Antwerp: City of Diamonds and bad 70’s/80’s music

On the weekend, R and I went to Antwerp, Belgium. It’s the diamond capital of the world, with 85% of all diamonds being traded there. Yes, I made a joke about shopping, and no, we didn’t.

R pointed out that signs in Belgium are after the overpasses. It means that often you see the sign as you’re supposed to get off, if not afterwards.  Thankfully we were aware of where we needed to go and exited at the correct spot.

We drove through the crowded street of Antwerp looking for our hotel. It’s a good thing that R is a calm driver, because I was losing it in the passenger seat. I can’t imagine how bad it would have been if I’d been driving. We finally found a parking lot that was right across from our hotel. Though we drove by our hotel twice before settling on this particular parking lot, not knowing how close it was to the hotel!

Old Antwerp

We got checked into our room, then set off to see the Old City. R was determined to find some french fries, which were supposed to be very good in Belgium. After wandering around for what felt like a few hours, we finally found Fritkot Max on the Groenplaats.  There were 12 types of toppings!! I tried the “American” which ended up looking orange and gross, so I smothered it with regular ketchup. I also tried the curry ketchup, which was delicious!

Toppings galore, and salt, of course.
The giant tub is mayonnaise

I also tried one of R’s fries with Mayonnaise. I didn’t like it in 1997, and I still don’t like it. But I tried it again, because you never know. I used to hate kiwis, and now I love them!

R says the Belgium mayonnaise is the best

Next, we went to Our Lady’s Cathedral of Antwerp, but only saw the entrance. Neither of us was too keen to pay to go all the way inside. What we saw was beautiful. In the Grote Markt, they were setting up for the Christmas Market. There were lots of booths and a giant Christmas Tree in front of City Hall.

Antwerp City Hall


Our Lady’s Cathedral and a giant Christmas Tree!

The Christmas market led us to the harbour, where there was an awesome castle type structure called Het Steen.

It was sunny but very cold!

We walked along the Schelde river and found a neat boat museum. Again, we didn’t go in!

There were lots of cool boats inside. And a parking lot.

The cold wind from the river led us to the Irish Times Pub where I got a hot chocolate and R got a beer. R had been there to the last time he was in Antwerp. Not surprisingly, it was just like every other Irish pub in the world!

On our way home, we walked along the Mijr, a street with lots and lots of shops. We stopped at a chocolate store recommended by R’s mom and got a few bon bons to try. They were delicious.

We took a taxi to the Eilandje district where we had dinner at Eetcafe Bacchus. It was small and there were a few regulars there, but no one else. I was over the moon because I got to sit next to the heater! I’ve been cold pretty much since I got here. I ordered the ‘tuna dish’ which ended up being a can of tuna over a salad. It was good, but I was hoping it would be warmer. The Eilandje district used to be the harbour but it has been converted into a really neat district with restaurants and pubs.

We walked through the Schipperskwartier (red light district), albeit accidentally, to the historical centre where we had a drink at Den Bengel. They played wicked awesome music, including a disco version of ‘you’re just too good to be true,’ so I took the opportunity to sing to R. Comedy gold, I say!

(Awesome aside, check out the Las Seventies cover version!)

On our way home, we were passed by a really, really loud fire truck. Now I love the doppler effect probably more than the next girl, but at 125 decibels, everything is too loud!

The next day we checked out of the hotel with the trainee Puck. Who names their child Puck?! It’s even weird for the Dutch!

We walked over to where we thought the entrance to the parking lot was. Though we couldn’t see it anywhere.  So we walked all around the Astrid plane looking for it.  Finally, we realized that we had already walked by twice without seeing it!

After dropping the bag off in the car, we saw the train station, which was right beside the parking lot. It was big and majestic with four floors and escalators that had flat sections and clear sides so you could see the inner workings!

Antwerp Train Station
This made me laugh!
I love seeing how things work!
I nearly fell on the flat part…
There we are!
This is the best I could do at capturing how grand it is

Then we walked back along the Meir, and R got a jacket at Massimo Dutti (say it like an Italian would, it’s fun!) on our way to the Christmas Market. It was just like I remember it, lots of the same things being sold by different vendors.  We bought Belgian Waffles, which were okay, but could have been a little warmer.

This give you an idea of how big the Tree really is!
Christmas Market and the Cathedral

We found a guy selling ‘Canadian Socks.’ We walked over to talk to him, and he started selling the socks, but when we said I was Canadian, and R told him I was inspecting. He quickly said “They’re not made in Canada, it’s just a brand name.” and “I chose Canada because it means quality.” Along the river, there was a giant sound system blasting more 80’s music!

On the way back we stopped at the same chocolate shop and got some Chocolates for R’s mom. We got the car and drove home through more terrible traffic.  Well, R drove, and I slept once we got on the highway.