February 4, 2009

Europe In 30 Days - Shopping in Antwerpen Part 1

Antwerpen is a medieval city on the Scheldt River and only 30 miles north of Brussels.

So why is it decided that we will take the train today for such a short distance? Because Stijn knows that traffic is going to be horrific and being able to park will be next to impossible. Why?

It is January 3 and Belgium's after Christmas sales have officially started! That's right, there are no after Christmas sales until the first Saturday after New Years and they last all month long. So what better place to be than the diamond center of the world and the fashion capitol of Belgium.

Antwerpen was named the "Top City To Visit in 2009" by Lonely Planet, and the minute we step off the train I can see why. The Central Station where we arrived took my breath away. Now the first place we head to is "The Meir". This is a shopping street where only one type of traffic is allowed......foot traffic. Which was probably more difficult to maneuver through because of the thousands of people who were looking for the best deals. As we walked along the Meir we did a lot of window shopping because the stores were just packed with people. That is of course until we come upon an electronics store. You know how excited a man can get when he sees electronics on sale. So excited that it does not matter now how long the lines might be or how many people are in this store. It was a great chance to take however. Stijn found the mouse of his dreams for his computer.

As we nudge our way out of the store and merge back into traffic, we continue walking down the Meir and it suddenly opens up into this magnificent square called the Groen Plaats (Green Square). Okay, so a lot of pictures are taken here. I couldn't get over the "Hilton" hotel. And then my eyes are drawn upward to this unbelievable view of this tower with a clock. As soon as Stijn can pick my jaw up from off the ground and get me to stop taking pictures, he suggests that we have yet another Belgiun traditional snack. Frietjes. That would be French Fries. No we didn't stop in at McDonalds, whose french fries by the way are not my favorite anymore. So we walk up to a little place in the Plaatz called "Fritkot Max". It's amazing to me that in this square of all kinds of great restaurants and cafes' the longest line is here.....for Frietjes. So what do Belgians put on their Frietjes, well it's not ketchup. So for the first time in my life I am eating french fries with mayonnaise and to my surprise it was pretty darn good! And I love the way they are served in a piece of paper wrapped in a cone shape. Now, we don't have a burger with our fries, we have a curryworst which is a stick of deep fried ground meat that Stijn says is another one of his favorites and knowing that I want to try different foods, he orders up a few of these for me to try.
Our gourmet lunch is over and we continue to explore. I want to head in the direction of that magnificent tower and see what lies beneath. This brings us to the square Handschoenmarkt and I discover that the tower is part of the "Cathedral of Our Lady" Can you guess?........that's right, more pictures. As Stijn watches a street entertainer in front of the Cathedral I venture away to try to capture as much of this massive Cathedral as I can with my camera.
Check back here soon to see how we finished our day in Antwerpen.
Please visit Wheres Debbie if you would like to see pictures of what we saw and what we ate during our day in Antwerpen.

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