Ghent, Gent, or Gand?

How do you spell a name of the capital and the largest city in East Flanders, Belgium - Ghent, Gent, or Gand? The right answer - all of the...

How do you spell a name of the capital and the largest city in East Flanders, Belgium - Ghent, Gent, or Gand? The right answer - all of them, depending on the language you're speaking. Ghent is a common English spelling, Gent - a Dutch and a German one, and Gand is a French one. But because the majority of people in Ghent speak Flemish (Belgian Dutch), we'll stick with Gent, a Dutch spelling.

Belgium is a small country and all its 9 provinces lie within a short train ride from Brussels. Now, I have just realized that I often use the word "small" when it comes to Europe as everything to me is small comparing to vast expanses of North America. 
For instance, compare the 9 provinces in Belgium with 10 provinces in Canada that are spanned across five time zones, and you'll do the math. And like everywhere in Western Europe, you don't really need a car in Belgium to travel around since public transit is amazingly convenient.
After spending the whole day in Lithuania strolling across Vilnius and Trakai, I took a flight to Charleroi airport in Belgium and caught a bus to Brussels Midi where I'd booked a hostel nearby. I was so tired when I got to the bed, so I slept like a baby till almost 8 am. I got an extra hour because of a new time zone. After having a really cool breakfast at my hostel, I headed straight to the train station. That day I had time in Belgium until about 7 pm, so I decided to maximize it (as usual) and see two different cities - Gent and Brussels. Why Gent and not Brugge, a must-do in Belgium? A few reasons: Gent has a huge medieval castle, it attracts way fewer tourists than Brugge yet its canalside architecture is no less beautiful, and it's only a 30-minute train ride from Brussels.
On the train station in Brussels, I accidentally met a fellow-traveller from South Korea who was travelling across Europe in search of the best beer. He quit a well-paid job back home, went to Germany where he finished a certified brewmaster course, and was about to open his own brewery in South Korea. Although his main goal was to find some fine craft breweries in Gent, we stayed together for a couple of hours, because he also wanted to see a little bit of the city and take some pictures. 
Gent met us with a drizzling rain, but after about a half hour, the sun finally came out to ensure I kept good memories of this city. 
What struck me in Gent right away was a lack of cars and other motorized vehicles. It turned out that Gent has the largest car-free area in Belgium. I realized that locals really love taking bicycles. Take a look at the picture below. I've never seen such a huge parking lot full of bicycles. 
There is a streetcar (pardon, a tram) that can take you from the main train station to the city centre, but we chose to walk as walking is the most effective way to get to know a new place. Especially, if it's a nice 1/2 h walk along a canal or an old street.
Gent's city centre has kept much of its cultural heritage from the medieval and later times.
St. Nicolas' Church (Sint-Niklaaskerk) - one of the oldest and best preserved gothic churches in Gent. 
One of the church's halls seems to be occupied with vendors and artisans selling art and antiques. 
Gorgeous interior of the St. Nicolas' Church.
Another well preserved treasure from the medieval times - Belfry of Gent. 
Bell or clock towers in medieval Belgium served two distinct purposes: they announced the time and other warnings, and played a role of a fortified watchtower where important municipal documents were kept.
Gent is located at the confluence of the two rivers - Scheldt and Leie and has access to the North Sea via a network of canals. 
Beautiful old buildings adorn the two quays - Graslei and Korenlei - on both banks of the Leie river.
I fell in love with the Belgian architecture, especially with roofs that looked like stairways. 
It's amazing how Gent managed to preserve its cultural heritage through centuries. Another treasure from the Middle Ages (12th century) - Gravensteen or "the castle of the counts" from Dutch.
I could not resist but to take more pictures of the Gent's waterfront.

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