Ghent is one of the loveliest small- to mid-sized cities in Europe, perhaps lucky to have never received UNESCO World Heritage status, unlike Bruges. Ghent was one of the earliest seats of the continental Industrial Revolution, through textiles, and the city core has splendid architecture from late medieval times up through the early 20th century. It is what Amsterdam should be, but no longer is.
The center is full of interesting, quirky small shops, along the lines of the cliche you do not expect to actually find. Only rarely are restaurant menus offered in English. Most of the tourists in the hotel seemed to be Chinese.
Walk around, don’t miss Graffiti Street, and the Ensors and the Roualt in the Fine Arts museum complement the more famous items there. The Industrie Museum has numerous textile machines from the 18th century onwards; I found it striking how different the 1770 machine was from the 1730 vintage, but how little by 1950 the machines had advanced .
Most of all, you should walk around and ponder why we seem unable (or is it unwilling?) to build such compelling cities these days.
Going Back To Medieval Times in Ghent, Belgium