So I left Ghent at lunchtime and having been a little overexcited about riding on a double decker train for the first time, I arrived at Antwerp station an hour later. The station is an amazing building; it’s nice that the extension has been done in a very modern style so it doesn’t detract from the original.
Antwerp is a much bigger city than Ghent and had the feeling of most other modern European cities until you get to the area around the cathedral, where you go back to cobbles and traditional architecture but on a grand scale.
While here I visited Rubenhuis, the home of the painter Rubens, who is the most highly acclaimed painter to have come out of Belgium. Most of the artwork in the house is painted by his contemporaries whom he appreciated the work of and also of the students he mentored.
The entrance is quite non-descript, nestled between cafe’s but it has a big oak door and a security guy there. You have to buy your ticket at the kiosk in the middle of the square before going in.
While in the main part of town, you hardly notice that Antwerp is a Port town. You can get some good views along the river and this was the route I took to the Maritime Museum that stands apart from the other buildings around it. There are a number of cafe’s and bars around here overlooking the museum.
On the walk back from there I was hoping to go via Cafe d’Anvers for a bit of nightlife, but took a wrong turn and found myself in the red-light district. This area is a bit like a 60s shopping centre and being dusk there were a few customers around so I was a little uncomfortable but I didn’t have any issues walking quickly through.
While in Antwerp I stayed in ASH- Antwerp Student Hostel, while has both mixed and single sex dorms and a well equipped kitchen as well as tv’s and pool table. Here I met the lovely Jess and her friends who had come over from the USA who without any effort persuaded me to join them for on a night out. While out we met a group from Amsterdam and spent the night in a bar we were told was called ‘Dirty laundry’. It was a great night with massive cocktails and lots of dancing but trying to google it now I can’t really remember where it was so can’t find it again *sad face* !
The following day I decided to go on a mission looking for a house I had found a photo of on Pinterest which had a boat as a balcony that my research said was just beyond Zurenborg. On the way I stopped at the market to grab some breakfast (croissant) and there were pets for sale which was unexpected! I also found a botanical garden which would be lovely in the summer.
Unfortunately I never found the boat balcony but I did find this area full of individual art nouveau homes. The houses here were incredible!
So squeezed all the sights into 24 hours! Was pretty rushed though so I would recommend allowing a couple of days instead.
Next up, afternoon in Brussels before getting the Eurostar home…