27.08.2011 - 27.08.2011 17 °C
Well I had the most terrific day today (although the start was a little hectic). Started early with hearing that poor old Dorien had gotten ill and wasn’t able to come shopping with us. No issue, it just meant I was training to Antwerp not car-ing.. easy right!! Well pretty much! Only one hitch is the ticket vending machines in Belgium. I’m fairly used to using ticket machines, typically they take cash or card, you choose where you want to go and voila you have a ticket! Well, the ones in Belgium sort of work like that except they are money-less meaning you need to use your card, but they don’t accept visa, mastercard or amex………… Mmmm (well at least they don’t accept Aussie versions of these)……. So I had to line up and buy the old fashioned way.. which was fine except the line-up was out the door and snaking down the main entrance area of Gare Du Zuidi! So 20min later I had a return ticket to Antwerp and was on my way.
Arrived a good hour and a bit late (sorry Betty) with Betty meeting me on the platform making sure I wouldn’t get lost in the beautiful (but large) Antwerp (actually it is called Antwerpen!) Centraal Station.
We spent the morning perusing the Antwerpen shops and boutiques. We started the morning with a very tasty smoothie before hitting the stores. Betty tells me that Antwerpen is known for its fashion and I’d have to agree. The shops in Antwerpen are pretty nice. In fact, so nice that I ended up purchasing a couple of long sleeved tops (I will wear them have no fear!) in this really funky designer boutique, that was surprisingly well priced!!!!! Not to be outdone, Betty had already started the day by spending up a storm at Esprit (buying a really nice pair of boots and a very funky black vest) and continued on her merry way buying a further top or two!!!!
The thing for me was not only were the clothes on sale nice, the buildings they are housed in are spectacular. One particular mall houses its stores in this old palace-ball room like building, complete with gold leaf trim and marble!!!!!!!!
Our stop for lunch is one of Betty’s Antwerp stand-bys and was well worth the visit. We had pear, brie and cinnamon Panini’s. I know the flavour combination is bizarre but it was super worth it! We also had Cinnamon and Honey flavoured Latte’s—again a huge hit.. so much so that it may need to become my standard Latte order when I get back home!
After lunch Betty took me site seeing in Antwerpen. We had a look at the main market square and the H-Antwerpen. Yep Antwerp is named after a famous story and has a bronze statue to commemorate. A long, long time ago a giant lived in Antwerp. For some reason he was a bad giant (he lived under the butcher’s hall) and he used to charge a toll for crossing the river Scheldt. If you didn’t pay, the giant would cut off your hand and throw your hand into the river as payment. Eventually the giant was slain and his own hand was thrown in the rive Scheldt. Hence the name Hand-Werpen (which is Dutch and means to throw a hand) which over the years has become Antwerpen.
From here we continued down towards the river to see Antwerp’s castle (Scheldt Castle).. Wow! It is as good as the one in Brugge.. a complete medieval castle bang smack in the middle of the town!!!!!
We rounded out our day by consuming a couple of drinks in this underground cellar bar. No natural lighting (or electric) just plain old fashioned candle light. Here Betty introduced me to Krike Beer. It is a Belgian brew that is made with cherries… Wow-ee is all I can say. It is far and away the best tasting beer I’ve had (although that isn’t hard considering I’m not a beer expert…) but it is really nice.. Sort of sweet but tart at the same time.. If you ever see Krike beer on the menu, get one you won’t regret it!!
Johan joined us just before dinner where we went to another of Betty’s haunts, this time a restaurant that gave us an incredibly good dinner of red beef curry (in my case) and steak and salad and chips (fritsches) for Betty and Johan.
After an amazing day I left Betty and Johan at the station and caught the train back to Brussels!