. We had a nice lunch at a quiche shop near Haus Aljin (The House of Alijn)-The museum of things that (n)ever pass. We bought the exhibition catalog to the show Tomorrow we're expecting the school photographer; the exhibit celebrates the long tradition of picture day and its' rapidly fading future. There is an argument that as ordinary as school pictures are they serve to chronologically capture one's natural development, celebrate moments, and are "tangible memories of school." This show was a nice follow-up to the exhibit Notities bij het kijken we saw last year; a series of home films spliced together celebrating infancy to old age done in the vein to the ending of Giuseppe Tornatore's Cinema Paradiso or Tarsem Singh's The Fall, both are truly touching and sentimental. Ana and I have visited museums and galleries from around the planet, and Haus Aljin ranks up there with the best of them. A must see when in Gent. Below Images from the exhibit. 


The quiche.

What better way to attract patrons to your eatery.

We skipped the Middle Age Gravensteen Castle this round, but always worth mentioning. 

More art along the canal. 

Stencil near the shopping district. 

Minutes before a downpour. 

Who knows Belgium Dutch? Translation please.


Understanding Left and Right.

Mural outside a cafe.

More of the same. When all was said and done on our way back to the Gent-Sint-Pieters rail station we reflected what a special place Gent is and appreciate the time Harry, Goedroen, and Els have spent with us during the past couple of years opening our eyes up to new experiences and introducing us to their fine friends. We look forward to our evolving friendship.    

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