22nd Birthday Guide to Ghent

For those of you that check TSH daily in hopes of good 22nd birthday tips whilst in Ghent, I am here to tell you the wait has ended. The following are step-by-step instructions to achieve the best birthday you could imagine.

By Becca Goesling

1) Le Jardin Bohémien

Tell Christine and Jean Pierre we say hello. And then proceed upstairs (past the large stuffed Stag) and collapse onto the most comfortable cloud of a bed in all of Europe. Once your jetlag has ceased, head downstairs for homemade croissants, towers of cheese and personalized cappuccinos.

2) Organize Your Things

It is likely you don’t feel the need to line up and photograph your packed belongings. But then again, maybe you do. Or maybe you have recently viewed www.iampacked.com or www.thingsneatlyorganized.com, which is an equally good reason to photograph everything you own.

3) Buy Shampoo

You may think you brought miniature bottles of the finest B&B shampoo and conditioner, but chances are you didn’t. Seeing as you will already be sitting in your fine hotel’s café, you may as well walk across the street to the nearest Apotheek.

4) Design Museum Gent

At this point, it is possible you are questioning everything on this list (aside from the hotel recommendation). Although all previous suggestions are quite genuine, this proposal is without a doubt the most serious of the bunch. Go to the Design Museum. Alessi carousels, Eames elephant stools and hundreds of other enticing objects line the walls of this four-story maze. In addition to their stellar permanent collection, there is currently a full floor of Shiro Kuramata’s beautiful work just waiting to inspire you. If nothing else visit the coat check!

5) Pain Perdu

Stop at Pain Perdu and order the mint tea. There is no tea in it but trust us, the mint will more than make up for that.

6) Plum Bike Shop

The bike shop is nice and the caps are cheap, but that isn’t what you are here to see. Roam the store until you reach a large sliding door with goggle-sized peepholes. Kindly ask the gentleman working at the desk to open the door and lead you to the basement. Please, don’t touch anything.

7) Café Den Turk

“The oldest bar in all of Ghent,” says Luke Hero. For those of you interested in a good pub to take your dad, eat thinly sliced meat, or play cards on your 22nd birthday, this is the place.

7) Il Cortile

When visiting Ghent, your first reaction is most likely to eat at a classic Belgian restaurant. I may suggest you do otherwise. Il Cortile is some of the finest Sicilian food in Europe. Even the Italian tourists dine here (it is true, we met one. His name is Jacopo).

8) Jiggers The Noble Drug Store

I hear these men are “legends,” but we prefer to call them “heroes.” The entrance is protected by a lion’s head doorbell, the menus are hand written and the drinks are quite honestly out of this world. I ordered something by the name of “Florodorian.” For those of you that do not intend to visit Ghent for your 22nd birthday, please imagine a few minutes of fervent stirring and extensive Dutch commentary followed by the most magnificent glass of bright pink liquid and powdered-sugar-covered blackberries. For those of you that do plan to spend this special day in Ghent, please order “El Presidente” and tell the heroes how it goes.