Monday, March 13, 2006

Antwerpen ... city of sunshine and ice puddles

Tonight is about resting after a day spent exploring the historic centre of Antwerpen. Debbie and I walked through Groenplaats, Grote and Kleine Pieter Potstraat, the Town Hall, Grote Markt and its Brabo Fountain and the exquisite hidden alleyway that is Vlaeykensgang ... a 16th century alley of shoemakers.
We wandered through Handschoenmarkt ... originally a small cemetery, later a market place for 16th century fur and glove sellers. Onze Lieve Vrouwe kathedraal, with its 123 metre spire was the gothic masterpiece we located ourselves round as we journeyed.
In Hendrik Conscienceplein we visited the grand baroque church called Carolus Borromeuskerk, built in 1621 by Jesuits hoping to attract the faithful back to church in the aftermath of the Contra-Reformation ... stunning of course.
We passed by the Vleeshuis but had to move on due to lack of sunshine on this 3 degree day of sunshine and ice.
We moved onto the Waterfront walk ... titled 'City Meets River' and began with the Belgisch Loodswezen, a neo-gothic building from 1896, we rested on the steps and enjoying the sunshine.
We chose to walk along the edge of the River Scheldt and photographed barges and buoys, chatting as chicks do when they're walking alone. I think I fell in love with Antwerpen again, the winter has been hellishly grey but showing it to a stranger on a sunny blue-sky-kind-of-day made me see it again, and I loved what I saw.
We walked along the Zuiderterras to the cafe-restaurant of the same name. We admired the Entrepot du Congo building ... a 19th century building that was built as a warehouse for colonial goods, across the road from the spot where the famous 'Congo boats' used to berth.
Van Roosmalen Huis is a 'must see' for all newcomers to city. It was built partly as a homage to the great Austrian architect Adolf Loos, who used black and white stipes in his unrealised design for the Parisian home of Josephine Baker.
Frozen and starving, we wandered into Chicco di caffe on Wiegstraat where the woman fed us delicious food that Debbie was inspired to photograph.
Slowly, we meandered back to Tram 24 via the traffic-less shopping street ... Debbie shopped and I quietly accompanied her as all true tourist guides do, unendingly patient and uncomplaining ... however when Debbie read my descripton she was slightly outraged about my misrepresentation and so it goes that I should probably confess that the final shopping may have been partially about me locating tester bottles of my favourite, horribly expensive perfume ...

It was a lovely day and I am becoming a rather good (while remaining modest) Antwerpen guide.


Deepblusea said...

OK! I'm signing up for your next guided tour : )

Deepblusea said...

By the way... do you have to use the aid of a tour book to get all of the names and spellings right? I'm amazed at your knowledge of Antwerpen history : )

woman wandering said...

Lol, okay ... oddly enough, it may be that I have your booking and I'm preparing. A multi-national group I believe?

My knowledge of Antwerpen is stunning, as long as I have the two books I use somewhere close by ;)