Disclaimer: I have lived for a while in the Netherlands and loved it. For that reason, there is a strong possibility that my visit to Antwerp has been tinted positively by that experience.
Antwerp is the second biggest city in Belgium and the capital of the Antwerp district in the region of Flanders. With of one of the biggest ports in Europe, it is the home of 1.2 M habitants. Antwerp has a vast history that dates to the 2nd century, with first references to Antwerp being reported on the 4th century.
The city historic center is composed mostly by 4 store narrow buildings, connected by very steep stairs to save space on the inside (something very common also in the Netherlands). Antwerp is famous for diamonds and fashion, although chocolates play a major part in the local delicacies.
The river Scheldt, crosses the city, opening to the Atlantic Ocean (Northern Sea) through the Westerschelde estuary, which is the gateway to all the ship traffic.
Flying directly to Antwerp wasn’t an option due to the low frequency of flights, but Brussels is only 32 minutes away by train. Train station is conveniently located directly beneath the Brussels airport. Remember hearing about bullet trains, those modern and fast trains? Well, these are not the ones. Don’t bother to get 1st class tickets either as the conditions are basically the same and it’ll cost you twice as much. Central station is in the diamond quarter and the station itself is a gem. Three levels of train lines wrapped by a beautiful building from 1905. Even if you don’t arrive by train, I highly recommend visiting it during the day. Light entering through the high windows puts up an impressive show.
The charming small hotel in a small alley on the city center proved to be the right choice. Walking the city early in the morning or late in the evening when returning from my client, was an amazing experience.
Gastronomy, as always, is an important aspect of my travelling events. Antwerp welcomed me with some of the most delicious stews I ever tasted, sided with the biggest list of beers you can possibly imagine. Ask the tenders about the best beer to go along with your dish and be astonished with the description of the beer characteristics. Always perfect choices.
A walk by the river side brought me to a first feeling of the industrial areas. At the distance, after the river bend, what seems to be a refinery was pumping fire and clouds of smoke up in the air. Certainly, an excellent destination for some industrial images, but it will have to wait for a future opportunity.
For moving around, I recommend biking, and certainly staying away from the roads. From what I have seen, traffic jams are a constant. If you have the time, walking is also an excellent option as you have more time to appreciate the views.
Cutting a long story short, I loved the city, reminding me all the wonderful time I lived in Amsterdam. Friendly people, delicious food, amazing buildings and unbelievable beers. Sounds good, right?
Note to self: next time I will fly through Schiphol (Amsterdam)
Billy, the pet that names one of the best pubs in town.
|Global||[A] – Could call this home|
|Safety (see GPI)||2 (out of 5)
(Lower is safer)
Architecture, Street, People, Landscape (river banks), possibly industrial (harbour and industrial areas)
|Weather||Some showers, some sunshine and cold ( January, Winter )|
5 hours, VISA not needed for EU citizens
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