Today’s plan was to start out with the farthest out museum and work our way into the center again. My choice was the Dr. Guislain Museum of Psychiatry. Once we were there, the grounds and buildings looked like something out of, well, Psycho or American Horror Story. Beautiful architecture with lovely gardens was veiled in a smattering of creepiness. Our plans were foiled when we discovered that the museum doesn’t open until 1 pm. This is one of the faults of the Ghent Card; they don’t list the hours of the museums.
We headed back to town to look for MIAT The Museum of Industrial Archeology and Textiles. Sounds like of geeky, but I really wanted to see the textile portion. As it turned out, it was visually spectacular; but they failed miserably in only having cards within each room as descriptions. There was no rhyme or reason for what was on the card to identify what it was describing. A small picture would have been a great aid. Starting on the 5th floor, there tremendously large looms and other devices from the cotton gin, spinning wheels, and other wooden machines from the early days of textile production. This was my favorite part of the museum, but I fantasized of learning how they were invented and seeing some of them in action.
One of the sites in the book was Mad Meg. Funny that we had passed this a dozen times already and each time I thought it was a pipe to be put in the ground as there was construction going on nearby. It turns out it is a cast iron cannon weighing 12,500 kg. It never was used for the function it was made: a cannon; yet the blood red coloring is ominous.
The major problem I have with these city cards is you never seem to get your fill of museums due to the opening and closing hours. We didn’t find one that opened before 10 am. By the time you spend a couple of hours there, you are trying to cram in some more before the day is done and they close.
We did manage to stuff in the Design Museum, which was alternatively referred to as the Design Center. My expectations were to be amazed at the different types of graphic design as well as functional products. I was wrong, at least partially. Salons were filled with furniture from the 18th and 19th century. Another wing has 20th century. Even if it were not what I expected, it was a visual delight and we were there until the guard kicked us out. She kept walking by with the time left. “We close in 15 minutes.” “We close in 10 minutes.” “We are closing in 5 minutes.” After one warning, I wanted to exhibit my watch and share with her that I could tell time.
A boat ride was part of our card, so we rushed over to the dock. We were able to catch the last ride of the afternoon. It is not has breathtaking as a canal boat ride in Amsterdam, but it was still lovely and free. It would have cost us €6 each without the card.
Ghent is gorgeous at night. They make it a point to keep numerous buildings, monuments, statues, and the bridges brightly lit to create a magnificent nightscape.
For dinner, we found this place, Panda Vegetarian Restaurant, just by chance as we were walking around and saw the sign. It is a downstairs venue, so deciding to give it a shot, we went in. Neither of us is vegetarian, but we often try vegetarian restaurants just for a change of routine.
From the sign outside, prices seemed reasonable. The restaurant was serene, not at all filled, so the quiet permeated the atmosphere. Selections were limited, but we each made a different choice. The dinner was substantial and tasty, but nothing worthy of raving about. It certainly did not make us wish we were staying longer in Ghent just to return here for a second meal. We asked for tap water, but were told that no restaurant in Ghent served tap water. True or false, I don’t know. This could be a way of padding the bill. I know in Budapest, many restaurants use the same line.
If I were vegetarian, I would check out other options before settling here. That said I have to say the young waitress had perfect English and was delightfully hospitable. The kitchen staff needs the work.
Back out in the night air, it felt like beer tasting time once again.