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Old May 29th, 2012, 05:59 PM   #121
MattN
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My uncle said exactly the same thing when he spent a day or two in Ieper coming back from Paris. It's probably happened to me a couple of times. Of course, they're quite different close up and people often comment on how hard some sounds are for them to say.

They are similar as languages, though grammar and word order takes a bit of getting used to as with anything else.
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Old May 29th, 2012, 10:01 PM   #122
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600 West, great thread so far, I enjoyed the one you did about your travels in the north of England and this one is just as interesting.

I know it's a few pages back, but regarding the church in Paris with the French Republican motto (Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité) engraved on its wall: between the Revolution (1789) and the law seperating Church and State (1905) there were often tensions and power struggles between the clergy and the state - the inscription that you saw is not the only one to be found in a church in France; apparently they result from disputes between local priests and the municipalities, and in cases such as these the Municipality (representing the authority of the Republic) had the last word!
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Old May 29th, 2012, 11:39 PM   #123
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joshsam View Post
To keep them in form? So that they not grow to large and have nicely shaped crown I guess... I'm so used to the fact that trees in urban area's are cut like that, that i never even wondered why they would not do the same around the world. It's called pollarding.

Pollarded trees in my own town: http://i975.photobucket.com/albums/a...N/P2010200.jpg
Yeah here they do the same thing but only if the tree affect other things like electric cables or builgings, but not like that I mean if you can see in the picture they literally cut the whole tree and looks like a public park so that's why I wonder why they do cut it


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@600West I agree with you that "river" looks more like a canal Lovely pics btw


And you seem obsessed with police cars lol I find that really interesting
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Old May 30th, 2012, 12:04 AM   #124
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Piltup Man View Post
600 West, great thread so far, I enjoyed the one you did about your travels in the north of England and this one is just as interesting.

I know it's a few pages back, but regarding the church in Paris with the French Republican motto (Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité) engraved on its wall: between the Revolution (1789) and the law seperating Church and State (1905) there were often tensions and power struggles between the clergy and the state - the inscription that you saw is not the only one to be found in a church in France; apparently they result from disputes between local priests and the municipalities, and in cases such as these the Municipality (representing the authority of the Republic) had the last word!
Thanks very much for that input. I was dissapointed that no one seemed to know.

So.... do you think this is still a church and it just had to add those words to its building? I could see that but what is strange then is that is also says "communal property" on it.

I've been thinking it more likely that either a) the church was confiscated by the government who then put those inscriptions on it or that b) church attendance dropped so that the church closed and the local government took over the building for other uses.

If no one knows maybe I can e-mail my host and ask him because I am very curious about it.
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Old May 30th, 2012, 12:06 AM   #125
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And you seem obsessed with police cars lol I find that really interesting
Actually I am not all that obsessed about police cars. What happened is that in my trip to England I saw that the police cars looked really nice with incredible paint schemes. So I took pictures of them because I thought they looked so nice.

The down side is that now I compare everyones police cars to England's, and of course most countries police cars aren't so nice though I did see a real nice one in Germany.
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Old May 30th, 2012, 12:33 AM   #126
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I've been thinking it more likely that either a) the church was confiscated by the government who then put those inscriptions on it or that b) church attendance dropped so that the church closed and the local government took over the building for other uses.
Note that in France (as in Belgium) most church properties were confiscated by the State during the French Revolution and these were never given back. Instead a different arrangement was worked out by the Concordat of 1801 (Belgium was back then under French rule and the arrangement was kept after gaining independence) which stipulated that former church properties remained state property but in return the State would pay clerical salaries. This arrangement is still active today. So even now most churches in both countries are still directly or indirectly owned by the State and as a logical consequence it is the State that has to pay most of the conservation costs. My point is that church and State are not so strictly separated as sometimes assumed (at least in Belgium and France).

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Old May 30th, 2012, 01:11 AM   #127
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You can also see it as something positive. The state, wich is obviously has no religion and isn't run by any religious party whatsoever (CDenV isn't really that religious if you'd ask me and they also heavely lost votes), can dictate what the church can do and can't do I think in France it's even more the case...
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Old May 30th, 2012, 01:22 AM   #128
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@600West I agree with you that "river" looks more like a canal Lovely pics btw
Well technically it's a 'canalized river'.

