Route : Dover- Dunkirk- De Pinte – Brussels – Spa
Kms : 490 kms (lowest kms driven in a week!)
Summary of event :
a) Meeting Anne again at De Pinte
b) Ghent town
c) VW event in Spa
d) Meeting Garry/Ian/Heddy and family in Holland
31st July Dunkirk – Depinte (100kms). We arrived at De Pinte at 8am and we were staying with Terence’s sister’ MIL, Anne. She had coffee and breakfast ready for us. After chatting, we all went to bed. I slept for 1 hour and then followed her to get grocery. She took me of a stroll around the local village and showed me the running tracks, church and also castle. We then went to a strawberry farm to get the fresh. It was like a green house farm and you buy the strawberries from a vending machine! How cool! We then went to a supermarket chain in Belgium called “Okay!”. They have a good system at check out where they scan the items in the trolley itself and then transfer it to an empty trolley. You do not need to place your items on the conveyor belt (not sure if this is the right term). There was also a bread slicing machine where you can cut the loaf for free.. She is a good cook and we had salmon, mussels, fries and of course Belgian beer for dinner.
1st August Depinte/Ghent Anne helped me to write up on the places we visited and also the town of De Pinte as well. She drove us around and we took the tram to Ghent (“In the 1990s the tram system started to pick up again and heading for 2025 significant expansion is planned.We took number 1 from Flanders Expo to the historical city centre”) as you cannot drive in the town ; its all cobbled and just walk paths. The town reminded me a little of Venice. You could spent a full day here feasting your eyes with all the architecture wonders and its not short of food too! We saw a Nepalise restaurant here too!
A suburb of Ghent, located between the rivers Leie and Scheldt with approx. 10,500 inhabitants. The name of the municipality is issued from an inn, which was called “Het Pijntken”. Probably the last inn on the road to Ghent coming either from Oudenaarde or from Kortrijk. It became independent from Nazareth in 1868. It has a train station (tracks built already in 1839 linking Ghent and in 1867 linking Oudenaarde) and some 100 trains stop daily. That’s why De Pinte is also called a dormitory city, with so many people shuttling every day, mainly between De Pinte and Brussels. In the centre is the St-Nicolas of Tolentijn church. Castles: “Viteux” also in the centre, now a restaurant, “Scheldevelde” now a nursing home and Grand Noble owned by the family of Baron de Giey. Recreationally around De Pinte, is Parkbos (park-wood), an area with young trees where it is agreeable to go for jogging or walking. Up till a few years ago, De Pinte was an horticultural producer mainly of begonia flowers.
University of Ghent
We had a quick look at the entrance of the Aula of the University: eight Corinthian pillars crowned with a triangular pediment. The auditorium hosts graduation ceremonies during which degrees and honorary doctorates are presented. On Sunday 8 October 2017, Ghent University will celebrate its 200th anniversary during a free, vibrant city festival for young and old. Ghent University consistently rates among the top universities not only in Belgium but also throughout the world.
Anne was kind enough to send me write ups on a little bit more on the important buildings and places that we visited in Ghent :-
St Nicholas Church is one of the oldest and most prominent landmarks in Ghent. Begun in the early 13th century as a replacement for an earlier Romanesque church, construction continued through the rest of the century in the local Scheldt Gothic style (named after the nearby river). One of the treasures of the church is its organ, produced by the famous French organ builder Aristide Cavaillé-Coll.
Belfry and Cloth Hall The 91-metre-tall belfry of Ghent is one of three medieval towers that overlook the old city centre of Ghent, Belgium, the other two belonging to Saint Bavo Cathedral and Saint Nicholas’ Church. Its height makes it the tallest belfry in Belgium. The belfry of Ghent, together with its attached buildings, belongs to the set of belfries of Belgium and France inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. The bell is also the primary character in the city’s anthem, in which the bell warns of fire or calls upon the citizens of Ghent to defend the land. The rectangular hall adjoining the belfry was built to headquarter the affairs of the cloth trade that made the city rich during the Middle Ages. Inside, woollens were officially inspected and measured; transactions were negotiated. As the cloth industry lost importance, the hall drew new occupants, including a militia guild and a fencing school.
St Bavo Cathedral The Saint Bavo Cathedral is an 89-meter-tall Gothic cathedral in Ghent, Belgium. It is the seat of the diocese of Ghent. It is named for Saint Bavo of Ghent.The cathedral is noted for the Ghent Altarpiece, originally in its Joost Vijd chapel. It is formally known as: The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb by Hubert and Jan van Eyck. This work is considered Van Eyck’s masterpiece and one of the most important works of the early Northern Renaissance, as well as one of the greatest artistic masterpieces of Belgium.
