It’s my third full day in Belgium, and today for the first time I was asked my opinion of Trump.
But first I had to finish my Ghent experiences and sit on a train for nearly two hours to get to Antwerp.
I started the day with more art at the MSK (Museum voor Schone Kunsten), or Museum of Fine Arts. It was a good collection, mostly of Flemish art but with some from other parts of Europe, covering the late middle ages and early Renaissance through the mid-twentieth century, and it’s housed in a beautiful early twentieth-century building.
From there I went to the lovely St. Peter’s Abbey (Sint-Pietersabdij), with a lovely garden and orchard adjacent. This was formerly a Benedictine abbey; it is now used as museum and exhibition space.
Then I had a picnic lunch at the Korenmarkt before hitting the Huis van Alijn, a fun and funky exhibit of life in Ghent in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
Finally I visited the Castle of the Counts, also known as Gravensteen. This was not worth the price of admission. It’s much more impressive on the outside.
Though the view of Ghent from the top of the castle was impressive:
When I got back to my apartment to pick up my luggage, there was a young woman standing in front of the door to the building with a toddler in a stroller and two huge bags. It turns out she was the next guest staying at the airbnb, and she was waiting for the maid to come let her in. We got to talking, and she complained about how hard it was to get anywhere in Broo-zhes and in Brussels because of all the hills. (Hills? In Belgium?) She asked me if Ghent was mostly flat (it is, but so is all of Belgium; well, okay, Brussels has an upper town that you have to go uphill to get to, but the way she talked, I wondered what she was doing with this kid traveling in Europe at all) and she asked what there is to do in Ghent (again, what’s a woman like this doing in Ghent?). But I didn’t get to ask her or give her any suggestions, because the maid showed up and I got my luggage and made my way to the tram stop and made it to the train station and didn’t have to worry about how she was going to get the stroller and all the luggage up those two very steep flights of stairs.
It was about 15.00 when I got to the train station, and the next train was at 15.07, but it was afgeschaft, which Google Translate says means “abolished.” The next train was at 15.26, and it was a local and it got stuck for a while in the middle of the Belgian countryside and took almost two hours to get to Antwerp.
The Antwerp train station is the most beautiful train station I’ve ever seen.
It was an easy ten-minute walk to my apartment, which is really nice. I thought I decided to get dinner and then go for a walk, but by the time dinner was over, it was too late for the walk.
As I was finishing my dinner, an elderly man and a slightly younger but still elderly woman sat down at the table next to me, and we got to talking. When I told them I was from the USA (which, it’s worth mentioning, no European has ever guessed based on my accent. It’s not that they guess something else, it’s that they have no idea what American English sounds like compared with British or Australian or, for that matter, English spoken by a German or Italian) the woman asked me if I voted for Trump or Hillary. Neither of them can understand the Trump thing. But they also were completely unaware that Hillary is not popular.
But the most interesting part was when the man told me he is an inventor, and he has invented a way of harnessing energy from water pressure. He pointed out that Einstein was mistaken about thermodynamics, that heat isn’t energy, that 1+1 does not equal 2 (except in mathematics). He handed me a folder of pages that describe his invention of a water-pressure-generated energy source, and he wrote his name and address on it so I can reach him if I have any questions. (The whole thing was written in Dutch, so yeah, I had a lot of questions.) They left before I did (because the restaurant was closing and they were too late to get dinner), and when I left I “accidentally” left the folder on the table. So it’s possible his theory is completely valid, and I’ll never know because I don’t have the proof.
Such is life in Belgium.
Tomorrow, for the first day since I got here, I have no where to go except where I already am. No trains. I’m just going to see Antwerp.