I've been to Gent/Ghent/Gand to look at a house. OK, let's settle on the spelling "Gent".
I was prepared: train times, bus times, walky mappy things. As tends to happen though, on arrival in Gent I found half the bus station had disappeared. The first thing one discovers about Gent is that it's a bit like a 1960s jet-setting film set in some undefined but faintly glamorous location. Everyone speaks perfect and charming English and is helpful. Having been directed to the displaced parts of the erased bus station, I decided to get a taxi.
The house was, in short, gorgeous. It stands at the end of a little paved alley, and has three floors. All exposed brick and loveliness. Good secure front door (although the lady who lived there said Gent wasn't like Brussels), little back yard, lovely. Lovely lovely. Three floors for €615 a month. However. The toilet is on the ground floor and the bedroom is up two very steep flights of stairs. Now, like most women, I like my toilet quite nearby. The idea of abseiling down two floors in the middle of the night would be enough to make one buy a potty. Also the idea of those stairs first thing in the morning is a little off-putting. You really would need a harness.
The house felt a bit far away from stuff, too. I don't know how I can substantiate that claim, seeing as it was my first hour in Gent, but there you go. So, as is traditional, I then wandered off and got lost for an hour.
Well not lost as such. I knew I was in Gent. I knew the number 4 tram went to the station. Only it didn't. I was starting to get a bit upset, so I couldn't ask anyone (stupid I know but it was dark, I was tired, and hungry and needing a wee). In the end I did what any sensible scout would do and followed the tram tracks. Then discovered what the issue was. A huge chunk of route had been ripped out to renew some tracks or something. Picking my way over the man-size Brio set, I finally disovered with a little whoop the tram going to the station. Which then quietly left without me.
First impressions: I like Gent a lot. It is classy, beautiful, slightly funky. Nice and flat for the bike types. I'm seeing another house on Monday, nearer the centre. Everything crossed. I shall try not to get lost this time.