Life keeps amazing me. How do so many precious moments land gracefully on my lap, without me doing anything? Perhaps I’ll just rest in the mystery of it all.
It was two days ago. I was sitting on the terrace of Café Rosario near St. Nicholas Church, watching the trams curve by the Post Hotel and head straight to me.
After breakfast, I started walking towards Albert Heijn, a grocery store. My friend Marieke was coming over in the evening and I wanted to have a bowl of chocolate yummies for her to nibble on.
And then a far less lovely thought: in my strolling today so far, I hadn’t seen a single seagull. If you’ve read my stuff recently, you know I have a gull fetish.
I changed course. Wings are sweeter than chocolate.
The most famous gathering place in Ghent is the Graslei, a wide cobbled stretch beside the Leie River. It’s perfect for hundreds of bums to plunk themselves down so that their nearby minds can cuddle with other ones.
This day I was the only sitter. After a few minutes, I spotted a single gull far, far away. But at least he or she was there.
My peripheral vision revealed a woman putting out a sign by the tiny entrance to the Post Hotel. It included the magical word “breakfast” even though I was no longer hungry. I walked towards the door which obligingly opened as I approached.
Then up a winding stone staircase, surrounded by the past. “And then, to my wondering eyes should appear” The Cobbler. Voilà:
The faces welcoming me were real. Two lovely servers. As I took in the spirit of the room, I saw a well-dressed grey-haired man hanging on the far wall. I asked one of the servers who that was. She said the architect of the building, which originally was the post office. The other woman said “No, the architect hangs on the other wall.”
I jumped up to explore the other face. A woman had been sitting at a table near mine and she got up too, confirming that the architect was on the side wall.
We got talking, about me having recently moved to Ghent from Canada, and her being the owner of the hotel with her husband!
Her name is Greet. Its pronunciation is a bridge too far for this recent North American. Oh well, I’ll rearrange my tongue and throat over the coming months.
Greet offered to show me some of the hotel’s rooms. “Yes! Thank you.” Here’s the light bathing one of them:
It was a sanctuary. A place to look in the mirror and see who’s there.
Then there was a suite containing an interior balcony that looked down on the bedroom. I thought of Romeo and Juliet.
Also a tower suite with windows stretching in a circle. The upstairs bedroom was being cleaned when we visited but the downstairs living room held my gaze.
This morning I came back to The Cobbler because I hadn’t taken a photo of this sweet spot for human beings. I’m lounging with my latté as I tap.
Greet just came by with a tiny box of chocolates for me. What I sense in this room from the three people who work here is a natural kindness. Rather than being kind to get some result, they’re simply living in the moments of being nice people.
Dear Cobbler, I shall return