Friday, January 13, 2006

Red Wine and Books in Antwerpen

The 3 days of blue funk ended today ... I woke and was ready for whatever the world had on offer, and in retrospect, the Liberal Democrats reception and nice wine on Tuesday night may have had a small role to play in yesterday's blue day.

Tsk tsk tsk Di, was it necessary to have 4 glasses of red?

Well yes actually, to wash down the prawns that they kept forcing on me.

My Belgian takes me to nice places sometimes.

Anyway, back to today.
My reward for waking perky and ready for anything was an interesting email from a fellow Kiwi expat ... but more on that another day ... however, there might be interviews and writing involved, so I'm happy.

I read through old journals, looking at quotes I'd collected back in 2000 however, I couldn't use any as a blog beginning as they mostly suggested that to stop traveling was death ... Our nature lies in movement; complete calm is death etc ...

Okay, so I'm not traveling in these days, and Antwerpen is definately not Istanbul; that beautiful crazy city where you could walk for 2 hours and pass through so many centuries ... from Roman and Ottoman right into this post modern age we find ourselves in.

And while women no longer fall past my 5th floor balcony, and salesmen don't offer to haggle over cups of their sweet cay ... things still happen to me here in this slightly quieter, more sedate Belgian world.

Today Gert laughed over an sms I sent to his office in a moment of quiet despair ... 'As long as I don't panic, I can find my way out of this very big bookshop'.

And Onze Lieve Vrouwe Kathedraal's spire almost seemed to shimmer when I was walking towards it late afternoon ... mental note to myself: it could be a fog haze, it might be the early evening light, or I have hypothermia ... who knew.

And then there's the tram. My new favourite winter reading place has become Tram 11. I have a seat I prefer, the single one with the metal box near my feet, I can curl up with my book and only need check occasionally on location out in the real world during the 20 minute ride to the city, although there was the night that I looked out into the darkness and recognised nothing ... even after looking for 5 minutes ... the wrong tram? But no, things just look different at night and Nederlands class had been particularly draining that day.

Feeding this habit of books on trams is my favourite secondhand bookshop .. de Slegte, responsible for many hair-raising, guilt-ridden purchases, of the oh my god, I really can't afford this but I must have it type.

Another note to self: must get legal soon so I can work and buy more books. Actually, speaking of books ... Alison irresponsibly mentioned a new bookshop, as in one I hadn't registered on my list of 'holy places around Antwerpen' and now I can wistfully wander in FNAC, sigh. Gert was surprised I hadn't hunted it out on my own and took me in a few days ago ... he led me into the Engels section quite proudly ... I almost died, they have a superb selection. I'm not sure he quite understands the risk ... it's probably comparable to taking an alcoholic into that really good wine shop down near Grote Markt, I guess.

Life is good here most of the time, and Antwerpen isn't Istanbul but it's its own place, and I am coming to love it.


V-Grrrl said...


Glad you stopped by. I've only had a few minutes to read your recent posts (have a bus to catch!) but can relate to much of what you say, especially that sense of limbo waiting for life to fully engage in a new country (a topic I wrote about last week in The Blank Calendar!).

More later. Thanks for commenting on my blog!

Dobermann said...

To explain a bit (your question at my blog), the answer to my mediocre, but sometimes almost good english is your little hobby there. Books. Not only the books (movies, tv and magazines), but books have definately been the ones that have given me the best phrases and words.

I do like to find new ways to express myself and new words to do it. Still learning though.

Alison said...

Great blog and as for the bookshop... be glad you don't live as close to Waterstones and the English bookshop. Damn them for closing ABC but at least it gives me yet another reason to visit Amsterdam (as if I need more reasons.) Mmmm... I think a visit to Antwerp in the near future to root through bookshops is in order.

woman wandering said...

Indeed it is time for a bookshop expedition Alison, but you haven't said sorry for the FNAC slipup yet.

Waterstones is my nightmare, I daren't go back and I don't have to, since I have no idea how to get back there ... I have the geographical ability of roadkill after 6 days of flattening ... sigh.