But in Ghent it is even for residents difficult to tell which is which. In Ghent the river Leie flows into the Scheldt but before doing that both rivers meander and split several times. And to make things really complicated there are also some real canals.




You see. It's a total mess.

Last edited by De Klauw; May 30th, 2012 at 01:41 AM.
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Old May 30th, 2012, 02:24 AM   #129
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LOL!


Now I understand!



Quote:
Originally Posted by 600West218 View Post
Actually I am not all that obsessed about police cars. What happened is that in my trip to England I saw that the police cars looked really nice with incredible paint schemes. So I took pictures of them because I thought they looked so nice.

The down side is that now I compare everyones police cars to England's, and of course most countries police cars aren't so nice though I did see a real nice one in Germany.

I think the best police cars in europe are in The Netherlands and some in germany
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Old May 30th, 2012, 02:32 AM   #130
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On the third day in Ghent my plan was to go to Oostende and see the English channel, which would be nice in and of itself, and, more importantly, to see the best kept section of the German Atlantic Wall from WWII.

I expected to leave early and spend most of the day in Oostende. But when you don’t get to bed until 4 am that is not so easy to do. I don’t think I left the apartment until after 10 am.

I think walked to the train station which from where I was took about 45 minutes, even walking fast.

Along the way I stopped to take pictures of an interesting device I had seen before.

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Instead of using a crane to get things to the roof they used this portable angled elevator

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A pretty clever device, I do have to say.

After about a 30 minute train ride I found myself in Oostende, but much later than I had expected arriving. As I needed to be back in Ghent to meet my host and go to a concert he was taking me to I was really pressed for time.

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Right from getting off the train there was some very interesting looking stuff. There were gigantic cranes that looked to be on a ship or barge. And there were huge white tubes and what looked to be windmill blades.

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I am guessing that these were wind turbines that were going to be set up offshore somewhere.

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I didn’t have time to go check it all out as I had to run to the Atlantic Wall museum. I was hoping they would be there when I got back but they weren’t.

As the web site for the museum is pretty bare bones I didn’t have good directions on how to get to it. I assumed, wrongly, that there would be a tourist office that could help me. There wasn’t so I wound up asking, of all people, the guy working in the bag check place. He gave me a map and marked the location and told me that it was no more than two or three kilometers. Good, walking briskly I could get there in a half hour and see some of Oostende along the way.

I walked out the train station and what did I see?

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What else would it be in Belgium but 20 thousand bikes. If I had been smart I should have taken one to get to the museum faster.

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The local church which of course I did not go in - no time.

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Darn, just now I am noticing the moped in the bottom of that picture. Should have stolen that :-(

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Snails, snails, snails.

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And of course, there were lots of what are the national bird - cranes.

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Looked interesting but it was blocked by construction fences.

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This is what the whole place looked like - large hotels and apartment buildings lining all the streets and the shoreline. Oostende was much bigger than I expected. I would think people would to the south of France or Spain for beach vacations but apparently lots of them come here. It was a cold and windy day and the few people I saw wind surfing were wearing wet suits to stay warm.

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Gray and gloomy. Looks like the south shore of Lake Ontario where I grew up.

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A really good day for kites.

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It was around this point where I realized I had a problem. I had been walking very quickly for at least half an hour and nothing looking like an Atlantic Wall museum was in sight. Worse still, I hadn’t even gotten to the airport which I had to pass before getting to the museum. And I was quickly running out of time. Clearly, staying out so late and asking a baggage handler for directions were not two of my better decisions on this trip.

But I had no choice. I really, really wanted to see the Atlantic Wall so I pressed on as quickly as I could.

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There was a trolley here (which I was too stupid to take) and I saw another of these little contraptions. Notice the wheel that the cable is looped over with the weights at the bottom. I guess this is to add tension to the overhead power cables and prevent sagging.

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Finally, I got to the airport, but more than an hour had passed and I had actually done a lot of running. The guy had really screwed me telling me it was 2 or 3 kilometers. It took me an hour and half to get there walking VERY fast and often running. It must be at least 7 or 8 kilometers.

