My husband had the opportunity to visit Gent on his own before we accepted our international assignment here. We trusted his first impressions and accepted the assignment without the rest of the family visiting yet. We announced our news to friends and family in November and our first trip to Gent as a family was in December of 2015, after we accepted the assignment, in order to find a place to live.
We stayed for five nights and packed in as much touring as possible, on top of viewing many rental properties with our relocation agent (Relocation Belgium – we highly recommend!). It was a whirlwind to say the least, but a really nice opportunity for us to get introduced to Gent.
Visiting in the first week of December meant that we were in Gent during the Gentse Winterfeesten, Gent’s Christmas market. It was a lovely and festive time to visit and helped us get in the Christmas spirit. It also meant there were extra things to do that were exciting for our six-year-old, like riding a ferris wheel! Our hotel (the NH Gent Belfort – I recommend!) was in the city center which allowed us to walk right out into the Christmas Market which was best done in the evening.
During the days, when we weren’t house hunting, we explored the city. We visited Gravensteen Castle, The Belfort Gent, took a canal tour, and otherwise wandered the streets to start to get a feel for the city.
It was easy to be charmed by the city. The architecture is beautiful and it has so much history. “Quaint” kept springing to mind as an appropriate adjective. We did our best to eat local favorites like Mastellen at the Christmas market, Belgian chocolate, mussels and frites, and of course, drink Belgian beers.
It was a great first trip and we all left feeling excited about our future home, especially since 2/3 of the family had agreed to move without having visited! We headed home with a lot of work to do to prepare to move, but a lot of excitement about what lay ahead.