Everytime I thought about Antwerp, my imagination would go wild. I imagined it as a stylish and cosmopolitan place, but at the same time keeping the essence of tradition. I imagined it beautiful and majestic. And I wasn’t wrong. As soon as I got to Antwerp I knew I was in a special place: the train station is magnificient, absolutely beautiful. Actually, one of the most beautiful buildings I saw in Antwerp.
However, once I got from the station I faced the same problems I had faced in Ghent: construction works in several streets and gloomy, really dark weather. In my 4 days trip I was in general really lucky with the weather. But that day was a black Friday. As usual, I let myself being influenced by the weather and I was myself feeling a bit moody. The beauty of the train station cheered me up a bit, but when I got to the main street and all I could see was construction works, I fell again in mild depression.
I went to find my hostel, left my luggage there, and decided there was no space to feel down. I was in Antwerp, one of the cities that I’ve been wanting to visit for years. I needed to find my way. And I did. I found the Grote Markt, again, another beautiful plaza. I rested for a while in that classy and majestic place. Took my pictures and then decided to go for a big walk along the river.
However, it wasn’t definitely my lucky day. Again, due to construction works, the sidewalk was closed and I was obliged to walk in the same lane dedicated to cyclists. The risk of being ran over by a bike was really high, but the worse thing was I couldn’t find a way out. I kept walking and walking, starting to feel really tired and again depressed. Then I realised I haven’t eaten anything for hours, and I didn’t have any snacks with me.
When I finally found a way out, I just decided to give up. My plan was to walk all the way until the building designed by Hadid, but I just couldn’t. Not only because I was feeling weak and starved, but mostly because there wasn’t any safe way to actually go as a pedestrian. At least, I was constantly feeling the threat of being hit by a bike.
Another thing that sort of put me off was that I found people in Antwerp quite arrogant and hostile towards foreigners. There was this particular episode when I went to a coffee shop, and I was looking to the pastries. The waitress said something to me in Dutch. Obviously I didn’t get a single word. I said “english, please?” and she just repeated herself in Dutch. My expression was probably a question mark, because then she finally said “do you need anything?”, but with a rather annoyed look.
Not everybody was like this though. The receptionists in the hostel were the nicests I found in my trip. Also, people in the museums I visited were incredible helpful and warm. It was mainly in coffee shops and restaurants that I felt I wasn’t welcome.
You can feel that Antwerp breathes style. Everybody is so well put together. Antwerp being Belgian capital of Fashion is obviously a strong influential factor. And I do love Fashion, as I love Art. And that’s another thing I loved about Antwerp. The small little galleries spread all around.
Anyway, Antwerp smiled me back the next day, when the sun came out and I woke up early and could enjoy empty streets. I went to Momu museum and Rubens House, and visited the marvelous shopping centre when nobody was there. Then, I sadly left Antwerp. There was still one last stop before going back home.
Hope you enjoyed my photos from Antwerp. Have you been there? How was your experience?