I am half Belgian. My late father was from Antwerp born and bred. I grew up in Antwerp for the first 10 years of my life, until my family emigrated to South Africa. I still have family and friends there. Although, Antwerp is a Flemish speaking town, my sister and I were brought up speaking French, because my mother is Finnish speaking, my father was Flemish speaking and they both decided to raise us speaking French.
Antwerp is a city in Flanders, Belgium. It is on the river Scheldt which flows into the North Sea. Antwerp has a port which is the 2nd biggest in Europe. The name Antwerp comes from a legend, in which a giant called Antigoon used to stand over the river and he would ask boats to pay a toll to carry on cruising the river. If the boatmen refused, he would sever one of their hands and throw it into the river. “Hand werpen” from Dutch means hand throwing, through the years it got shortened and changed to Antwerpen.
Every now and then we go visit Antwerp when we get a chance, usually en route to another destination. We catch up for lunch or dinner with friends and family and occasionally spend a night in the city.
I love the Grote Markt (Great Market square). It is in the heart of the old city. There are historical buildings which surround the square; the exquisite city hall and guildhalls. In the centre is the fountain of Brabo, the legend is he is the man who defeated and cut the giant’s hand and then tossed it in the river. There are shops, restaurants, bars and cafe’s that line the square below the guildhalls. They’re a great place to have coffee or local beers like De Koninck, Stella Artois or Duvel. My husband’s favourite is Affligem abbey beer.
The Church is the Catholic Cathedral of our Lady and was built in the 14th century. It houses some of the well known artist Rubens’ major religious artworks. Pic below is a statue of Rubens with the Cathedral in the background.
Antwerp has one of the most stunning train stations in Europe. It was built in the early 1900’s. Pic below was taken in Summer 2011, that’s typical Belgian weather with grey skies.
I absolutely love Belgian food. Fries are Belgian, not French and you can find frites everywhere in Belgium. Mussels, crevettes grises (grey small shrimp), beef steak, steak tartare (raw mince), cheese croquettes, waffles, pancakes, chocolate, pastries etc I could list 1000’s of food items. Belgian food to me is the best in the world. I think it is because it is the food I grew up on. My children have inherited my love of frites, cheese croquettes and chocolate. There is no doubt in my mind that Côte d’Or chocolate is the best chocolate in the world, and I’m a chocolate connoisseur. Yumminess!
After all the filling fantastic food at lunch, we try to settle it by walking a few steps, so we went to the Middelheim Sculpture Park. A 30 acre park with statues, artwork and sculptures. One of the biggest artworks is the bent boat nearly falling into the water.
Antwerp is a hip and happening city, with an interesting history and various architectural masterpieces. It has a special place in my heart. My first hometown.