On Tuesday it was nice enough for us to take a day trip to Antwerp, Belgium. We took a 9 o’clock super saver train in the morning and arrived about 1.5 hours later at Antwerp Central Station.
The station is very beautiful and ornate at the front and a real asset to the city. We have found the trains to be easy to navigate, the people friendly and the cost reasonable. No security screening like at Spanish railway stations but on the Belgian side they did have paired off soldiers with asault rifles.
The historic center was very close to the station, only about 2 kilometers away, so we walked to the town center and visited two churches Stephen’s Kirk and Cathedral of our Lady.
Both churches had Ruben’s paintings on display as well as several other Flemish artists and sculptures. The Cathedral of our Lady had stairs down into the a small cript they had excavating recently. It contained 9 brick coffins, the sign explained that they found over 100 skeletons in the space
At St. Stephen’s church, they had a beautiful side yard with a group of statues referred to as the Calvary.
It was created on the location of an ancient Dominican cemetery around 1697. It includes 63 life-size statues arranged to tell a story.
The row up the middle (pictured) is the angels path. You come across the little garden through a dark door way at as I did, everyone that came in behind us gasped once seeing it. It was truly a special place.
We also took a stroll to the exterior of the Antwerpen castle, on the banks of the Scheldt waterway.
We enjoyed stopping at shops and restaurants along the way. We picked up several pounds, and I mean pounds, of Belgian chocolate and special loose leaf tea. Leaving the chocolate shop we had to split up the bag into two bags because it was so heavy to carry that it was not fair to have just one person carry all that chocolate.
It was clear that Antwerp was undergoing a renewal, we saw a huge office block being torn down and several areas that were key to the tourist section of the city were being renovated. For example the brick courtyard outside of the cathedral of our lady was being pulled up one bring at a time do they could be reapplied later.
The major square in front of the Grote Market had the full center of the square removed as well. We would have normally stopped in the Antwerp art museum during our visit but it also was under renovation and will not be reopened until 2019. Overall we had a very nice to Antwerp and the weather was cooperative, just a bit windy, but no rain and even some sun. Now if we can just figure out how to divvy up all this chocolate…..