Saturday, 31 May 2014

Bike and Barge Day 6 - Dendermonde to Ghent

OK so the two girls arrived back. One has two stitches on her forehead and two staples in the back of her head and loads of bruising, the other bruising only so both are on board today. Garrie stayed too as it was raining and quite cold so he decided it simply would not be fun.

Our Capt Bert gave us a talk about shipping history in the area last night. Very interesting. 40% of goods still moved by barge.  You could sail from here all the way to Moscow or from the north of Europe all the way to the south of France.

This river, the Scheldt has a 5m tidal movement which I cannot capture on a photo but which you can see moving very fast. Yesterday we were running against it, today we are with it. This barge was converted and this picture shows what it did look like.  This is only the second time it's been out since its refurbishment.  In winter it will sit in Amsterdam and can be booked as a BnB or for corporate groups. What a great idea.
Also the barges with cars are usually family owned.  On a Friday the car may be offloaded (they often have their own on board crane to do this). They then go and pick up the kids from boarding school for the weekend.
Not as impressed with the houses in Belgium. Fairly ordinary with this being one of the best we passed today.
Plenty of churches still. (With very ordinary houses)
So part of the fun is going through locks. 
I also then realised it was two locks side by side.
With one bike and barge in there, then us, they then squeezed in a third.
Meanwhile we took the time to fill up with water.
So this is pre lock fill
And then post fill
Finally the wall lifts and we can move on again.
We don't go far as we wait for the riders here.  They can then shower and be ready for a walking tour in Ghent.
and before that some beer tasting - given Belgium is famous for beer.  It's a blind test - no one knows what they are tasting.
Garrie was ready to go.
He was tasting like a pro.
And enjoying with his new friend Doug
And new friend Dave
And our "team" were also enjoying, (well pretending as they weren't drinking)
Here are the 9 beers they tried. The last one was corked.
Doug and I have started sharing photos. We're probably the two taking the most photos.
He had a bee land on him and was kind enough to hold still but I had no time to grab the macro lens.
So we walked into Ghent which has some beautiful buildings in the centre.
It's also home to the now famous "Lamb of God" painted by the Van Eyke brothers in 1432 and made more famous by the recent movie, The Monuments Men.  More information on both here.
And here is the monument to the Van Eyke brothers
We also bought some Belgian Chocolate.....
I also took this final photo for my "Green" friends.
Looked like a great spot, but we only had a short time in Ghent and then it was back to the barge for yet another sumptuous three course dinner.  Tomorrow is our last full day on the cruise. I'm thinking I should stay on the boat again, though I'd love the cycle into Bruge.  I am improving but don't want to go backwards. Will decide in the morning.