Last year, on our way to Bruges, we had to change the train in Antwerp. Having in mind the beautiful train station – one of the most impressing ones I’ve been to, I remained with a nostalgic memory about the city and questions about how the city looks like.
The trip from Haarlem takes 2.30 hours and we had to change only once in Rotterdam Centraal in order to take the international train. Coming back was a little bit harder, since the train was overcrowded and we decided to switch the train in Dordrecht. As we arrived in Antwerp we turned left, instead of going directly in the center. The main street, parallel with the train tracks, has only diamond stores, and we were thinking about Snatch movie, which starts with a diamond robbery. In the moment we got in the Jewish Quarter we realized that it was Saturday, which is the rest day in Judaism. I am not a fan of jewellery so I was somehow happy that instead of seeing the stores opened, we had the opportunity to see the Orthodox Jews coming out from the synagogue (of course, only male). The wives, daughters, sisters were waiting outside to meet with their family, since they are not allowed to enter the religious building. Even the small boys were having payot – the curly sideburns typical for Orthodox Judaism tradition. Following the street to the city park we encountered another group of kids playing around, standing upside down and counting to see which one can last longer. We’ve walked right across the park and got to one squire, in front of the theater, where the market was opened – similar with the one we have in Haarlem, but we couldn’t stop observing that the prices were better than the ones in NL. Wandering around the streets close by, we got to the botanical garden, by accident: a small park with different species of plants. Going to the North we finally arrived in the city center, a part with narrow streets, with many shops and crowded. A lot of tourists were taking pictures (mostly selfies), at the town hall a weeding was in progress and in a corner 2 guys were performing on some wooden drums. Of course we couldn’t miss the oldest building which is, in fact, a castle and the beautiful streets right across it, near the meat museum. I had a good feeling being there, especially when we’ve entered the hidden street – Vlaeykensgang, tinny street with secret restaurants and interior gardens.
Since we still had some time left, we decided to go to the North, in the harbor area. When we got to the red light district we couldn’t believe our eyes: we thought that only in NL you can find this kind of neighborhoods, but here we were, in Belgium, on a street with the same large windows, with girls in front of them. 5 minutes walking from this area the harbor starts, which was mostly unkempt, but crowded with people searching for Pokemon.
We left the city without trying chocolate or Belgian fries – a reason to go back on another day.
If you would like to check the pictures click here.