Tuesday, September 20, 2005

I loved Antwerp!!

18th September

Today was Car Free day in Brussels. It is not a rule or a law but the denizens of the city are encouraged to not use their cars today. So all public transport for the day is completely free within the city. I thought it was a nice concept and since this is done only once a year, it isn’t very inconvenient either.

We went to Antwerp today, by train. The train we went on today was just like the Ratnachal Express, and not very clean either. It was just a 35 minute journey but we had to get off 2 stations before Antwerp and take another train on the other side of the platform. Now this train was going to Amsterdam and since we could not understand the French and Dutch announcements in the train and were anxious that we might end up going to Holland without our passports or papers, we got down one station before Antwerp, in one of its suburbs, called Antwerp Berchem.

The good thing was that Antwerp is a small city and we could walk from Berchem to Antwerp Central in 20 minutes. We jokingly call Antwerp Belgium’s 2nd largest village, the largest being Brussels. The walk from Berchem to Antwerp Central was very interesting. For a 5min stretch we couldn’t see a soul on the road – we were grateful it was broad daylight and we had company because it was quite eerie. Then people started appearing straight out of a storybook – it was a Hebrew dominated area and the people must have just been coming out from the synagogue because everyone was very traditionally dressed – the women wore long black/grey skirts, long coats with white blouse inside and a skullcap, the men wore long top hats, ankle length black coats over a white vest and black trousers, the kids wore regular clothes but they all wore a skullcap.

We picked up some stuff at a traditional Hebrew bakery to keep us going, passed through the lane of diamond stores and finally reached Antwerp Central. After lunch at an Italian joint, we met Mihir, Navya and ID (my classmates at IIMB) and went about exploring the city.

Antwerp was surprisingly crowded and colourful. We went to a Cathedral, Belgium’s largest and finest. We then decided to visit Rubenshuis, the house of the famous Baroque artist Rueben. But we stopped to watch a road show and then what with the asking for directions as well as looking at a map, by the time we reached the place, it was closed.

So we walked to the Zuiderterras, which is like a pier or a promenade, along the sea. It was a lovely place and I sat along with Mihir, ID and Navya there for over an hour, eating chocolate biscuits and chatting, while the other guys left to explore town. The Belgium exchange junta let early but I stayed back to wander around the city with my 3 classmates and then went back to Brussels. I loved Antwerp, for its promenade, for its old buildings, for its quaint Hebrew area and generally the feel and atmosphere of the city.

19th September

I must say today was quite uneventful. We cooked dal, cabbage curry and rice for lunch, accompanied by yoghurt and pickle. We then went to a 3 hour class on International Trade. The best part of the class was the snack break where all of us had coffee, juice, water and coke and ate the chocolates and biscuits and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Otherwise also, the class was good. We came back to the apartment, cooked some ready to eat meals for dinner, spent a couple of hours arguing whether or not to take a Eurail pass and then went to sleep.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

y is it called antwrep btw?? anything to do with ants?

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