24/04/2011 at 6:12 pm Leave a comment

By all accounts Antwerp was bombed very badly during World War II. Its large sea port was of major strategic value to the allies. However the German bombing raids had little effect on the port itself and the majority of the damage was inflicted on the City centre. Consequently the City centre now looks like any modern highstreet you could walk down in Britain. The area around the docks has maintained a more traditional 17th and 18th Century style.

The name Antwerp comes from a legendary tale about a giant called Antigoon who used to charge people money if they wanted to cross the River Scheldt. Those who refused to pay the toll would have one of their hands cut off and thrown in the river. The giant was eventually killed by a disgruntled young man called Brabo, who cut off Antigoons own hand and flung it in the river. The word wearpan means to throw in Dutch.

Brabo throws the giants hand in the River. LAD!

The Antwerpen-Centraal station itself is fairly impressive and adopts a similar architectural style to London Paddington. However, upon leaving the station we found ourselves in a fairly nondescript part of the City. The highstreet has all the usual shops and is devoid of any charm or character. Consequently we avoided this area for the rest of the day.

The Rock Concern de Rots hostel where was stayed was located in the upstairs of a heavy metal themed bar. We found ourselves in a Ronnie Dio themed room which basically involved painting the room a dark colour and putting up a handful of posters of the former rock star.

After dumping our things in the hostel we set out to explore. After taking a few “edgy” low angle photographs of the statue of Brabo we sat down to eat and sample some of the local Bolleke Koninck beer.
The old part of the City is very pleasant to walk around and there are plenty of bars and restaurants to choose from. There are however little or no green areas in which to sit and relax. The river side area also feels somewhat wasted. I was expecting to find lots of bars along the front but the area is devoid of any activity.

Later in the afternoon Chris and I found ourselves walking down Kammenstraat. This is the hip area of town where all the “cool kids” hang out. Everyone in Belgium is really well dressed and extremely good looking so at times it’s difficult to distinguish the “cool kids” from the rest.

By the evening we were back at the hostel relaxing with some drinks. One such drink was a 10% beer which tasted a lot like a pudding. Being 10% it was obviously a great idea for me to have three of these beers washed down with another strong blonde lager. Come the morning I would regret this decission.

I wasn’t expecting a great deal from Antwerp but it turned out to be a real jem. The place has a great atmosphere and everyone seems relaxed and able to get along with each other. Belgium generally seems to be an untapped market with a repuation for being slightly dull. Nothing could be further from the truth. The people are lovely, the food is great and the beer is wonderfully alcoholic.


Entry filed under: Belgium.

Bruges Rotterdam

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