Antwerp, Belgium Day 7 (last day)
Antwerp Travel Blog› entry 1 of 5 › view all entries
You read it right, today is our last day in Antwerp. Erin had to go to work so I stayed in today and packed as much as I could and cleaned up the place. I walked a little bit around town and bought some souvenirs and went to the park and layed out for awhile and read.
Erin and I decided to go out and have a nice dinner tonight with it being the end of Belgium and all so we got all dressed up and went out. We didnt bring the camera because we wanted to look good and have no baggage so sadly I dont have any pictures of us. We found a nice restraunt right next to the large catheral that is in the picture of old town on the first day.
Following dinner we were on a mission to find somewhere to watch the Spain/Germany match. Every place was playing it but since we were finishing up dinner when it started it was hard to find a place to see it well. So we went back to the pub we watched the other match at and it was PACKED. Erin and I were cheering for Spain and the pub was 50/50. Some people would start chanting a song and then the opposing team would start chanting theirs louder. Since there were a lot of close goals in the end it was really fun. I'm glad Erin got to see it because she didnt get to participate the other day. In the end when Spain won it got really wild, but since our flight was a 5 a.m. we figured we better call it a night.
All flights went well from Des Moines to Chicago and Chicago to Brussels. Erin and I got a little lost in the airport in Brussels but ended up finding our way to find a women with little to no English waiting to pick us up. It was awesome knowing that she asked for no I.D. nor did we which meant we could have been getting in a van with anyone. Right outside of Brussels airport is very industrial so not much to see and with our driver...not much to talk about. Once we arrived at our hotel, around 10:00 a.m, Erin had about an hour to change and freshen up while the taxi waited. During this time I had to run around Central Station looking for a pay-as-you-go phone for me and a SIM card for Erin.
With Erin being at work, I had to find something to do, so leaving the hotel I felt like going left seemed like the best plans for me today. I found Central Station which is just about a mile away from our hotel. It is very large and very beautiful. Right outside of the station is a very large square with old buildings. We are staying in the Diamond district and it is true to it's name, every store is a diamond store except they are not like the diamond stores back home. They are little stores with big windows to see whats inside and they all look the same, usually with a group of Hasidic Jewish men standing outside. Once I got a ways away from home I found myself in the "shopping district," this was some fun people watching.
When Erin came back we decided to go find dinner. It was a fun experience because we got to go through the same thing I did earlier. We finally found a sandwich shop and then the experienced Belgian that I was, gave her a tour around the town. We found a nice pub to have our first Belgian beers at which were excellent and was an excellent place to watch the soccer games tomorrow. Since the time difference was catching up to us, we called it an early night. First day down and were both good to go. I dont think I'll be able to blog everyday in Belgium since we dont have wifi and I'm sitting in the hotel lobby right now, but I wll try in the next couple of days! Also, not sure why it wont allow me to post my location, I think it is the computer I'm using.
The first day has gone and past and now we are experienced travelers... Erin had to go to work again so I was left on my own. What better to do than rent a bicycle. Only 15 euros (a little less than $20) what else could you ask for. Now that I somewhat knew my way around town I had a lot of land to cover. I headed out to a part of Antwerp called "old town," an area as you probably guessed is very old. I wasn't to sure where it was but I knew that it was west of our hotel, so I headed west.
On the way to old town I came up to a huge park that kind of reminded me of Central Park in NYC. It was really big and green and surrounded by buildings. There were parks everywhere and a really beautiful river that zig zagged through it.
I was starting to second guess my choice on directions until I came to a street that had one side with buildings that looked about 100 years old and then the other side looked like it was hundreds of years old. So I assumed I found Old Town. It was really awesome, it seemed like the farther I went the more mid-evel it got. The streets are all made of stone and very narrow, no sidewalks. When I was biking down an alley way I just happened to see a building out of the corner of my eye with a bunch of flags sticking out of it.
I stayed in the square for a couple of hours going up and down the streets connected to it, they were filled with little tourist shops and restraunts.
By this time it was about 4:00 and Brazil was playing Netherlands so I headed back to our area to return my bike and go to the Irish Pub that we went to the night before. Walking in all I could see was orange (Netherland's colors) and soon found out that a lot of the people in Antwerp live in the Netherlands and commute.
Sadly with Brazil loosing the bar was extatic and Erin got off work and made it to the bar literally the minute after the game was over, but the friends that I made invited us to come have some more beers.
While with our new friends I was reminiscing with them about what I had did that day and asked them about the statue. Word has it, is that a long time ago there used to be a giant who lived here in a castle on the river (the one I went to) who would charge a toll to cross the river and if you declined he would chop off your hand and throw it in the river. One day a peasant boy stood up to the giant and ended up cutting off the giant's hand and throwing it into the river freeing the town's people. The statue is of the boy throwing the hand into the river. Here in Antwerp the locals call it Antwerpen and the name comes from this story. The giant's name was Antigoon and the Dutch word for "throw" is "werpen."