Tuesday, 9 March 2010


Finally, I got to look around Ghent. At least, I almost did.

For some reason, temperatures in Brussels have once again plummeted. After finishing work I went to meet up with a friend. Ghent is known for being pretty and cool and for having canals. We tried to walk along the canal towards the main square. Icy winds whipped our coats open and our hair around our faces.

- Let's go for coffee. Somewhere indoors.

We found a great café, somewhere that used to be a Socialist Cultural Centre, and stayed there for two hours. Then my friend had to go. I tried hard to visit the centre of Ghent, I really did, but I was dressed to sit in front of a microphone and not to battle with the elements.

The final sign that it was destined not to be came on the threshold of the cathedral. Resolving to do Something Cultural before escaping with relief on the next tram to the station, I decided to go in and have a look around. There were two or three shallow steps up to the main doors. A wedge of rather splintery plywood formed a makeshift disabled access ramp. To one side sat a stout Roma lady with a begging bowl.

You can see where this is going, can't you?

As I approached the door and started up the steps, the Roma lady called out to me. I turned to look at her and at the same time quickened my step...
...causing me to lose my balance and trip on the disabled access ramp. I sprawled forward, one shoe flying off and one knee smashing down hard onto the stone step.
The Roma lady began to chatter urgently. I snatched back my lost shoe and lurched hastily and dramatically into the cathedral, giving what must have been a pretty fair impression of the hunchback of Notre Dame.

I hate to say it but I'm a coward with injuries, especially my own, and once inside my head began to spin and colours flashed in front of my eyes. Relinquishing my last shreds of dignity, I sank onto the floor with my head between my knees, looking for all the world like a four o'clock homeless drunk.
The church floor was cool and smooth and the air dry and clean. The spinning began to subside... and then along came the Sacristan and shooed out me and the other tourists and vagrants so he could close the church.

I gave up and headed for the nearest tram stop.

I promise to go back and take pretty photos of Ghent, some other time. Preferably once Belgium stops behaving like the Siberian steppes and the sun comes out again.


Fisz i Czips said...

that sounded like it was leading up to some sort of epiphany, leading to you joining some religious order...
until you got kicked out of the church that is

pinolona said...

I thought it was going ok until I tripped over the ramp. Honestly, these things are supposed to help people, not disable them further...