A couple of weeks ago, at the end of May, I went to Antwerp for a few days. I have been to Belgium loads of times before, but I don’t recall ever visiting Antwerp. I had a week of from my internship and I didn’t feel like just sitting at home, so I booked myself a retour ticked using Flixbus, picked a hostel that looked nice enough and thus had something to look forward to.
I went to stay for two nights, so I had one full day to spend in Antwerp. Usually the beginning of June is pretty mallow weather, a bit warm but not too hot. However, when I arrived in Antwerp, it was nearing 30 degrees Celcius; way too hot for me to do anything. My first day thus consisted of sitting in a park and reading some books and honestly, I was completely and utterly content doing so.
The second day I was there, the full day I had to spend, I went to the Ruien. They are the sewers of Antwerp, though they stem from a couple of hundred years before and are not actually used the way they were anymore. However, I can assure you they still smell a bit. We walked around in the Ruien with a guide and an iPad with clips and stories of Antwerp. All in all, however, I wasn’t really impressed. I feel like the walking around should’ve been more eventful somehow, but it wasn’t. The info from the little clips was fine, but not something I couldn’t have found somewhere else. To be honest, I wouldn’t really recommend visiting the Ruien.
After the Ruien, though, I went to the Red Star Line Museum, which is absolutely something I would recommend. It reminded me of the Titanic Museum in Belfast, but without the story of the Titanic, obviously. It told the history and stories of emigrating people in the previous century. People from Eastern Europe who made a trek through all of Europe to board a boat to the United States in Antwerp. It was very interesting, especially since it wasn’t something I was very aware of before.
I was on a roll this day, because I also visited the Plantin-Moretius Museum when I had finished with the Red Star Line Museum. The Plantin-Moretius Museum is about the Plantin-Moretius family who did business in the printing industry and were famous because of it. The Museum is built in the house the family used to live in and with a paper guide, you can walk through it at your own pace.
When I was done visiting the things I had planned for the day, I went for some lovely Belgian mussels for dinner and finished off with an ice-cream from the Australian ice-cream shop. They sell absolutely delicious ice-cream and I was familiar with their shops from the vacations in my youth to Blankenberge, a small seaside town which we used to visit frequently.
Since the next day was my last day in Antwerp, I didn’t have anything planned. The weather was still really nice, so I went back to the park I sat in my first day and read some books again until it was time to go to my bus and head back to the Netherlands.
All in all I really enjoyed Antwerp. The weather definitely played part in this, since I couldn’t have asked for sunnier weather. All the terraces were out on the streets, people were friendly, every picture I took had this summery vibe. I was also happy with the time I spent in Antwerp. I probably could have stayed another night, but I didn’t really feel like doing much anyway. I also felt like I had visited the museums I had planned, so going to some more on a different day would have felt more like a must than something I would genuinely enjoy.