Town Hall Ghent’s town hall is a building with many faces. The flamboyant Gothic style of the façade in Hoogpoort contrasts sharply with the rather sober Renaissance style of the Botermarkt side. Inside, though we didn’t get there (!) you can also see many different styles: the Arsenal Hall with its wooden vaulting, the marvellous Wedding Chapel with the counts of Flanders immortalised in stained glass windows, the Pacification Hall with its white and black paved labyrinth, a symbol of the quest for justice and happiness, and many more.
Bridge – Sint-Michielshelling From here one can admire the touristic and medieval skyline of Ghent: the towers of St. Nicholas’ church, the Belfry and the tower of St Bavo’s Cathedral. The stone bridge links the Korenlei and the Graslei on both sides of the river de Leie. Looking north one notices the shores of the old harbour and further away the Count’s Castle. And south-west, the St. Michael’s Church and the Dominican cloister.
St Michael’s Church is a Roman Catholic church, built in a late Gothic style. It has rich interior decoration.
Castle of the Counts The present castle was built in 1180 by count Philip of Alsace and was modelled after the crusaders castles that Philip of Alsace encountered while he participated in the second crusade. Before its construction, there stood a wooden castle on the same location, presumably built in the ninth century. The castle served as the seat of the Counts of Flanders until they abandoned it in the 14th century. In 1885 the city of Ghent bought the castle and started a renovation project. The newly built houses were removed and the walls were restored to their original condition. The castle has been repaired enough to allow people to travel through it and climb on top. Inside is a museum with various torture devices (and a guillotine) that were historically used in Ghent….
Patershol We took a walk through the charming and picturesque streets of the Patershol. It is like travelling back in time. Its street plan has remained intact since the Middle Ages and offers historical discoveries around every corner: the Caermersklooster (Caermers Monastery), the white House of Alijn (a remnant of the charity works of Ghent’s nobility) and the Gravensteen castle that looks out over Patershol. Very nice cafes and restaurants. Bruno’s (Anne’s son/Terence’s BIL) favourite is the Amadeus : famous for its ribs!
Friday market is a city square named after the weekly tradition to stage a market every Friday morning, a tradition dating back to 1199. As one of the oldest squares in Ghent, it played an important role in the city’s history. The place is surrounded with guildhalls, which currently house bars, restaurants and terraces. It was the place where people met for festivities but also for meetings. The Counts of Flanders held here their Joyous Entries and swore to respect the privileges of the city (oath they soon forgot!).The centerpiece of the plaza is the statue of Jacob van Artevelde, Ghent’s wise man who sided with England during the Hundred Years’ War and was murdered on the site in 1345.
We came home at 7pm and Terence wanted to cook us for the first time a chicken curry. We only ate at 9.30pm. Chicken curry was not bad..
2nd August Depinte – Brussels (120kms) We had lunch with Anne’s son Yves’s family who came over. We had a typically Flanders dish; it was chicken and mushroom with white sauce and scooped into mini puff pastry pie base/top. It was delicious of course. Udhaya baked a yoghurt berry cake for dessert. After saying goodbyes, we headed to Brussels to meet our friend Vimala and her kids. We arrived at 5.30pm and Udhaya headed straight to the kitchen to cook chicken and fish curry. Again, we Malaysians are all about food. It was good to catch up with Vimala who works in Brussels. We were telling our story to her 2 teenage kids and they were just amazed with the cars that we are travelling with as they are not really that comfortable and not fast.
3rd August Brussels – Spa (150kms) We left Vimala’s place after lunch and was heading to the event Spa. Well, I also found out that this is where Formula 1 event is held and we will be “racing” on the tracks. I am excited as we will be reunited with Fernando (Sabinh is not attending due to family matters) , Dokke and Paola! The event is on the weekend but we were invited by the organisers (John Marie and Paul) for the staff dinner today. Dinner was good and there was 3 chefs cooking various pastas on the go! They have been organising this event since the beginning and this year marks their 25th anniversary. Its been around longer than the other events that we have attended! It was all in French but they did talk about our journey as I heard the word “Malaysia”. Everyone who cannot remember our names, calls us by “you are the Malaysians”. We are really proud to put Malaysia out there as everyone knows Thailand and Singapore but Malaysia is sometimes missed! Fabian, Cliften’s cousin from the UK also joined us for this event and its his first VW event; I don’t think he owns a VW.
4th -5th August Spa Photos below will do it justice! Driving on the F1 circuit was definitely an experience of a lifetime! I haven’t even been to a F1 racing event…
6th August Spa – Geleen (Holland) (120kms) We left Spa at 6pm and headed to Geleen in Limburg, Holland to meet our friend Garry, our childhood friend and his family.