A day in Ghent

This month's convluted travel routing took me through Ghent, Belgium. The bus timetables didn't quite line up to let me go straight through from Boston (the original) to Sarajevo, so I figured if I have to spend a day in a city I should pick a nice one, and one that I haven't been to before.

I arrived, early, at 0530. It was very cold. Thankfully one of the earliest opening coffeeshops happens to be an all-vegan one - Full Circle Coffee. Unfortunately I still had two hours to kill before 0730, which I spent shivering in a corner in the train station. It wasn't the best.

When I made my way to Full Circle, it was still dark. The place is super welcoming, with sofas, comfy chairs, as well as tables, and a wall-facing bench lined with power sockets, so it's clear laptopping is welcome. I started my day earlier than usual, with an oat milk flat white, and chocolate pie (8EUR total). Their other offerings included carrot cake and chai carrot cake.

A poorly lit train station sign reading Ghent-Dampoort A chocolate pie on a plate, and a cup of foamy flat white coffee on a table A cafe interior with cream walls, and benches with cushions on

The wifi was fine, and there was a power socket by a sofa. I curled up there and watched the sun rise out of the glass door which leads to their back terrace. The sun didn't so much as rise, but the sky turned a lighter shade of grey. I thought about leaving for a walking tour at 10, but just as I was making my mind up to close my laptop it started to sleet. I stayed.

Just after 11 the weather had improved, and I headed to Mie Vie, a vegan cafe in the town center. I had a somehow spectacular cheese salad sandwich on crusty bread, and a danish pastry. This place was also welcoming, and also had good wifi and power options, and a decent amount of space. It didn't get busy over lunch time.

A cafe counter and front door from inside A crusty baguette filled with salad and (vegan) cheese on a plate A danish pastry on a plate

I joined this walking tour at 1300. It lasted two hours, and was fun and informative. I learnt that French Fries are Belgian, there are three peeing children statues (compared to Brussels' one), and there's art in one of the cathedral's that is the most-stolen ever. It rained, hailed, and the sun came out a little, but mostly it was just overcast. Our Mexican tour guide is in the final year of his PhD in international politics. It was a pretty large group; I tipped 5EUR.

I almost caved and got chips because I was cold, but resisted, holding out for a vegan all-you-can-eat buffet later. I went to the library (De Krook) to be productive for a while. It's a pretty cool new building with interesting architecture. There were lots of people studying on the top floor, but still space.

A geometric building silhouetted against a blue sky A geometric building in the dark, lit up with lights from inside

Next I headed to Komkommertijd for dinner. An all-you-can-eat vegan buffet for a lofty 17EUR. The place was packed and I was permitted a table on the condition I left by 20.00. This wasn't ideal as I had been hoping to use this as my warm place until my 22.00 bus. In any case, I ate all I could. The food was good; a selection of hot stew-y type dishes, all rich and cheesey, as well as spring rolls and pakora-type things, soup, bread and various salads. There was a blueberry cake for dessert. They don't serve tap water unless a drink is ordered which I thought was a little unreasonble given the cost of the buffet. I watched a tiny old lady next to me polish off plate after plate. There was no wifi.

A bunch of people getting food from a buffet in a restaurant A white plate with food in various shades of yellow and brown Blueberry cake on a white plate

I decided to head back full circle to Full Circle Coffee for a hot chocolate, if it was still open. It wasn't. But around the corner I stumbled across Lokaal, which I'd heard about but forgot to look for on the map. From there I did get a hot chocolate, served in a giant vase. "Sometimes we like to play practical jokes on people and today it's you." Out of the corner of my eye I also saw two women struggling to eat dessert from a comically oversized bowl. I stayed well past closing time (21.00) since the place was still half full. The staff were friendly and funny and it had a generally silly vibe. Just as I was leaving, someone broke out Twister but with vegetables and George Michael instead of the usual coloured circles.

A hot chocolate served in a large vase with a metal straw A cheesegrater with light coming from inside A Twister mat on the floor with people playing. The images are vegetables and George Michael's face.

Then back to Dampoort, for bus number 3 to Cologne Airport.

The rest of the photos are here.

🏷 libraries vegan food travel tourism ghent