Legends from our own lunchtimes

Saturday, July 30, 2022

A city with a hangover
Friday 29th July - Gent

We have been told that the week after the Ghent Festivities is referred to as “empty pockets” week, because after attending what is said to be the biggest Outdoor Festival in Europe, no one has any money left.  It is apparently a very big deal.

As we have walked around the outskirts of the city centre over the last few days, there’s very much a “morning after” feeling about the place, with an enormous amount of dismantling and cleanup to be done and an equally enormous amount of lethargy being applied to the task.  It is happening though, and one gets the feeling all will be back in order well before the start of next year’s Festivities.

There’s a cloak of silence hanging over the place as well, although not in the well trod tourist paths where it seems to be business as usual.  Even there, piles of scaffold and temporary fencing await collection, and a few businesses are closed “for cleaning”, so no photos of the tourist end of town today.

Some of this silence for which the hung-over will be specially grateful, is no doubt due to the very strict restrictions of vehicular movement in the centre zone introduced in many European cities as an anti-pollution measure.   The bonus to residents and visitors that comes with this attempt to clean the air in city centres is a corresponding and quite startling reduction in noise and dust.  The minute particles of tyre rubber and brake dust which once filled the air combined with dust stirred from the streets, that once used to settle on the nearest boat (and attempt to line the nearest set of lungs) are conspicuous by their absence.

We don’t think it’s our imagination.  While perhaps last time our judgement was somewhat clouded by the bed-ridden state of one of us, as an outsider looking in, this might be one case where the theory is born out by the results of the measures taken.


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