Inside Antwerp

You guys know I try to always be honest with you, and honestly, this post has been one of the most difficult for me to write in months, more problematic than anything heartfelt or emotional! It seems really silly because it shouldn’t be a hard post to write. I’m just telling you about Antwerp, what we did, where we went. I’ve written this three times in total, the third time I was pleased with, and then my laptop restarted and didn’t autorecover… So here it is, finally, ready for your reading pleasure.

I should start with why this has taken me so long, by means of an update! As I’m not the type of blogger than post everyday activities (I don’t have a dog to walk, or café’s to sit in – just go to the gym and work which none of you would be interested in), I guess it’s good to fill you in. I had a fall last week that has resulted in some super cute crutches and a massive foot! Nothing serious, I promise, but I have been a little more focused on healing and less on writing little anecdotes about my time on the continent! I’m back now though, on the mend, and attempting with my fullest to get creative.

I’m going to take you back in two weeks, to a freezing cold weekend in Belgium with my best friend. I can’t tell you how much I’ve gushed about Antwerp since returning. It is quite simply one of the most exquisite cities I’ve visited for some time. Architecturally beautiful, the friendliest people and a place with just so much to see. Our Airbnb host was exceptional; he gave us all sorts of tips and tricks – places to visit away from the prying eyes of the high streets, for which we were exceptionally grateful. We only visited for a fleeting 32 hours, which wasn’t enough (I’m already planning on going back in the spring after an exciting trip to Europe), and didn’t manage to get round every thing planned but here are a few of the the things we got up to and the places we saw.

Shopping

Going to the shops wasn’t really on our agenda. I don’t think either of us had high expectations but what a surprise! The high street was typical of many European promenades – a Zara, H&M, even a New Look. But slip away down off Schoenmarkt away from the Cathedral, and you’ll happen upon beautiful boutiques and goodies galore – I’d highly recommend Rainpharma for beautiful smelly gifts and treats. The Chocolate Line is a shop you’ll read about in every brochure – I couldn’t write about Antwerp without it. Located in the Palace on the Meir, the one time residence of Napoleon, the Princes of Orange and King Leopold II the shop is exquisite, totally flawless. Every chocolate you could imagine in all shapes and sizes. You have to visit just to ogle at the splendour of it all. Another must visit is the markets in Theaterplein, Exotische Markt and Vogelenmarkt. We visited at the insistence of our host and what a treat it was. Fruit, vegetables, flowers, food – they had it all. An oyster bar, fresh pasta, quiche and fresh made Lebanese wraps,. I urge you to go and while away the hours, taking in all the excitement, sounds and smells.

Two shops, in what I’d consider the design district, I’d recommend are The List and Your - both very design focused with a myriad of clothes, books, furniture, gifts and the like, they really struck a chord with my love of Scani design. I do think The List was only a pop-up over the winter though so who knows, it may be something else on future visits. Vintage shopping is also a pretty big deal in Antwerp – a city so focused on design, make sure you get to Pardaf at Gemeentestraat 8 for your vintage fix.

Activities

One thing I’d really recommend is purchasing an Antwerp City Card if you’re visiting the city;19 Euro for 24 hours up to 29 euro for 72 hours, the card give you access to basically every museum or site across the city (all of which is very walkable!) and discounts in shops and restaurants. We visited the beautiful cathedral and three museums with our 24 hours cards, which definitely saved us some money. We visited MoMu (ModeMuseum), FoMu (FotoMuseum) and M HKA(Museum Van Hendendaagse Kunst Antwerpen – Contemporary Art Museum). The first two were absolutely stunning. The Fashion Museum’s exhibitions change regularly and we were lucky enough to see the ‘Contemporary Fashion from the MoMU Collection’ exhibition; this selection of the collection includes notable names from the Belgian fashion scene such as Raf Simons, but also younger talents such as Peter Pilotto standing alongside silhouettes donated by major foreign fashion houses (including Balenciaga, Helmut Lang). It’s not every day you get to see Dior and Jil Sander pieces so close. The Photography museum was everything I could have asked for – my favourite part being the Mediterranean exhibition. Photographs taken from Ibiza to Gaza were places side by side in a look at the success and sadness from events across the Mediterranean over the last decade. I’ll be honest about the Contemporary art museum; we didn’t really understand the exhibition. It would seem we stumbled across the works of a VERY famous Belgian inventor/creator/artist/personality. People were so excited. We had no clue!!

Next time I visit I want to go to Rockoxhuis and Museum Aan De Stroom – which apparently has a stunning rooftop terrace you can access for free.

The main reason for our visit was to see my man George Ezra play. The venue was just out of town and was totally brilliant! Big, airy and stepped so you could always see; not something you often get in UK venues. If your favourite artist is performing in Europe though I couldn't recommend going to Antwerp to see them more, if not just for the venue!

Eating

Food was obviously high on the agenda. Firstly go to the market I mentioned above to try out some goodies. If you want a brilliant traditional bakery – go to Goossen. A perfectly perfect traditional bakery with more treats that you can shake a stick at; you can tell it’s good because the locals queue up outside. Our favourite place was WASBAR; this place is really special. Firstly, it’s not only a café/bar, it’s a launderette. We had a brilliant chat with the owner and like he said, doing your washing needn’t be boring. The café is light and full of joy. Definitely get the waffles - you get to add your own toppings and they’re a Belgian staple. We urged the lovely owners they need to come to London and they said they’re working on it – keep your eyes peeled.

Antwerp truly stole my heart, a city I could visit time and time again.

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2 comments:

  1. Beautiful photos! This has moved Antwerp up a few places on my (lengthy) to-visit list! :)

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    Replies
    1. So kind, thank you! I could go on and on about the place, enjoy it when you go (and let me know what you discover!) x

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