Monday, 20 May 2013

Travel: Antwerp

Yesterday, I went to Antwerp with my Mum, my uncle and my aunt. It was lovely. The weather was unexpectedly nice and it was great to spend some relaxed time with family in this stressful exam period.

We wanted to go to the diamond museum but unfortunately it was closed for renovation and it might be for some time. This is not actually mentionned on their website so if you wanted to travel all the way to Antwerp for that, be warned. Never the less, we weren't going to be grumpy because of that so we decided to just have a wonder round the city.

First, we went to the tourist information desk which is in the station. The station is definately worth a visit even if you don't want to catch a train or you don't need to go to the tourist info point. It must be one of the grandest stations in the world. It's enormous and very richly decorated. I will also point out that the people at the information desk are very kind and helpful and they speak fluent english.

After that, we decided we'd wonder towards the historical centre of the town which is by the river. We walked along the main shopping road of the city called the Meir. Although all the shops were closed as it was sunday, it was very nice. They have a huge variety of clothes shops. For example, there was a New Look, a Forever 21 and an Urban Outfitters. Antwerp is one of the best towns in Belgium for shopping as it's a port so it has quite a few international shops and it's also full of edesigners so there are lots of luxury boutiques.

On that road, there is a very nice brasserie. It's a luxury brasserie and considering, it was very reasonably priced. I had a goats cheese salad that was delicious. They also have a variety of burgers, including a veggie one and lots of other choices like steak and pastas. For a belgian restaurant, they had lots of meals for vegetarians so I was very satisfied. The staff was also very nice. I have a feeling that it's called Café Imperial.

We then kept going along the Meir and got to the town's cathedral. It's very grand and has a lot of Rubens paintings in it so you have to pay to visit it properly. You can still go in and go into the prayer bit which is free to see what's inside. It's very big and the architechture of the building is quite spectacular. Outside the cathedral they often host little street shows which are quite fun.

After that we went to the Grote Markt which is where all the old guilds are. So there are quite a few old trade buildings. It's also where the town hall is and that's huge. It's got all the EU flags on it so it's very colourful.

Towards the end of the day, we went for a walk along the riverside. It was lovely and very pretty. Antwerp is quite a green town with lots of trees. You can also go and visit the old fortress on the riverbank but we didn't.

There are a lot of other things to do in Antwerp too. We were only there for the day so we didn't go into any of the museums. But I'd highly recommend Aquatopia, the local aquarium. It's very good if you've got kids with you. The Rubens museum is supposedly very good. It's all about the interiors and the way they lived when Rubens was alive. If you're interested in litterature and books there's a book printing museum. All in all, there is a lot to do in Antwerp and it's a very nice city if you want to visit a belgian town.

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