Friday, 15 May 2015

Mussels and Waffles and Laughter in Ghent

I am truly getting older.  My equally-single friends and I are now talking about mid-life crises, about (not) coming to terms with living alone, about past loves, hopes and frustrations.  The Polish friend and co-engineer, older by close to five years and prone to drama, sighs why the Lord has not blessed her, and enumerates her ¨misfortunes¨. By that she refers to her still being single, a few months shy of forty.  She then points to her perfectly okay figure and complains of weight gain, and points to her clear face and her little laughlines in despair.  We tell her, come on, B! You are so blessed! You´re still pretty and you have a good job, yes? And then of course, she talks about the enemies she´s made at the work site.  I think she really wants to anchor her life now with something, she wants to get rooted to a life and stop the traveling.   She is ready to buy a house, but she doesn´t know where. She just wants to not be alone anymore.

Ah, the travails of being a thirty-something woman,  living  on her own in a foreign land.  I, for one don´t share her desperation yet. I still don´t feel old.   And, having come from a long talk  not too long ago with two Christian elders who fundamentally counselled me about my life direction, I am not worried at all about my life path.  But, B surely needed some cheering up so yesterday,  we went on a road trip to Ghent for a day of waffles and mussels and laughter.

Ghent is a city in the Flemish region of  Belgium, about  a two-hour drive away from my place in Rotterdam.  M, my college best friend and also former workmate of B, was our designated driver.

                                         Ghent is full of canals and ornate buildings

   A shop along the canal.  See the windows under ground zero.

    Locals were kayaking along the canals

                      One of Ghent´s many churches

 The most picturesque and atmospheric parts of Ghent are along the canals

After walking through Gent, we decided we needed a waffle break.  Because, of course, when in Belgium, one has to have some proper waffles!

    The pretty biscuit that came with my sencha tea

   A true-blue Belgian waffle with chocolate syrup, cream and vanilla ice cream.  The waffle was light, crisp and slightly salty, which bode well to the sweetness of the chocolate and ice cream.  Really good, but I personally still prefer Liege waffles (another variation of waffles from Liege, Belgium) than these batter-based ones.
 The count´s castle
    There were a lot of chocolate shops in Ghent, but we were not interested to try.

    For lunch, we had mussels in white wine sauce which was supposed to be Ghent´s specialty.  The white wine sauce was good but the mussels weren´t that fresh so it was just an okay dish.
   B, M and I doing some much-needed catch up.  See, seven years since the three of us worked together in the UK, we found each other working in the same country, with B&I working in the same company!  Talk about the world being small!
    A stall of Cuberdon, a traditional sweet in Ghent
The cuberdons are triangular candies filled with fruit jam.  We bought a few to try and oh boy, was it really sweet!

                      The Cathedral
    A view of the beautiful Ghent buildings

Ghent was a small but lovely town, close enough for a day trip from Holland,  small enough to be easily navigable by foot ( we parked in a garage, then just walked around) and its canals and the castle offer picturesque vistas.  It isn´t earth-shatteringly beautiful but the place is quietly pretty.  A fitting backdrop to the three of us catching up with news and stories from the past seven years.  I personally  like this kind of outings, totally laidback, with good honest food and equally great and honest friends.

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