It probably wasn't that wise to travel to Gent this evening, given that it's been a day of industrial action. But I forgot and bought my ticket, and then remembered. So, what the fuck, eh. I was, and I do not exaggerate, the only person walking towards Gare Centrale, at a time when there is normally a shoal. The station was open but nothing was on any indicator board. A few other dogged lunatics hung around hopefully. I was just trying to work out if protesters on the line at Schaerbeek would affect my train when, hurrah, it arrived.
The alternative title of this blog should be Lost in Gent at Night, because that's what I seem to specialise in. Trams that don't go their normal route, me getting on the wrong one, you name it. Anyway, I went to the restaurant on the corner of my road so that I could see their back alley. It may seem like an odd request but they allowed it with a smile. I stood in an alley about a metre and a half wide looking up at my balcony and a shadowy distant wheel, way up.
Next thing, find a neighbour. Parking my shyness, I rung the doorbell of a flat with lights on, in my building. I was buzzed in without a word. Not strange at all...at the second floor the door is wide open. It was like my flat but with clothes on. Perhaps she's expecting someone. No, it turns out she saw me. I'm not sure where. Or when. She was very friendly and gave me rosé wine with ice cubes. We talked about all sorts of things and then I left, shoving a note for the chef on the fourth floor into his mailbox. As far as I can see, he is the keeper of the pulley wheel.
The journey home was rather hellish. As if the industrial action had finally caught up like lack of sleep, trains were being cancelled left and right. A train to the airport disgorged all its passengers back onto the platform. I wanted a wee and the toilets were shut. It got to the point where I was considering a hotel. And then a train for Brussels came. To make amends, it appeared to stop at every no-horse town on the way. There was nothing for it at Gare du Midi but to take a taxi. The alternative was shaking all my organs loose with bitter cold, at the tram stop.
That's it really. Don't go to Gent during a strike, unless you really have to. But my goodness it's beautiful at night.