Ghent… setting the scene for Book one, Bad Medicine

As mentioned in a previous post, I took another trip into the semi-unknowns of the grey and brown cobbled jungle of Ghent…where cars rush through streets two sizes too small, while dodging bicycles who circle around trams like Remora fish caught in the wake of a giant blue whale.

At least it’s winter in the Flemish jungle, where baked goods can be plucked at every street corner from trays as heavy as clutches of green banana-bunches in some tropical paradise, and of course, bread, as fresh out the oven as a young intern, sitting in vending machines ready to sate whoever hasn’t been able to feed their ever-present, crispy wheat-fix.

No embellishment or hyperbole, Gent is really a crammed city – they actually do sell baked goods on virtually every street corner in the center of the city, and bakeries put fresh loaves in vending machines, just in case you get there too late to grab one from the store owner.

A little-known secret is that it’s a beautiful city to walk through. Beautiful for lots of reasons too; the obvious ones are all to do with the architecture… Ancient Cathedrals, seats of power in buildings older than my entire country (The Cape Colony in South Africa was only founded by Jan van Riebeek in 1652), and modern glass and steel – all merge together like an artistic savant child compressed three different colours of clay together and somehow, it works gorgeously.

Grey and brown stone blocks prop up history on top of smooth dark grey cobbles. Ornate cornices and window fittings decorate buildings in ways that we don’t really see any more. Maybe we haven’t lost the skill to make it this way, but it feels like we have lost the time… The architecture in Gent reminds me that we have time to do beautiful things.

Its safe to say that I really love the city of Ghent and have grown increasingly fond of it over the years. With that said, it makes sense that so many of the characters and settings out of the Rules of Magic universe were inspired by people and places in Ghent. I think it goes to show a unique characteristic of Urban fantasy as a genre; that we can take the every-day and view it through the lens of the extraordinary! More on the trip next week!


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