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After a while the big buildings gave way to individual homes, many of which were quite nice. Nobody better try to tell me this is social housing too!!

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Finally I got a picture of one of these. I had seen a number of these tractors in the city of Ghent. I totally freaked me out seeing big farm tractors going through the middle of the city. And here was one in Oostende. Only later when I saw them in Charleroi did I realize they may not be farm tractors after all.

Finally I made it to the museum, but with only about 45 minutes or an hour to rush through the place and try to get back to get a train to Ghent. I was really annoyed but there was nothing I could do.

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Some mines from WW I and WW2. This section of the Atlantic Wall was actually first built up by the Germans in WW I and that is the part you see first.

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The novelty of this place is all the bunkers and connecting tunnels were left in tack and in really good condition.

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This is what a WW I bunker would have looked like.

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Here you can see some of the long scrubby grass and bush that grows in the sandy soil along the coast and in which much of the Wall was built.

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This is a German range finder that uses the long sides (the person looks in the middle but via mirrors sees from the ends of it) to be able to triangulate and calculate distances.

A bunker from WW II. Obviously these had their own engineering challenges given that you wanted unobstructed slits to be able to view out of and fire out of. But the longer those slits the more vulnerable your roof to collapse when it takes a hit. You will see later in France such bunkers have often had their slits filled with bricks to give them more support.

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German charts to identify allied aircraft.

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Many of the bunkers had recreations of what they would have looked like during the war. This was a regular barracks I think. They were VERY good. I think they managed to get a lot of authentic weapons and uniforms. Also, the audio guide to the tour was very informative.

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One downside is they didn’t have many original artillery pieces. So they would put in guns that might have been authentic but didn’t belong where they put them. This huge and protected bunker was for an artillery piece not this little AA gun.

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This is one of the tunnels that connected all the bunkers and they are all in good condition with original brick work. The reason is they used very high quality glazed bricks to build the tunnels.

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I think this was a gun repair shop.

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An artillery bunker.

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Here you can get a sense of how thick the walls of the bunker and the steel doors were.

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This was interesting. The artillery piece is not German - it was a Belgian artillery piece capture by the Germans and then used in the Atlantic Wall. To me this shows how desperate the Germans were. To use some one elses gun that you do not likely make ammunition for and that you would have a hard time getting spare parts for is not something one would normally do. You want all your equipment to be standardized both to ease training and to make all the ammunition and parts interchangeable. The Germans apparently didn’t have that luxury.

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Note how it is set up to rotate.

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All the bunkers had these hand operated phones.

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The communication bunker.

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Probably a lot of German soldiers had this view in 1943 and 1944.

BTW, they mentioned some eastern European and Russians who volunteered to serve the Nazis were in special military units stationed at the Atlantic Wall (they didn’t trust them enough to use them on the Eastern Front). Some deserted and that was a problem. After the war the Allies agreed, at Stalin’s request, to send them back to the Soviet Union. There they were generally executed or sent to labor camps where they died.

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The museum was great. A normal trip there should be two or three hours to take your time and see everything - it is bad that I was so rushed. But the museum people were helpful and called me a taxi so I could bet back to the train station.

I got back to Ghent a bit late but met my host at the station. I thought my day was basically over but the best was yet to come.
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Old May 30th, 2012, 03:57 AM   #131
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What a stunning city!!!!!!!

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Old May 30th, 2012, 04:49 AM   #132
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The building the Belfry is part of is quite massive.

BTW, note the dragon way up on the very top of the Belfry. That is a copy but hundreds of years ago another dragon was put up there. I think the dragon was stolen from some other city. Anyways, I am very curious how they got it up there. Very large scaffolding maybe?




Note that the current top of the Belfry is only around 100 years old, although it is based on an original 14th-Century design. It has had numerous different tops before, almost one for each century of its existence. The previous one was made of cast iron and was painted to make it look like stone. It caused the foundations to shift because of its weight and had to be replaced.

I recently made this blended image that shows the change over the course of a century:


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No idea what this building is but I thought it was nice.
It's the main theatre of the city
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Old May 30th, 2012, 04:51 AM   #133
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Using a helicopter is cheating.

