Visitors from abroad always make a great excuse for exploring your own country. I took a Brazilian friend to see Gent this weekend and went into some shops on the way. One was on my to do-list, and another was a complete surprise.
Let me tell you about the last one first. I wanted to show my friend one of the oldest buildings in Gent, located in the street Nederpolder. Right across the street was a store I had never noticed before. There was no name or a clear sign, just a lot of accessories and a lady ironing inside. She was the owner and when I asked if this was a new store, she assured they had been at this exact location for at least 5 years. She sells clothing by the colourful Belgian brand Just In Case and a hell of a lot accessories. My eye fell on a beautiful winter scarf right when we were planning on leaving. I bought it, and she told me that the scarfs were overstock from Belgian designers who took out the tags. Apparently my scarf was originally sold for 300 euros. At 50 euros I still considered it quite expensive, but it's the most beautiful dark green and super comfortable and I wear it all the time. Behind the computer, eating, at work. Right to the point where my boss asked me yesterday if I was really that cold.
dressing up trees with scarves.
I can't find the exact adress, but it's right where the street Hoogpoort changes into Nederpoort. If you're around that location and in need of a break, turn the corner and go to Huize Colette in the Belfortstraat. It's got a salon-feeling, with cosy corners and a selection of second hand books (you can buy them or read them for free right there). I'm devoted to Colette because of their great hot chocolate. I always take the Malteser one, my Brazilian friend took Yin Yan, a mix of white and dark chocolate, and proclaimed it 'best host chocolate ever'. If that ain't a quality guarantee, I don't know what is.
Over to 'Maaike Kleedt' in the Zuivelbrugstraat. This had been on my to do-list for a long time. The building used to be occupied by a bit of a boring shop before, but Maaike really turned it into something. She's as nice a shopkeeper as any, and sports an infectious smile. She looks a bit like the fashion godmother you've always wished for. Maaike Kleedt has a great selection of clothes you won't just find anywhere. I didn't know most of the brands, they were mainly Scandinavian: Odd Molly, Rules by Mary, Nakkna, Dagmar, ... The French Gerard Darel and (personal favorite of mine) Surface to Air are a few exceptions. I love the diversity, and the way the clothes are presented is really cool: they're on racks hanging from the ceiling. (Zone 09 tells me this is because the building is a little crooked. Before you raise your eyebrows, the building is part of a really old neighbourhood, called Patershol. And on a random sidenote, 'Pater' means 'Father', 'hol' means 'hole' but has the connotation of 'arse'. Just so you know where exactly you're shopping.) Prices range from affordable to quite expensive.
When you cross the street, you can get typical Gent candy in the cutest candyshop in the world: Temmerman (Kraanlei 79)!