Belgium > Antwerp
Last year in May, we did a leisure trip to Europe, and found overselves in the ancient Belgian city of Antwerp for a look-around.
It’s an uneventful ride on a fast Belgian train from Rotterdam to Antwerp, as the flatland of south Holland whizzes past.
Soon we are at the atrium admiring the cavernous Antwerp main train station, first opened 1905, and recently refurbished to service new fast trains. Work was completed in 2007.
The hall of the original 1905 main building, said to be the finest railway architecture in Belgium. Dark and sombre, not to my liking.
Across the above staircase, the ticketing room. It’s difficult to classify the type of architecture employed here, looks like a hodge-podge of various styles.
I stand in the middle of the grand hall and gaze up … the white rotunda of the station’s dome is indeed inspiring amidst the dark interior.
Outside the train station we try to get our bearing. Luckily it’s a lazy Thursday late afternoon, overcast and chilly, and no traffic to hassle us.
Across the street, a ubiquitous sight in Antwerp – diamond marts! Antwerp is the ‘World Diamond Centre’, where every year 85% of world’s rough stones arrive and leave as obscenely-priced sparkling diamonds. This unique business started more than 500 years ago by the Jews, and now there are 1,500 diamond companies in Antwerp alone. Nope, we are not shopping for diamonds.
A distance away, we glance back at the 1905 train station, which in 2009, was voted as the 4th most beautiful station in the world by Newsweek. I won’t argue with that.
There’s also a tram terminus next to the station, very convenient for commuters and travelers like us.
Beside the tram lines, a pedestrian mall looks a bit desolate. A bit further to the right, we find our lodging house.
Checked in, bags stowed away, we take a walk looking for a meal, and just around the corner, hey, hey, hey!
Spartan but pleasant, we are soon eagerly waiting for some serious chow.
Here it is, if anybody’s in Antwerp. Halal and very tasty as well, especially the sambal. Value for money.
My ever-sociable ma’am even manages to show the proprietress our website. She’s from Java, while the husband hails from Sumatra. Long story how they got here, but the connection is the Netherlands, a former colonial master of Indonesia, and Antwerp is just across the border from the Netherlands.
After a hearty meal, we plan to explore the old town of Antwerp, and across our Indonesian eatery, a local attraction. Not yet open, alas!
We head towards Antwerp (modern) town centre, with the old town just beyond it, and that’s our destination.
A short walk away, and wa-hey, a familiar name in Antwerp, of all places! We had no time to sample the offerings, unfortunately.
> TO BE CONTINUED