Memories of Antwerp
Although I’m not a blonde, I felt every bit like Goldilocks sampling Belgian cities like the porridge of the three bears.
Brugge was too hot. Too much activity and too many people in the city center. I enjoyed my trip off the beaten path but I’m not sure I’d go back again.
Brussels was too cold. As the capital of Belgium and of the European Union, Brussels felt a bit too, well, buttoned-up.
But Antwerp? Antwerp was just right.
Maybe it had something to do with the fact that I’d visited Antwerp during the weekend when the residents were out and about their leisure but I was drawn in by the city’s energy. Cosmopolitan, artsy, and smart enough not to take itself too seriously, I had a blast in Antwerp.
Don’t get me wrong—my time in Antwerp didn’t start out that great. It took me two hours just to figure out which bus to take to my hostel , the bus which subsequently broke down less than a minute after beginning its route. The hostel I stayed in? Nice people, but the computer was broken when I arrived, so they couldn’t check me in and then my room was frigid, the bed hard, and the door handle kept coming out in my hand each time I closed the door. But in spite of the missteps and misadventures, Antwerp dazzled me.
There was the beautiful Brabo fountain in the central market square.
Encounters with Antwerp’s most famous son, painter Peter Paul Rubens.
Onze Lieve Vrouwekathedraal, The Cathedral of Our Lady, rising above the city, warmed by the setting evening sun, visible for what seemed like miles.
Antwerpen Centraal, perhaps one of the most striking train stations I’ve ever seen.
Finding humor in the Lange Wapper statue at Steen Castle (I couldn’t help thinking the smaller are figures are looking up at the giant whispering to each other “Did you see the size of his junk?”)
Having adventures in mispronunciation. (Not GROAN-plats. GHROON-plats.)
Brisk walks along the Steenplein, with its symbols hearkening to the city’s maritime history.
And wishing, on the morning I left for Brugge, that I’d stayed in Antwerp much, much longer.