We arrived in Gent from Brussels just at the beginning of the afternoon. It was my first train ride ever (besides the Christmas Train or the red choo choo at the Tulsa Zoo, haha)! I had heard great things about the city and couldn’t wait to walk around and explore. Jay and I decided to wander off to find our hostel, Uppelink Hostel, that ended up being in such a great location! Our room window looks out over one of the canals and straight on to the giant cathedral and Ferris wheel. It’s the most aesthetically pleasing hostel I’ve stayed in, with brick accent walls, huge wooden doors land fireplaces in every room. Our location got the best of us last night during the celebrations, though! People were going in and out, and making a ruckus on the street outside until 6:30 in the morning! But, so it goes on NYE.
After we got settled in we found out that many of the restaurants and shops are closed in Gent during the holidays. I started to really worry that we wouldn’t find a place to have dinner, but that was silly. We walked through the festive Christmas market to grab a quick hamburger (far better than the ones we’ve had in Spain, plus lots of ketchup!), then headed off to find a spot.
We ended up at a really charming Irish place, Celtic Towers, located right over the canal. It had everything I was looking for… Cozy nooks, candles, and an amazing beer list with Delirium and Stella on tap! We were there a bit early so decided to have a few drinks before dinner. Jay and I are loving having more drink options that Mahou, San Miguel, and Cruzcampo. Finally, we talked to the waitress and told her we were planning on having dinner there, and she said we had to make a reservation… Whoops! But then she told us there were two tables left and we were able to snag one!
We ended up in a small, private area that we think used to be an elevator shaft, and we had it all to ourselves. For dinner we had a seafood cocktail with Cognac sauce and Plum Tomato Soup for starters, with Irish prime steak on mushrooms and duck leg as the main course. It was sooo good! We decided it was okay to spoil ourselves since we both had such an amazing year in 2013. For drinks we had a huge glass of Hoegaarden and Gordon’s Scotch, then finished it off with an Irish Coffee that tasted like 10% coffee and 90% straight whiskey. I guess we got our money’s worth! We left in a food coma.
After a few more beers in the hostel bar, we headed out to meet Matt and Kristen to watch the fireworks over Gent’s canal. This was supposed to be a big deal, so we were a little worried when our waitress told us that there wouldn’t be as many fireworks as per usual because the city had began stopping it. We would soon find out that this left the night’s entertainment in the hands of the citizens!
A few minutes before midnight small groups of people carrying armfuls of fireworks began to set up and shoot off their supply. A few did really well and they turned out nicely, but others were haphazard and a bit scary! They were accidentally shooting into alleyways and it appeared from across the canal that one even got sent near a group of people, mostly crazy teenagers. It was hard to get photos because the show was very sporadic and left the air smokey.
What matters is that we got to ring in the new year in the beautiful city of Gent, and I got to kiss my sweetie right as the clock struck midnight. In 2013 Jay and I had some big, great moments. We celebrated one year together, took a memorable Spring Break trip with our friends, we both graduated from college with our BA’s, Jay quit smoking after 4 years, we bought our black lab Guinness who has brought so much joy into our lives, I was accepted to five different grad programs, we checked Ireland off our bucket list together, and we both took the leap of a lifetime and gathered up all our things to move to Spain. It’s been such an adventure and 2014 will have a tough time beating that! I hope everyone reading this had an amazing New Year’s. Here’s to 2014!