A Last Minute Trip To Antwerp

As my eyes forced themselves through the sheer horror of a 4am wake up call and opened, a massive smile crept across my face. The type of smile that comes from knowing you’ll be in a new country in just a few hours. It was only 12 hours before that I had booked the hotel and Eurotunnel after realising that familiarity was getting a bit too much for me. Turns out if I don’t leave the country for five months I get a bit aggy. Who. Knew.

I had decided upon Antwerp because it’s easy to get to and I wanted to see more after stopping there briefly a few years back. You see, the last time we stopped there was on a road trip to The Netherlands, and Antwerp as a location was a sheer fluke. It wasn’t planned as a destination – it was just the closest place to us when we were on route to The Netherlands and I realised I was hungry. So this time, I was determined to go back and discover more than just ‘what a waffle tastes like’.

Unfortunately after crossing the tunnel, bad news struck. Whilst checking my email to get the hotel address, booking.com had messaged me to say that the hotel we had booked with, had cancelled.

We were literally fifteen minutes away.

Using intermittent data on my phone I managed to find somewhere, but due to the last minute necessity we lost our city centre location. I was gutted. Not just because our first hotel choice was so incredibly “instagram” with its white walls, clawfoot bathtub and loft vibe, but because Antwerp is a popular city, so  all of the “good” hotels were fully booked.

After panicking that we wouldn’t find anywhere that wasn’t £300+ a night, we found a hotel that was both affordable, and situated a short walk from a tramline, so all was not lost. I mean, there wasn’t a bath in the new hotel and it looked like it hadn’t been decorated since the 1950s (and not in a cute way), but at least we were close to public transport. Driving was not an option because when in Belgium, you want Belgian beer. So the tram was a silver lining to the clouds that seemed to be hovering above the beginning of our trip.

Side Note: To this day I have no idea whether we paid the right amount for our tram rides because I couldn’t figure out how to change the language settings on the machine. In the end we just picked a random location which kind of matched the amount we’d expect to pay, and hoped for the best.

After throwing our bags down and heading into the city centre, the metaphorical clouds had morphed into real ones and the heavens opened. Determined not to get drenched within minutes of arriving in the city, we nipped into a nearby waffle shop; The Waffle Factory, because yano, waffles are delicious.

I decided to go savoury this time, which was a first, but it was a wise decision because my ham and cheese waffle was delicious. And Sam?

Well, I’m pretty sure his face can show you what he thought of his.

After realising that the rain wasn’t going to let up, we wandered through the city stopping in a shop to pick up his mum some chocolate. Before making our way to the river bank

And ending up in Het Steen.

Het Steen is a medieval fortress which was built after the Viking incursions in the early Middle Ages. Formerly known as Antwerpen Burcht, Het Steen was renamed in 1520 after being rebuilt by Charles V. Het Steen’s location made it possible to control access to the river Scheldt, but between the 13-18 hundreds, it was also used as a prison. But now, it stands as a beautiful building with a hella weird statue out front.

I’m not kidding. Look at it.

Art is so weird sometimes.

Anyways, now that I’ve done some Googling, I can tell you that it is a bas-relief of Semini; the Scandinavian god of youth and fertility. I didn’t want to play around with fertility God’s too much, because I prefer food babies to those of human origin. So we moved swiftly on, stopping in Billie’s Bier Kafétaria for a beer. I had a dark coconut IPA which was delicious, but incredibly filling. Sam had gin. Mainly because we swapped drinks because he ordered the coconut one and hated it.

After that we continued strolling around Antwerp in the rain all afternoon,

And whilst I could tell you all of the cliches about how charming the cobbled streets are, or how it’s a treasure trove of culture and impressive architecture, I’d rather show you…
In tomorrow’s post.
Stay tuned!

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Have you ever been to Antwerp?