Little Brit.. Belgium, I Love Belgium for The Guardian
What do you do when the UK's leading quality newspaper The Guardian asks you to write an article for them about what's going on in Ghent? You say yes of course! Ghent is hosting the 2012 Guardian Travel Awards and The Guardian's Travel Editor Gemma Bowes hit up the I Love Belgium team to find out what's happening in Belgium's hipster capital. Curious what we wrote about? You can read the full article here, but we've decided to list up our picks for The Guardian about the latest openings in Ghent here:
When young entrepreneurs Dries Henau (27) and Yuri Vandenbogaerde (24) were living in a small apartment with no space for a washing machine, they got fed up with cold, strip-lit launderettes, and came up with the concept of Wasbar (Wash bar), which is set to open on 5 Octobernext Friday. A modern version of a launderette, Wasbar will be a place to wash your clothes while relaxing with a cold beer or a coffee and a bite to eat. It will be open until 10pm (6pm on Sundays) and customers will be able to work on their laptops while sipping a latte, or even get their hair done, rather than stare at their undies going round the machine.
The venue where Wasbar will open the 5th of October
Balls & Glory
"What we like most about our meatballs is that they are filled with things we love." That's the slogan of brand new meatballs restaurant Balls & Glory. Founder Wim Ballieu learned to make the perfect meatball when he was a child: his family were butchers and his grandparents had a big farm. He travelled the world catering huge events, but returned to open the restaurant, offering an assortment of stuffed meatballs, using apple sauce, cherries, rhubarb, mushrooms and black truffle, tomatoes and basil and more. The balls come in various sizes, from a 35g aperitif version (€5 for five) to a 200g "Glory Ball" (€4 each). They are prepared right in front of you and served with coleslaw or mashed potatoes.
One of Wim Ballieu's delicious stuffed meat balls
Ben Van Alboom is a journalist and part-time party organiser who founded A&Gallery in May 2011. Over the past year, it has exhibited works by Moby,Sophie van der Perre, Frederik Buyckx, Jessica Yatrofsky and Storm Thorgerson, and co-hosted the Belgian premiere of the documentary featureAnton Corbijn Inside Out. Future exhibitions include the work of photographerFranky Verdickt and Elisabeth (or the girl who manages to get her favourite artists to pose for her old-school Polaroid) Ouni's A Polaroid Story.
A work by Athos Burez, currently on show in A&Gallery
One of the city's most exciting current projects is Hotel Gent, a temporary hotel room 23m above the ground, built around the clock tower of Ghent's main train station, which, as you can see in the above photograph, is right there in the bedroom. It was created by Japanese artist Tazu Rous for a city-wide art experience project called TRACK, in which 41 artists created new works, turning Ghent into one big gallery.
Tazu Rous is well-known for his spatial "encounters" with unusual proportions, using iconic objects taken from public space. When he arrived in Europe in 1987 he was struck by the excessive – but also familiar and thus almost unnoticed – presence of public monuments and statues in the streets.
In Hotel Gent, the division between public and private space disappears as the visitor comes face to face with a public monument which, in the course of their daily routine, they would observe from a distance, only half consciously and in a fraction of a second. The room is open to guests until 7 October (€105 a night) but is unfortunately sold out, so visitors will just have to admire it from afar.
The clock tower at Ghent St.-Pieters-Station
Co-working, as in freelance professionals in different industries sharing a workspace, is popular throughout the world. One such venue in Ghent is Bar Buro, just across from the town hall. It is nothing like the sterile space you might imagine – all-white desks and pallid IT people. Rather it is a fun place to visit even if you don't have a deadline. There's a bar on the ground floor, a great place for lovers of coffee and chocolate, but also for an after-work mojito. On the first floor is an open co-working space where you'll see creative types on their Macbooks – and eating some of the chocolate treats sold downstairs.
Bar Buro is part of the Quetzal group, Belgium's most famous chocolate cafes (and there are quite a few). In Quetzal itself (a short walk away, on Sint Pietersnieuwstraat 99, quetzal.be) true chocolate lovers are strongly advised to try the cacao shot.
Bar Buro, chocolate and co-working, a dangerous combination
Ghent has some great shops, but a standout is the Josie collection, a sober yet elegant children's clothing collection that is like mini-couture. The designs, of quality and simplicity, are based on the past but designed for the future. Two sisters, Gerlinde and Mieke Verhaeghe, spend hours creating meticulous designs from superb fabrics, which they source from manufacturers that also supply Dries Van Noten and Ralph Lauren.
Whimsical photography for Josie collection