I was wondering how they got the original one up there 500 years ago.
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Old May 30th, 2012, 04:52 AM   #134
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What a stunning city!!!!!!!

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Chill with all the cheers. You are going to revive my post traumatic stress from all the Belgian beer I drank there - I think I can feel a headache coming on now
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Old May 30th, 2012, 05:16 AM   #135
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There really wasn’t much activity on this river. In fact, I don’t think I recall seeing any boats ever moving on it. That is very different from, say, Chareloi where I would see lots of cargo boats using the canals..
This is because there's a canal that goes all the way around the city, connecting the seaport to the Scheldt river, and all ship traffic goes through that canal. It's called "Ringvaart" (Ring/Circular canal). If you look Ghent up on Google Maps it's easy to see. Most of the R4 (Ring motorway around Ghent) to the West and South of Ghent runs along the banks of that canal.

It was dug because the ever growing ship traffic was putting a big constraint on all traffic in the city center (bridges opening all the time, that's not very practical in a canal-riddled city like that), plus the boats kept becoming larger and the old waterways of the city were becoming too small.


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I can make out “socialist” but not the other word.
Werkersvereniging means trade union. Actually it literally means laborers union, but nowadays we call them "vakbond" - which literally means trade union.



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Very typical looking Flemish buildings but I am not sure how old they actually are.
Probably between 100 and 120 years old.


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The Ghent Belfry. It is also very old (1300s?) and was used to serve as a lookout post for the city to warn of invaders coming and also was a bit of a secure place for residents.
They served as bell towers, clocks and lookout towers mainly. The first concern for those looking out from it would probably be fire before invaders. As Ghent had a population of around 60.000 people when this tower was erected, it would have been a bit too small to function as a refuge for residents. They did function as a safe keep for something though: usually the city's most important legal documents such as its town privileges.
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Old May 30th, 2012, 05:44 AM   #136
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Thanks for the great info Puinkabouter!!
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Old May 30th, 2012, 06:07 AM   #137
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Ghent Day 3 continued....

I arrived late back at the St. Peters Station in Ghent. The original plan was for my host to meet me there at 4 pm and take me on a tour of Ghents industrial area and port before taking me to a performance by the choir he is in. I thought by my being late I had now lost my shot at the industrial tour and was pretty bummed about that.

But my host was an awesome guy and changed into his choir clothes early so that he could give me a tour and go straight to the concert after that. So my tour of industry and the port was back on!!

We drove straight across the city, as best as I could tell in a northwesterly direction.

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The first thing we came up to was a big Volvo car assembly factory. Wow, Ghent even has automobile factories!! Who would have guessed. And now that dissassembled Volve on display at the industrial museum made sense.

Not also the wind turbines scattered about.

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As Ghent also has an actual sea port (yes a sea port where major ocean going cargo ships can come) Japanese cars are imported to Europe through Ghent.

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The industrial area straddles Ghents big ship channel ( or river, or whatever it is), so we had to take ferries back and forth a couple of times.

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There was a long line so we had to wait for this to go and come back.

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A big power plant down river. I think it is inactive.

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The also import bulk materials here such as coal and limestone and other materials for cement.

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After getting across we then drove in the direction of Ghent and came to a gigantic paper factory.

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We also went by some petro-chemical stuff

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The paper plant was huge. Really huge. And very modern. Ghents industry was no old, decaying, out of date industry. They clearly had modern industry that was being invested in. This bodes very well for Ghent’s future, and Belgiums.

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Very big and long conveyors for moving everything around.

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Then we drove along the same side of the water but away from Ghent and went by the old power plant.

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Across the channel I could see more of the port.

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As you can see they have some “real” ships coming into Ghent.

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I believe this is a new power station but I am not sure that the cooling tower is part of it. There was a very big industrial complex, mainly a steel mill, that had a big co-generation plant and the cooling tower may be part of that. I’m not sure.

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I believe this was a cement factory. Looks very new.

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They even had grain silos too!!!!

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Looking down towards the huge ArcelorMittel steel mill.

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This rolling crane was in operation. I believe it was picking up scrap metal.

