Antwerp

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from top to bottom and left to right: Antwerp station, Antwerp station at night; de Meir shopping street; the station seen from the Meir, De Meir shopping street

 

Hello my lovely readers. Unfortunately i have not been able to write a lot recently since I have been involved in organising an international PhD conference. However, on the train rides to Antwerp and back i have been thinking about what else to write and walking past the wonderful shops in Antwerp, I thought, loving city trips as much as I do, I love to read about other people experience visiting a city. So here we go, my small review of Antwerp:

Antwerp is a beautiful Flemish city in Belgium with a rich history (which i don’t know nearly enough about) and beautiful old buildings! Above you can see some of the pictures i took during the limited free time i had at the conference. Since the airport is in Brussels and parking in Antwerp is a nightmare, most people arrive in Antwerp via the station. Its one of the most beautiful stations in the world with a stunning architecture. One thing which fascinated me, was that trains arrive on several levels opposed to all on one ground level and that you can see all the levels when you stand in the middle of the station. Maybe it is common in other places but that was new and interesting to me. Right in the station, you will also find one of the very few Starbucks in Belgium. It’s just been recently that some of the bigger international chains found their way to Belgium. So when I am there I love to drop in for a hot tea or a cappuccino on the go. If you are interested in the famous Antwerp train station you can find more info here:

http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowUserReviews-g188636-d241213-r175491230-Central_Station-Antwerp_Antwerp_Province.html

If you leave the station you are basically standing in front of Antwerpen Zoo. It is a beautiful old-fashioned Zoo which I loved to visit. However, being the animal lover I am, I would prefer a bit more spacey places for the animals.

Directly out of the station you find also the famous diamond district. However, since I do not own that kind of money, I have not been around there a lot yet 🙂

A bit more in my price range, you will find de Meir close to the station. A long beautiful shopping street (see picture) with historic buildings and all your favourite chains like Zara, the body shop, Yves Rocher, ici paris and more. Here you also find one of the two Lush stores in Belgium, so you can imagine where I went when I had half an hour to spare during the conferences lunch break. Prices are not very low in Belgium, so prices are okay but not a bargain, however, for us Belgian residents it is one of the few possibilities to shop in those stores without leaving the country. Beside that there is a palace, in the middle of the shopping street. Can you imagine? In previous times guests like Napoleon Bonaparte, Willem I of the Netherlands and the Belgian royals used to reside here. Now however, everybody can visit it, have lunch and enjoy some Belgian pralines.

http://www.paleisopdemeir.be/

Antwerp is a true fashion city with the royal academy and the fashion districts, housing all the big names and up and coming designers. I love to do some window shopping there (which is all i can afford in this district really).

So if you find yourself in Belgium with time to spare, Antwerp is truly worth a visit.

If you should pop by, do not forget to buy a box of hands. Yes, hands! The name of the city “Antwerpen” is derived from the two dutch words “hand” and “werpen” meaning “hand”(pretty obvious) and throwing. There is several stories how Antwerp got its name. My favourite involves a giant called Antigoon. He demanded a toll to be paid to him when a ship wanted to pass the river streaming through Antwerp. If the sailors weren’t able to pay or refused to, he cut their hands of and threw them into the river. This was until young roman named Silivius Brabo defeated the giant, cut of his hand and through it in the river. Because of that story, the Antwerp hands were invented. Little cookies in hand shapes. And to be honest i love to eat a few when i come because i just love such stories.

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Any of you have been to Antwerp. You have favourite places in Antwerp? Let me know in the comments!