Today it quickly became apparent that Louise is going nowhere. The hospital drugs have worn off and she is in quite a bit of pain. The bruise is now a deeper shade of purple.
We quickly decide another night in Ghent is required and manage to get a decent rate to remain in the same hotel.
We need to seriously start thinking about how we are going to move on; cycling is definately out for the next few days and I am not sure whether multiple train journeys would be advisable at the moment. I have quick look a look at car/van hire options, but nothing jumps out at me as doable.
Later we take a walk across the town to visit the cathedral and then try to find a brewery and a recommended restaurant (both of which were closed!). Wandering around Ghent was actually a pleasant way to spend the morning.
Spending the extended time here has really opened my eyes to the cycling culture in this part of the world. Everyone is riding a bike; the young, the old and the quite frankly mad! I cannot take my eyes off the different bikes on show; upright, racers, mtbs, and a variety of peculiar contraptions for transporting kids, goods and animals.
Clearly this is good. Cycling is woven into the fabric of society and people here take to the cycle as naturally as those in Jersey climb in their cars or others walk. You notice that people generally cycle in ‘normal’ clothes, rather than Lycra or other cycling gear. There are plenty of facilities in the town for parking your bike and the huge number of them gives you a sense of ‘safety in numbers’ in terms of security.
Also our experience so far of cycling outside the town is that there is a plentiful supply of well maintained cycle lanes. In short, you feel that the transport network has been designed with cycles in mind. I am sure this will get better as we (eventually) move into Holland.
I have to say, however, within the town setting here in Ghent there are some downsides. First, there are areas of town where the system appears to be a free for all; roads are indistinct and cars, lorries, trams, bikes and pedestrians mingle on cobbled surfaces which can appear really dangerous. We are obviously just passing through, and I am sure there are ‘rules’ to govern this, but to the untrained eye it looks crazy. Also many cyclists enter this affray at breakneck speed, with no helmet, earphones in and/or whilst on the mobile and sometimes with someone perched on the handlebars/rack. Finally, the condition of some of the bikes being ridden around is evidently just short of the scrap yard.
But it appears to work, so who am I to impose my British Health and Safety conscious self on the rest of Europe!
I spend some more time researching van/car options. The key issue appears to be whether there is a car we can get the tandem in or whether we need to hire a van. The van option seems difficult, particularly if we want to leave it somewhere else (I am told this is not possible). Anyway I end up with a couple of leads to follow up in the morning and email couple of removal companies. Otherwise we will take the train as originally planned.
To be fair, we are now both a bit fed up of mooching around Ghent, nice though it is. We will definately be moving off tomorrow, just not sure how yet.
As light relief, we go out and have couple of beers and watch Belgium play football in a bar. Football can always be relied on to get you talking with the locals, and this was no exception.
Enough inertia; tomorrow we move out!