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We were back on the original side of the channel and went along side this huge complex which could have been the steel mill or cement factory - I can’t tell.

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This huge piping ran more than a kilometer.

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Some newly assembled Volvo’s going by.

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Some cars of a freight train to the side of the road. In England I barely saw a freight train the entire time I was there. But in Belgium they were all over the place. They were never that long, but they were common. A few times as I was waiting in a station for a passenger train a freight train would go through.

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That looks like a diesel engine. What will I see next - trains with “Union-Pacific” painted on them? :-)

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Going back by the steel mill again.

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And the Honda import center.

The tour of the port and industrial area. Much better than these pictures convey - it is hard to take decent pictures from in a moving car. But the point was clear - Ghent isn’t an industrial has been, it is an active manufacturing center.

Next we headed to the other side of town - both literally and figuratively - for the concert.

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Going through Ghent we went by what is pretty much its only tall office building.

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We then went on a very affluent commercial street that had some very upscale auto dealerships such as this BMW one and a big Ferrari one. Interestingly, it also had numerous strip clubs with woman actually modeling in the windows sort of like Amsterdam. I was very surprised to see that in this part of town.

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Oh, and look what comes rumbling down the road - another one of these.

Finally we arrived in the town where the concert was to be. I don’t recall its name but I think it is the most affluent section of Ghent and maybe some here will recognize it.

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A nice church with odd trees. I really don’t get how those trees survive.

As the choir had to rehearse for about an hour before the concert had time to wander around the town.

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You can tell this is a very well kept and upscale place.

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I walked down some of the side streets and the houses were very nice.

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Behind the very nice community center where the concert was to be held there was a small park with a very placid river running through it.

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Then I went inside for the concert which was superb. Before the concert some people spoke. It was interesting to me that although I could not understand even a single word being said there was one person who spoke with great authority and ease and I thought to myself maybe he is the mayor of the town or something like that. Turns out, he was the mayor of the town. Its amazing what you can pick up on from non-verbal clues.

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Well, I guess this is appropriate. The last picture has a crane in the middle of it - the official bird of Ghent, at least in my mind.

As I would be leaving early the next morning for Lille this was the end of my stay in Ghent. Although I was there only a few days I came away very impressed with Ghent. It is a small city but it has just about everything - amazing history and architecture, the vibrancy of a university city with many pubs and restaraunts, industry and affluence, great public transportation yet it is also walkable, and, last but not least, it seemed like a very livable city. In short you have most of the amenities of a big city without all the headaches. My host in Ghent was very proud of his city and I can fully understand why.

But tomorrow would be Saturday, and there would be new places to explore.
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Old May 30th, 2012, 11:25 AM   #138
WC_EEND
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The village you were in is called Sint-Martens-Latem and is indeed one of the most affluent bits of Gent.

Looking forward to seeing your pictures of Lille

edit: most "Gentenaars" (people who live in Gent) are proud of their city (myself included) and love it here. I've shown pictures of Gent to friends of mine who live across the world and they all say it looks absolutely beautiful.
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Old May 30th, 2012, 11:43 AM   #139
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Very interesting places, not only for the architecture, but also for the history. Thanks man.
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Old May 30th, 2012, 12:29 PM   #140
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Great pictures and very nice tour of Ghent overall . I've been to the atlantic museum long time ago on a school trip once. Still looks the same Also Oostende looks way bigger than it actually is because of all the hotels and the flats that tourists can rent to stay there for a week or so...
When it's good weather those streets and beaches are packed with people coming from all over Belgium.
If you'd like to see more places on the Belgian coast the this thread is a must watch

The industrial port of Ghent is the 3rd biggest Sea port in Belgium. Antwerp ofcourse being number 1 and Bruges at 2. You seem surprised about the car assembly factories. It doesn't really matter where those plants are in Belgium, infrastructure is everywhere to serve those plants. There is a huge Ford car assembly factory not to far from my home where my father works. What I'm trying to say is that big and small companies are erverywhere. We are a very industrialised nation Good you saw some of suburban houses too. If you go further away from the bigger cities, also middele class can afford such houses in Belgium.
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Last edited by joshsam; May 30th, 2012 at 12:36 PM.
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