So I did get to see Antwerp today in the light. It definitely looks a lot better out of the dark. Two evenings ago when we were wandering through the center of town is was quiet, somewhat grundgy, and unappealing with all the shutters drawn on the shops. It did improve some when we hit the lights of the heart of the center but even then Antwerp didn’t strike me as any place exceptional. Today, I saw it is better light. Forgive the pun.
First, I am to comment about Brussels at Bryan’s request. Brussels was an intriguing city. It is a predominantly French-speaking city which lies within the Flemish (Dutch) part of Belgium but isn’t part of it. Being the capital of Belgium, it is officially bilingual with French and Dutch but English and Arabic as widely spoken. According to reports I heard, up to 25 percent of the population is currently arabic. Brussels is also known as the European capital and much of the administration of the European Union takes place there and it is the headquarters of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
Unlike Rotterdam, whose center is predominantly modern architecture, Brussels core is a harmonious mixture of classical and modern architecture. The Grand Place is a mix of gothic and Italian Borouque-styles and is the most important square in Brussels. The Cathedral of St. Micheal and St. Gudula was founded in the 11th century and rebuilt in the 13-15th centuries. The organ concert there really was amazing. Brussels is also the home of numerous Art Nouveau buildings.
Back to Antwerp. Now Rotterdam is the largerst European sea port and Antwerp is the second largest and the one furthest inland. It is considered to be the economic capital of Belgium and its importance in trade was established around the 16th century. Now the architecture is a combination of gothic and baroque again.
We actually spent several hours earlier today in this internet cafe and we are back. The day was rainy but luckily just around sunset we had a break in the weather that allowed me to take some pictures of the beautiful Grote Markt with the Cathedral of our Lady and the guildhalls. The light was illuminating the gilt on the roofs – unfortunately this does not comes across in the pictures I am currently downloading and will link.
This evening we decided to partake in a classic Belgium meal: moule frites. Moule frites are mussels served with french fries. Strange combination to me but it was a good meal. Afterwards we headed out to a Salsa club for some dancing. Unfortunately, we hadn’t planned to dance tonight and we had left our shoes on the boat. I tried stockings only but eventually my feet were too tender from spinning so we called it an early night (well it is 1230am) and we are back here in the internet cafe. Tomorrow it is back to Rotterdam. We never did find our Belgium waffles – all the ice cream stands selling them were closed this evening. I guess I will have to return one day.