Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Belgian ‘Nationale Feestdag’ in Ghent

Trivia: Did you know that Belgium was once part of the Netherlands?

Blondine and I in Ghent last weekend (21 July).

In 1830 Belgium broke away from the Netherlands but it was only a year later that Belgium’s National Congress adopted a new constitution and on 21 July 1831 Leopold I of Saxe-Coburg swore allegiance to the new constitution. He became the first king of Belgium.

Thus 21 July is Belgium’s ‘Nationale Feestdag’ (National Holiday) and coincidentally Blondine and I were there. I’ve been to Ghent before so I know what to anticipate except that we didn’t expect the multitudes and the noise.

It was about 16:00 when the provisional bar and cafe stands and floating entertainment platforms on the Graslei (canal) were opened. Crowds kept flowing in and the noise became unbearable. Sorry if I am sounding like a grandma but I cannot handle a rowdy crowd. If I go to a street party I need to have static location where I can sit and watch everything happening before me and not the other way around. Anyway, it was really busy and congested. Some of the tram stops were even converted into café terraces. But we were glad to have enjoyed the city before the street party started.

Belgium’s ‘National Holiday’ is pretty much like the ‘Queens Day’ in the Netherlands but without orange-clad people in hilarious out-of-this-world outfits and the gar(b)age sale on the streets.

Check out a few pictures here of the crowds:

Tram stop converted into a cafe terrace.

When we left there was no available space on sight along the Graslei.

Watch this space for more Ghent stories and pictures in the coming weeks (culinaire, boat trip, architecture and more), as well as my previous travels to Copenhagen, Denmark (April – just a few more posts), Cuba (May), Lesvos, Greece (June-July) and a few local-Netherlands stuff in between.

And oh, I’ve booked a long weekend trip to Paris next month with Bru!

Travel Period: July 2012
Destination: Ghent (East Flanders), Belgium

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