There is much to learn and love about Antwerp
It seems strange that we had been in Antwerp for three days, yet had never explored the town. But that’s what an entire day of golf and a trip to Bruges will do.
So, on our third morning, around 10, we joined a couple of friends and walked through the old part of town. Antwerp seems to be known mainly for the diamond trade but there are also beautiful buildings and a history of many accomplished painters such as van Dyck, Pieter & Jan Brueghel and Pieter Paul Rubens.
Some other fun facts we learned during our stay:
- The city is home to one of the world’s oldest zoos
- Gin is said to have evolved from the jenever or “Dutch Courage” because British soldiers drank it to calm their nerves before fighting in Antwerp against the Spanish during the 80 Years’ War
- Between 80 and 90% of rough diamonds and 50% of cut diamonds are traded here each year
- The world’s first printed newspaper was published in Antwerp about 400 years ago
- The name and symbol for the Euro was proposed by Belgium
- Belgian waffles were introduced at Expo58 in Brussels as a “Bel-Gem Waffle”
- The beer industry flourishes here with several hundred local brands. Interestingly, each beer has its own glass so it is easily identified
Our main destination today was the train station, reputed to be one of the most beautiful in the world. The streets were very quiet as we walked along and we saw some of the businesses opening for the day.
Moving away from the main street we strolled down one of the side roads which seemed completely deserted. It might have been the back doors of some of the diamond houses which apparently are not open on the weekend.
Eventually, crowds appeared out of nowhere. Once again it was time to think about lunch. With recommendations from friends on the Ship, we made our way to a place near the Town Hall, where we had a delicious “local” lunch. It was actually kind of a pub but definitely not touristy and we devoured the Flemish specials of beef stew and “Veg mash with sausage and bacon and onion gravy”. How’s that for healthy? Oh, there was spinach in the “mash”. Accompanied by Belgian fries and a tomato salad. No room for ice cream after that!
I couldn’t seem to get enough pictures of the town hall with the colorful flags and on the way back to the Ship we spied another “castle”. They seem to be everywhere here.
Finally returning to the Ship about 2:00 we decided on a small dinner, followed by the Pool Deck after some of our group quickly checked out the soccer finals. It was an early night for all.