The best part of choosing your base in Brussels/Belgium is that it’s conveniently located to some of the most interesting cities and towns in Europe. After Cologne we chose to do a day trip to Antwerp with our friends. There are regular trains from Brussels to Antwerp. The journey is under an hour – making it perfect for day trips.
The first sight to admire in Antwerp, would have to be Gare Centrale d’Anvers or Central Station. Belgian chocolate waffles and bright red strawberries caught my eye, probably because we hadn’t had breakfast yet. We walked up the long flight of stairs and entered the main street. Antwerp offers a visitor a heady mix of old world charm and modernity. Diamond shops and cafes line the streets on either side. After picking a mini sub from EXKI, we set in search for ‘The Our Lady’s Cathedral of Antwerp’.
The Our Lady’s Cathedral is walking distance from the station. But don’t hurry your step or you’ll miss local sights along the way. As you approach the cathedral, the towering spire is the first distinguishable feature you’ll notice. The Our Lady’s Cathedral has a fair share of paintings (Rubens), stained glass windows, statues, lit candles, and the customary organ. Pick up a booklet – if you want to catch up on your reading – when you head back home.
From here, we walked further towards Antwerp’s iconic statue and sculptural representation of the legend – from which the city derives its name. According to folklore, a Roman soldier, Brabo, cut of the hand of the toll collecting giant, Antigoon and threw it in the river. ‘Handwerpen’ (Dutch) literally stands for ‘to throw’ the ‘hand’. The Town Hall and fountain are equally stunning.
It was nearing 2 p.m. and we thought of taking a break in one of the quaint cafes along the tourist lanes. It was sunny outside, but reasonably cool inside the café. After catching up over hot chocolate and coffee, we headed to our next stop.
We walked towards Antwerp’s Port and tried to admire the view. But on a warm sunny day, it would be difficult to enjoy the view of the sea and gulls flying. Steen Castle is a 10 minute walk away from the port. We didn’t have the time to explore it, so we walked towards the inner streets. Further ahead lies an old ship yard.
We continued our walk through cobbled streets with brick buildings. After a brief stop for strawberries, we started walking again. I’m not sure I remember where we reached. It seemed like a park. It was cool and we sat and watched young kids play basketball. Before we knew it, it was 4 p.m. and we had to head back.