He worked the morning after the Groezrock Festival. With afternoon flights, we didn’t have much time to enjoy Belgium. Regardless, he wanted to see a little something on the way to the airport and we had to transfer trains in Antwerp. He’d never been before and wanted to check it out. We got off the train, headed to the tourist information office for a map and headed on a whirlwind walking tour of Antwerp.
Antwerp’s famous zoo is immediately outside the grand train station. The diamond district and the Antwerp Diamond Museum are also there (Antwerp is the world’s main center for cutting and polishing diamonds). It was an easy walk through the main shopping district to the old town. It was a nice walk although I would have preferred a stroll and window shopping to hoofing it. Antwerp is trendy and has tons of shops from all over. You could spend a lot of time and money shopping there.
It was a gorgeous day and everyone was trying to take advantage of the wonderful weather. It is in Belgium after all. They looked like they were having a delightful time. Passing tons of cafes, fry places, praline shops, we soooooo wanted to stop.
Unfortunately, this was the closest we got. We had to keep moving, see the city and catch a train to get to the airport. There was no time. Curses!
Instead of having a wonderful Belgian beer, we went to church. The Cathedral of Our Lady was old and pretty with a lot of paintings that we didn’t have time to properly appreciate. They have a fair number of works by Peter Paul Rubens (whose house/studio in Antwerp is now a museum), as well as paintings by artists such as Otto van Veen, Jacob de Backer and Marten de Vos. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Next on the list, the Grote Markt. It’s a jewel of a main square. It has the Brabo fountain which has a statue of a guy throwing a hand. I’m not kidding. Check it out.
According to legend, a mean, nasty giant controlled the nearby river traffic. He extorted ridiculous tolls and cut a hand off hose who refused to pay. Silvius Brabo, a Roman soldier, managed to kill the giant by cutting off his hand and throwing it in the river. Wonderfully ornate guild houses in the Flemish Renaissance style surround the square.
Antwerp is the second largest port in Europe. I would have loved to sit and watch the river traffic. We could see workers readying boats for river cruises. I think you could spend a nice afternoon strolling the river walk or taking a cruise. Instead, we headed back to the train station.
Heading back to the train station, we passed The Steen. Unfortunately, this is all we got to see of t’Steen, what remains of Antwerp’s old castle. All in all, it was a wonderful little detour. Although there were a lot of things we didn’t get to see and do in Antwerp, we are lucky to have been able to see the things we did, especially on such a nice day.
Oh yeah, we saw a Spartan too. Rock on.