Yachtdreef Aires, Ghent, Belgium
We were pleasantly surprised when we arrived to see we, along with 20 other motorhome owners, were parked in front of a large green space. There was a busy canal and a small bar/restaurant alongside. It all seemed very safe and so we were comfortable to leave the motorhome unattended for a few hours.
At this point Keith planted a seed suggesting that rather than moving on we should maybe stay the night here!? I wasn’t quite ready for this transition from attended to non-attended aires… I was definitely a little hesitant. However, my brief conversation with the lovely older couple a few motorhomes down and a visit from a police car reassured me that it was secure enough.
O.k. so I was still a little apprehensive!
Things to do
We wandered through the backstreets of Ghent (with the help of google maps). As we turned onto St Michaels bridge the scenery was quite striking. Now I’m not an architectural geek, but I was quite taken by the view with a number of beautiful buildings clustered together around the canal. There were lots of eateries dotted along the canal and lots o big name and boutique shops reached out along the side streets.
There are a few family friendly things to do such as canal trips offering a close up look into the historic architecture and make-up of this compact city. However, having just been to Amsterdam this wasn’t something we took advantage of.
Generally Ghent felt quite modern so we were surprised to find Graffiti alley which had been sprayed and designed over every inch of brick. With many layers of paint the area is a sea of colour and energy as you try to pick out the images staring back at you.
We continued our walk through the cobbled streets and visited Gravensteen Castle ‘Castle of the counts’. It is centrally located, costing €10 per adults but free for children under 16. There were a total of 15 exhibits/rooms to visit and the story took you back to the days when it was used as a prison. There were a few windy, narrow and steep staircases to navigate but the result was worth it giving panoramic views across Ghent from the castle walls.
If this all seems a little too sedate then situated not far from our Yachtdreef camping spot was the sports facility & playground of Blaarmeersen. We didn’t visit as it had many similarities to Domein De Gavers with Park, Lake, Beach etc… and time meant we were unable to visit.
However, if your little ones are looking to cool down in the summer or need to burn some energy (there are some water slides), it looks like a fab day out. From Ghent City centre is takes 25 minutes to walk, 15 minutes to cycle or you can take a bus.
My overall impression of Ghent City Centre was that it was more of an ‘adult’ place. There didn’t seem to be a huge amount to do with the kids, unless they really enjoyed museums or castles. However, we enjoyed our days visit and found the locals to be very friendly and helpful.
I may return to the area but maybe as a long weekend break with girlfriends (lots of boutique shops/bars) or a romantic weekend break (lots of canal bars and restaurants).