A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
Here in Leiden we really are at the “doorstep of Europe”! Even after several months, I am still amazed by how incredibly close everything is. This comes in handy when you need to unplug a little from all the stress of the student life. This is exactly what happened to me and a couple of friends two weeks ago, and I swear organizing a trip has never been easier! We left Leiden on Friday and we headed to Ghent, the day after we took a train to Antwerp and on Sunday evening we came back to the Netherlands.
After our Friday classes, we hopped on a Flixbus from the Hague. It took us 3 hours to get to Ghent central station (the cost of the ticket is around 10 euros) and an additional 15/20 minutes walk to reach the hostel and the city center. Despite the rain and the wind, we took advantage of the walk to take a look of the city.
Ghent is absolutely lovely! The city center is really characteristic and full of medieval buildings that are definitely worth a visit. Also, in the evening the city is very much alive and full of students, as it hosts the biggest university in Belgium. There’s plenty of pubs and nice places you can see of course, but here some tips!
√ Try the typical candies from Ghent – the Cuberdons -, you will find several vendors in the main squares of the city
√ Want to try the famous Belgian beer? Then don’t miss “de Dulle Griet”, a really old pub in the city center with more than 500 beers available, that you can try in the typical Belgian “coach glass”. Apparently, this glass is so unique and beautiful that people kept stealing it from the pub, so now if you want to order it, you have to give them one of your shoes as a deposit. But, my word, they will give it back to you if you return the glass safe and sound!
√ To learn more about the city, join a free walking tour! Every day local students meet tourists in front of the Uppelink hostel and guide them around the city, sharing anecdotes, legends, and the best places in town to eat french fries.
Tips aside, the city is lovely, so just take a walk and get lost, you will not be disappointed. Also, if you go on the second Saturday of the month, don’t miss the book market inside the beautiful Saint Nicholas’ Church. We stumbled upon it totally by chance and it was lovely, with books in many different languages and at an incredibly cheap price.
Have you ever been to Ghent? Do you have any other piece of advice to share?
Let us know in the comments, and see you tomorrow for the 2nd part of the article!