Saturday, April 30, 2011

Quick Snapshots of Antwerp as I breezed through one Wednesday afternoon

Tintin: Probably the most world-famous Belgian on the planet
I've always been fascinated with Belgium. Perhaps it was growing up on the Tintin comic series or the alarming number of Jean-Claude van Damme action films I consumed in the 1990s. Maybe it was learning about King Leopold's atrocious colonial record in the Congo and its negative impact on Congo's history.

However, it is most likely my Belgium fascination stems from having successive French teachers who were all Belgians from the Dutch-speaking Flanders part of the country. So this past week, I had the chance to visit Belgium for the first time for a meeting in Antwerp. I took the opportunity to take a few snapshots of the city as we breezed through.

Our point of arrival: Antwerp Central Station.  About 4 levels of train platforms

 Belgium is world famous for its waffles. It was great to see a stand just as we got off the train
Arrival hall at Antwerp Central. Amazing architecture. Reminds me of Grand Central station  in New York City

The Gothic architecture of the Cathedral of Our Lady in Antwerp. A UNESCO World Heritage site

 I had no idea what this was but was fascinated by a reference to the fly that causes trypanosomiasis (African sleeping sickness). Turns out, Tsetse is a bookshop in Antwerp
Dinner time. I had wanted something typically Belgian so this delicious salmon fillet was accompanied by Belgian fries

The 9pm train to Amsterdam was mysteriously canceled. This meant we had to while away our time at an Irish Pub. Strange choice since Belgium is also well-known for its 100s  of beers. Interestingly, at Kelly's Pub, we got to see part of the controversial 27 April El Clásico match between FC Barca and Real Madrid. The  match ended in bans, fines and an on-field punch-up!

 Antwerp is definitely a beautiful city. I was really impressed to see so many Africans, loved the vibrant shopping opportunities and was really charmed by the architecture. I am definitely looking to make a return visit. This time, I will definitely take time to get to know this captivating city better.

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