After arriving at the seaport, Zeebrugge, Belgium, we boarded a bus for an hour trip to Ghent, a settlement present at the confluence of the Schelde and Leie Rivers since the Middle Ages. In 1300, Ghent had 50,000 people and was one of the richest cities in northern Europe. The first photo shows the old guild halls along the left of the canal and St. Michael’s Bridge in the distance. Along with the two rivers, the city has an old system of canals that have been designated a UNESCO world heritage site. Most of our time in Ghent was spent seeing the sites along these canals, one of which was the Benedictine monastery, shown in the second photo. Here were the beginnings of the Inquisition. The austere building and the grey sky seem fitting.
Though it was a cloudy day, we had no rain until after lunch. In the afternoon, our open canal boat took us to our buses in rain. The umbrellas they provided made a colorful canopy over the boat but failed to keep us dry; our heads and shoulders were dry, but each of our umbrellas dumped water onto the lap of the passenger seated beside us.
One of the things I love about Europeans is their love of flowers. Flower boxes decorate the balconies. Flower shops are present on every corner and you see people buying bouquets to take home. Every cafe has fresh flowers on the table. The flowers on the ship are stunning. The last photo shows a close up of pansies in boxes along the canal in Ghent. Raindrops on colorful pansy leaves made that wet lap worth it.