After my 24 hours in Brussels, I headed straight for Antwerp as they are only a 35-45 minute train ride apart. Having never been to Antwerp, I wasn’t really sure what to expect – but upon arriving at Antwerp train station – I experienced beauty. Shedloads of it! I had no idea a train station could be so stunningly beautiful!
Antwerp train station
It’s not half bad from the outside either! 😉
After a frantic bit of texting / calling with Sander (because apparently there are three pick-up points at Antwerp Train Station, and of course he was all the way at the back entrance with the car…) we finally met up and headed straight for Grote Markt by car.
Except that he’d put the restaurant we were going to – Backyard – in the sat nav and there are two Backyards in Antwerp… oops! So we ended up in some random suburb, paid something like €5 to park and then found out that we were completely in the wrong place. Doh!
A 15-minute drive or so later, we arrived in the vicinity of Grote Markt, dumped the car off at a car park next to Stadsschouwburg Antwerpen (which is really close to central station… grrr) and walked to Grote Markt (Market Square) on foot.
My oh my! She is an absolute beauty!
Brabofontein (Brabo Fountain)
This statue in front of Antwerp City Hall is of Silvius Brabo, a mythical Roman soldier who is said to have killed a giant called Druon Antigoon. The legend goes that Druon Antigoon charged a toll from people who wanted to pass the bridge over the river Scheldt. When people couldn’t pay (or didn’t want to), he cut off their hand and threw it in the river. Because of this, Brabo is said to have cut off the hand of the giant and thrown it in the river.
Cathedral of Our Lady
Seen here in the background – a Roman Catholic cathedral which has never been ‘completed’ – apparently the original plan was to have two towers of equal height but after a fire October in 1533, the completion of the second tower was delayed, then postponed, and the second tower was never constructed.
More about Cathedral of Our Lady. (In Dutch: Onze Lieve Vrouwekathedraal.)
Food – Backyard, Grote Markt
For lunch we went to Backyard because it had good reviews on Trip Advisor and is conveniently located on Grote Markt.
I ordered a starter portion of buikspek (pork belly) and the Dutchie went for the Steak Tartare main:
I must say, we were both a bit disappointed. The wine was great, but the food was lacking. Sander’s steak tartare was bland and mushy. My pork belly was about 80% fat. We couldn’t be bothered to complain so we just made the best of it. The tiny bit of meat I did have was very good and the pickled vegetables were excellent. Sander simply seasoned the tartare himself! (Very generously!!) It definitely looked better than it tasted…
After lunch, we did a bit more exploring in the Historisch Centrum (Historic Centre), which basically involved me taking lots of pictures of rows of houses.
We bought some beer, two fridge magnets and a beer glass in ‘Belgian Beers & Brews’. It was hideously overpriced of course – tourist prices – but we didn’t have that much time left if we wanted to miss the horrendous traffic on Ring Antwerp. (Hint: we still got stuck in traffic!)
Despite the ridiculous price tag, he was a very happy Dutchman when we got home and he got to drink beer from his special new glass… so it was all worth it! <3
Antwerp is seriously gorgeous and I’m sure we’ll be back soon!
COSTS – FOOD & DRINK
Backyard: Grote Markt 52, Antwerp 2000, Belgium | +32 3 232 26 44 | www.backyard.be
Buikspek (pork belly) starter €9, Steak Tartare €19. Wines by the glass.
COSTS – TRANSPORT
Train: Train ticket from Brussels – Antwerp €8.20 via NS International | www.nsinternational.nl
Parking: We parked at Parking Arenberg – Oudevaartplaats 2-4, 2000 Antwerpen, Belgium. (Directly opposite Stadsschouwburg Antwerpen). It cost €7.10 for just over 3 hours parking.