When R bought me a trip to Antwerp for my birthday in December, I confess to having been a little bemused. I have a long list of places that I would like to visit that R is aware of - Antwerp being conspicuous by its absence. It's not that I actively didn't want to go there, just that I hadn't really thought about it. That was a big mistake, as it's actually a little gem.
He had booked it for the end of March thinking that it would be lovely and spring-like and we could lunch outside, or drink a coffee or a beer. Then, the weekend before, the mini Beast from the East happened and we began to wonder if our timing would be off. As it turned out, we were really lucky. Apart from a shower as we walked to the station early on Saturday, the 3 days were dry and sunny and we were able to eat outside ....... albeit wearing coats and hats!
Our only problem was that lots of the museums either didn't open until April, or that they weren't open on the days that we were there. Consequently, we had seen everything that we could in the first 2 days and so decided to split our journey home by spending our last day in Brussels.
Anyway, here are a few photos of our stay:
My first trip on the Eurostar - it was quick, smooth, and I'd like to go on it again - maybe to Bruges or Lille next time.
A late breakfast and a little knitting:
Antwerp station. This was absolutely gorgeous. Built in 1905, there is lots of gilded ornamentation, polished marble and glass. It gives a great first impression of the city.
The outside of the station and. incidentally, the view from our hotel:
R's Westmalle Double. He really liked this and has bought some since we came home:
Our guide book informed us that one of the things to do in Antwerp is to take a selfie sitting in the giant hand. It was very popular, however, and difficult to get a photo without other people in it!
Just like Amsterdam, there were lots of trams. It seemed smaller though, so we were happy to walk everywhere:
Blue skies and Cathedral towers:
The Grote Markt or main square is one of the highlights. It has an unusual dog leg shape and is home to a fountain depicting Brabo, a legendary Roman soldier who freed Antwerp from the giant Atigoon. He then threw his severed hand (hand-werpen) into the river.
The outside of the Museum Vleeshaus. This 'Meat House' was built in 1501 as the guildhouse of the butchers and a meat market. It is now a music museum but, sadly, was closed until April!
Sunset by the River Scheldt:
Ruben's House. Shortly after marrying, the artist bought this house where he then lived and worked until his death. After centuries of neglect, the house was rescued by the City in 1937 and has been refurbished to look how it might have done in Rubens' day.
I loved the tiles around the fireplaces:
..... and the short bed. People used to sleep in a semi-sitting position, supposedly to aid digestion and the circulation:
The man himself:
Busking in style!
The Cathedral pulpit. Elaborately carved in oak and depicting birds, trees, angels and saints:
....... and on to Brussels' Cathedral:
More wonderful architecture in the main square:
The Manneken Pis. I'd actually been to Brussels before as a child and vaguely recalled that I'd found this beloved tourist spot, that appears on all the souvenirs, slightly underwhelming. It's really small, almost like someone had a spare garden ornament, and the clothing and mortar board didn't really help. You've got to hand it to them though, all that wonderful architecture and this is what they decide to run with. Still, it shows a sense of humour and I suppose that it's easier to mould in chocolate and corkscrew form!
A band suddenly appeared in the main square. Everyone followed behind clapping along. I'm not sure if it was celebrating something, but it was all very jolly:
One of the museums. There was a Pompeii exhibition showing, but as we were pushed for time and have been to Pompeii, we decided to give it a miss. We did have lunch in a small restaurant overlooking it .......... sitting outside!
Parakeets in the park:
One last beer and free nibbles before catching the train home:
Toodle Pip for now. x