Antwerp, Belgium

Chocolate, Waffles, and more Bicycles


9/7/20233 min read

Well I expected to find plenty of chocolates and waffles in Belgium and I didn't need to look far.. I just followed my nose! The intoxicating scent of chocolate seemed to come from every direction, when I headed into the new part of the city - through Antwerps' 'Chinatown' - just a short walking distance from my 2 bdrm apartment.

I arrived at Home - Smartflats - which cost me $356 NZD for 2 nights - on a train/bus combo-ride from Prague. It would have been a bargain as a 2bdrm apartment shared by two people - and was a handy 350 mtr walk from the Roosevelplatz bus terminal I was dropped off at - and it also had what was easily THE most comfortable bed I have had since Melbourne way back in May. But for 2 nights just for myself, it was probably about the same price that I have paid for other stays in Europe and the Middle East so far. I was hoping there would be a washing machine, given it was a fully furnished 2 bdrm stay, but unfortunately that wasn't the case. Google maps helped me to a laundromat just around the corner though - and for $9 EUD I got one load washed and dried. Anyway - enough of the boring chores - and into the city!

The new part of the city was amazing. Modern, easy to walk around - with huge open pedestrian spaces and wide footpaths. I even managed to navigate my way on foot without being run over by one of the hundreds of cyclists! (most definitely the #1 mode of transport in the central city). The stores are a mix of the same high-end label stores I have seen in other parts of Europe, with plenty of department stores and mainstream franchised brands dotted in between. I wandered down a couple of streets that I think were almost entirely made up of jewelery stores, with the most fabulous diamond and gold jewelery on offer, and I guessed that Belgium must not have a shortage of literary fans, as I think I found the highest concentration of bookstores I have seen anywhere - and most had antique bicycles parked in front. I loved how so many of the store-fronts were presented almost as works of art!.. credit due to the staff doing the merchandising. Then there was the aforementioned chocolate. I'm not sure how much of it is consumed by the locals - or whether it is mostly tourists that partake - but either way - there's plenty of it! Is it actually possible to get sick of chocolate?.

It was good to spend the remainder of my first day here, and early the next morning just having a good old-fashioned window-shop of all the gorgeous winter fashion, as I've mostly been sightseeing around the older part of each city, and checking out the historical sites and buildings - but by mid-morning I was craving some 'Old Town' vibes - and headed to Google maps to point me in the right direction. By the end of my only full day here, I had managed to clock up over 25,000 daily steps, and had my fix of Old Town magic. I explored another mix of the majestic churches, castles, monuments, fountains and historical buildings that have now become so familiar as I explore these beautiful European cities - this time with a little Belgian twist. The area was jam-packed with people drinking and dining under shady trees in the streets, posing for photos, and listening to the musicians that were dotted around the town. There was plenty going on (it was a Sunday on my full day) - and when I walked through the area closest to the main part of the waterfront, I discovered a Sunday Farmers Market with food trucks and music - positioned underneath Het Steen - Wikipedia - the old medieval fortress of Antwerp. On the other side of Old Town, there was a street lined with vendors selling antiques and interesting second hands goods, that had me wishing (again) - for more suitcase space. Plenty of pics again below (the large building with all the flags was Antwerp City Hall - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia) - with the 'Cathedral of Our Lady' church on the opposite side of the same courtyard.

All up, it was another enjoyable stop on the European part of my trip.. now on to London, then Paris for the grand finale, before heading back to South East Asia, and a little closer to home.

Summers-end in Antwerp ...