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Antwerp, Belgium - California Globetrotter

The last leg of our trip was to go to Antwerp before heading back to Brussels to hop on our plane. Antwerp is just another big city but it has, in my opinion, a lot of French style buildings. We roll up to our hotel and immediately are taken back because it looks really fancy. At this point all we want to do is take the underground Metro system because our feet hurt so badly. As we are walking to the main train station to go catch the Metro, we look to our left and see a pair of beautiful French style buildings.

Antwerp, Belgium - California Globetrotter

And to the right, the most beaaaautiful train station we have ever seen. We decided to go in and look around. It blew our minds! So amazing! I later discovered that one of my favorite FLASH MOB videos takes place in the Antwerp Main Train Station where a bunch of people dance to the Sound of Music’s Do-Re-Mi.


Here is the Antwerp Station Sound of Music Video:

So then we decide, ahhh Antwerp doesn’t look that big, let’s just walk! We didn’t want to miss anything by taking the meto. So we meander around and find our way to the Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekathedraal (Cathedral of Our Lady) which was built between 1352 to 1521 and still was never finished. This church has been plundered so many times or destroyed by fire that the second tower was never completed.

Just around the corner from there we found the Grote Markt, which is the main square that is dominated by Stadhuis and more beautiful guilded 17th century houses. There happened to be some kind of market in the square and the Stadhuis was covered in different flags. I thought it was because of a festival or something, but actually throughout most of the year, it is covered in 87 flags.The central flags on the bottom row represent Antwerp, Flanders, Belgium, Europe and the United Nations. The other flags represent countries that are member of the European Union and nations that have a consulate in Antwerp.

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Then we decided to walk down to the Scheldt River where we would find the Het Steen, which is Antwerp’s castle. A castle has stood here since the 10th century, but the current one is from the 13th century. The legend behind this castle is that there was a giant who lived here who exacted a heavy toll on shipping. When the toll wasn’t met he would chop of the hands of the captains. Eventually he himself was slain by a brave Roman who then chopped off his hand and threw it into the river. This is possibly where Antwerp got it’s name from because “handwerpen” literally means “hand-throwing”.


IMG_2240From here we headed across the street to Vleeshuis which is a Butcher’s Hall that has been here since 1250. Naturally, this is a place where butchers could come and sell their merchandise. The current building is the result of an expansion in 1501 during the 16th Century because Antwerp had become Europe third largest trading city and it could no longer handle the amount of people.

Afterwards we ouch-ed and ooh-ed our way to St. Pauluskerk just a few alleys away from Vleeshuis and by then all we wanted to do was sit. I definitely sat for a while just enjoying the inside of the church.

Hans had to come back in and get me because he had discovered a little side door that took you out the “backyard” of the church which had 63 life sized pretty cool statues which is referred to as the “Calvary”. According to Wikipedia, the statues are arranged into four groups: the angel path, which ascends to the Holy Sepulchre, the garden of the prophets on the left, the garden of the evangelists on the right and the Calvary itself, which consists of an elevated artificial rock, divided into three terraces, on which statues are placed with Christ on the cross at the top.

By this point, we really couldn’t handle anymore walking,  so we walked back into Grote Markt and found a bar that had over 200 different Belgian beers. Now, I was under the impression Germany was the land of beer. I have been badly informed. Belgium is the LAND OF BEER.

Belgium has more beers and different mix of styles than anywhere else in the world with over 400 different beers.

So we sat down and had multiple good Belgian beers until our feet were numbed by the alcohol. My favorite by far was always dark Belgian beers. I really loved the Tongerlo dark. Then we moved on to our last Belgian waffle and had to eat in a park with a basketball court or else we would have had to pay extra to sit inside! I couldn’t believe it! Good thing it had stopped raining!

The next morning we wanted to get up bright and early and go to another town called Leuven, on our way back to Brussels to catch our flight. But we would have had to leave too early, and the thought of walking another step was so displeasing that we decided to skip it. And I hate skipping anything, especially when it comes to traveling, but it would have been too difficult to go there and see the town and still get to the airport on time.

Where do the cities rank?

Of the 3 cities we visited, Bruges came in at number one. It was definitely a romantic small town that was relaxing to meander around. We really enjoyed Antwerp and the French style buildings and it was much cleaner than Brussels. We both liked Brussels, but it came in at number 3 on our list. The Grand Place was by far the most amazing thing in Brussels, but otherwise nothing really amazed us as compared to Bruges and Antwerp. But anyone who is looking for a trip to Europe should definitely include Belgium into their trip! I have always heard that Belgium was always overlooked for other bigger and better cities like London or Paris or Berlin, but these three cities were each very beautiful and worth a visit!

Be sure to check out more from Belgium!




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